“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:19-22 (NKJV)
Here we are told to go into heaven’s Most Holy Place. Then it says we go through the sacred curtain. If we are not familiar with the Old Testament Tabernacle and Temple this may not make a lot of sense to us. So let me explain what this meant to those who originally received this letter.
In the Old Testament there were basically two places of worship for the Israelites. One was the Tabernacle built during the time of Moses, and the other was the Temple built during the reign of King Solomon. Both of these places of worship were divided into three areas. The first area was a common area where the sacrifices were made. Any Israelite could enter this common area. Then there was another room called the Holy Place. Inside the Holy Place the altar of incense, and the table of showbread. Priests were the only ones allowed to enter the Holy Place, and only during the course of their service.
Then beyond the Holy Place was the Most Holy Place. There was a thick elaborate curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. The Most Holy Place was where the Ark of God and the mercy seat were. The ark represented the very presence of God. The curtain in essence showed that God and humans were separated because of sin. It wasn’t just every person who was allowed to go through the sacred curtain into the Most Holy Place and the very presence of God. Only the High Priest could go into the Most Holy Place. He could only go once a year and only after he had made a sacrifice for himself and the people of Israel.
To the original readers of this letter the thought of being able to go through the sacred curtain, into the Most Holy Place and right into the presence of God would have been almost incomprehensible. But that is indeed what the author of Hebrews is telling them and us.
Since Jesus as our high priest has made one perfect sacrifice for the sins of all people the sacred curtain was torn down and now anyone who has placed their faith in the sacrifice that Jesus made on their behalf can have access to God anytime. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross caused the curtain that separated humans from God to be torn away (see Matthew 27:50-51). Now we have access to God.
If, as this passage says, we are invited to experience God, how should we go into His presence? The author says we should go boldly into the Most Holy Place fully trusting in Jesus and that because of Jesus we are welcome in God’s presence.
We should see these verses as God’s invitation for us to come into His presence to experience Him and know Him in a real and a personal way. Think about the magnitude of what we are seeing here. The God that created all things and sustains all things by His mighty power invites you to come into His presence so that you can know Him in a real and personal way. The great, glorious and majestic God that is constantly worshipped by amazing angelic beings invites you to come into His presence so that you can know Him in a real and personal way. How awesome is that?
What we need to do is accept that this is God’s invitation for us and make connecting with God the priority in our lives. When we do, we’ll experience God in incredible ways and say with the Psalmist,
“O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.” Psalm 63:1-5 (NKJV)