But the high priest alone enters the second room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit was making it clear that the way into the holy of holies had not yet been disclosed while the first tabernacle was still standing… Now the Messiah has appeared …. He entered the holy of holies once for all, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. Hebrew 9:7-8, 11-12
I grew up in church, hearing a hundred stories about the ancient Jewish tabernacle. I sat in the preschool Sunday School class and watched my teacher explain it with flannel graphs. I cuddled with my Daddy at bedtime and traced the colorful tabernacle pictures in my children’s Bible with my finger.
I got it. The center room, the holy of holies, was sacred because that was where the Spirit of God Himself dwelt. No one could go into that room except the high priest, and he only went once a year, trembling and hoping he’d offered all the right sacrifices to cover his sin and everyone else’s.
Check. Head knowledge.
But then I moved to Africa, into a mud hut in the middle of an animistic village. One of the first things the villagers told me was this: “You can go into any hut except the ones with the grass skirts around them. Don’t you dare enter those.” But no one would tell me why.
Years later, I found out. Once a year, a village elder would enter the sacred hut and offer a sacrifice for his sins and the sins of the village. The rest of the villagers would wait for him on the outside of the grass fringe.
Jumpin’ Jupiter. The Old Testament, being played out right there in the middle of Africa. It wasn’t just a story anymore. This was real. Right in front of me, just as surely as in Old Testament Israel, the people were separated from God by a physical barrier as well as a spiritual one.
But they didn’t have to be. And neither do we. Because this verse makes it clear that Jesus’ death did away with those barriers forever. Our Messiah entered the Holy of Holies as the perfect sacrifice, giving us direct access to God.
What difference does that make to our daily lives as Christians? What does it look like to truly live a barrier-free life?
A barrier free life? Wow. I think that is a timely reminder. One of my favorite quotes comes from C.H. Spurgeon; “Starving souls live at a distance from the mercy-seat and become like the parched fields in times of drought.”
Drought has hit where I live—both geographically and personally.
We haven’t had near the precipitation normal to our region in three years. Pastures are dead. Many of the area fields planted in hope have for two years running been cut down for nothing more than cheap fodder. We live in a parched land.
What a picture sitting right outside my door. Oh soul, are you thirsty? Draw near. The barrier is gone, removed by the blood of the Lamb of God, who chose to die in your place. He has torn the curtain and issued an invitation: Draw near. Find Life. Draw near. Live.