ACCESS FOR ALL
‘Just as I am, Thy love unknown / Has broken every barrier down; / Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone, / O Lamb of God, I come’1
Read Hebrews 9:1–10
Worship in the Earthly Tabernacle
9 Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. 2 A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand and the table with its consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, 4 which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. 5 Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now.
6 When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. 7 But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. 8 The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning. 9 This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. 10 They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Reflect‘The only person who dares wake up a king at 3:00 am for a glass of water is a child. We have that kind of access.’2
Continuing the theme of the old and new covenants, today’s passage considers the structure of the sanctuary (2–5) and the priestly service performed there (6,7).
The psalmist exclaimed, ‘Worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness’ (Psalm 96:9, NIV). The tabernacle was lovely, but limited. Despite great beauty, there were many barriers: only the priests might enter the holy place; only the high priest served in the inner sanctuary, and this, too, only once a year and only with blood sacrifices (6,7). Structurally and ritually, everything was carried out perfectly; spiritually, all this was woefully inadequate (9).
When Jesus drew His final gasping breath on the cross, ‘the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom’ (Matthew 27:51, NIV), effectively and permanently breaking down these barriers. Under this ‘new order’ (10), there is access to God for all, not just the priestly class or the Jewish people (Ephesians 2:18). This access is direct, no longer through representatives; it is 24/7, and blood sacrifices are no longer required.
1‘Just as I am,’ Charlotte Elliott, 1835.
2Timothy Keller, https://twitter.com/timkellernyc/status/569890726349307904
Do you ever find it difficult to bring your needs and confessions before God? As a symbol of the veil that was a barrier between God and man, take a tissue and tear it in half. Now come freely before God.
My God, I am overwhelmed with gratitude when I realize that I can come straight into Your presence, to Your mercy seat.