When Jesus died on the cross the thick curtain of the temple that separated the Most Holy Place from the outside world was ripped in half from top to bottom. This short, unnoticed event illustrates one of the most important truths in all of Christianity. There was only passing mention of this in Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of the Christ”; this event is unknown by most Christians.
Thus, many do not understand the great benefits that were wrought by the shed blood of Christ regarding their ability to consistently walk in God’s manifest presence. Also, because Christians hardly study the Old Testament they cannot fully appreciate the cross of Christ because, as the Old Testament foreshadows the New Testament, the New Testament reveals the Old Testament. We need to read both testaments to fully appreciate what Christ accomplished for the church. The following teaching will attempt to explain these benefits.
Text: Mark 15:37-39
And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last. Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!”
I. The Structure of the Tabernacle of Moses that Housed the Presence of God
• There were three major sections related to the Tabernacle of Moses:
1. The Outer Court of the Gentiles
2. The Holy Place
3. The Most Holy Place
The Outer Court Experience
• Most people attending church services today are like the Gentiles who attended the feasts or holy days of Israel and observed what was happening among them, even dancing and singing like the Jews, without ever having been in covenant with God through circumcision.
• This is the difference between knowing about God and knowing God personally. Like a marriage, you do not really get to know a person until you live with them and experience the trials of life with them. You may know about your favorite celebrity or athlete but may have never met them, even though you see them on television all the time and know much about them.
The Holy Place Experience
• All those who know the Lord are considered priests of God and can enter into service for God. The priests ministered to the people by performing sacrifices for the covering of sin.
• We can do acts of service and ministry for people, but that does not mean we experience God personally or enjoy an intimate personal relationship with Him.
• God does not just love you. He also wants to like you and become your friend. To say that God loves you is good, but according to John 3:16 God loves the entire world. We need to go a step further than that and become God’s friend (Read James 2:23; Deuteronomy 34:10).
The Most Holy Place Experience (where God personally dwelt)
• In the Old Testament only the High Priest was able to enter into the Most Holy Place to make sacrifices for the people. Those followers of Christ today who experience this place in God have a deep friendship and relationship with Him in the inner place of their hearts.
• Hebrews 9:1-12: Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, 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. Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now. When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. 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.
The Holy Spirit was showing that by this, the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing. 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. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings–external regulations applying until the time of the new order. When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.
II. The Way to the Presence and Power of God was Closed to All but the High Priest during the Old Testament Period
• Hebrews 9:7-8: 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. 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 standing.
• In the Old Testament period the average person could not experience God’s manifest or personal presence in their life. They could not experience inner joy, peace, forgiveness, hear God’s voice, experience God’s power and illumination of the Scriptures, etc.
III. The Way to God is Now Available
• Hebrews 10:19-20: Jesus’s blood was the sacrificial offering that opened the way for all people to enter the Most Holy Place now in heaven (where God the Father presently dwells). Jesus’ blood was the sacrifice, and His broken body was the torn curtain that revealed the presence of the Father.
IV. Why are you Living Outside the Curtain?
• Hebrews 4:14-16: Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
• When the High Priest entered into the Most Holy Place he had to tie a rope around his waist with a bell in case he was struck dead by God due to being unclean. The High Priest would have the Torah read to him for 48 hours straight prior to the Day of Atonement, so he would be spiritually ready for this encounter with God.
• Now, we can enter God’s throne room located in the Most Holy Place without fear in great assurance of faith because of the blood of Christ. We can enter without condemnation and without any sense of guilt or shame because by faith in His blood God imputes to us the righteousness of Christ, as if someone credited to our account $1,000,000,000 that we did not work for or deserve, because we simply trusted in their word to be able to do it! We can even do things for God while we are outside the curtain!
Give your life to Christ and believe in His shed blood so you can now become a friend of God!
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