I’m continuing the series on: How God Sees Us, which commenced here.
For a long time in the history of the church, people thought you could only approach God, through a mediator, such as a priest. However, the good news is there is only one way to approach God – and that is through Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
Symbolically God demonstrated that he opened the way for us to approach him by tearing the curtain in the temple when Jesus died. “With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” Mark 15:37-38
This describes what must be one of the most underrated events in all of Scripture. The curtain in the temple was made of heavy material and thought to be 30 feet high. No human hand could have torn it at all, let alone from top to bottom. The curtain separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the sanctuary. Only one of the priests could enter and then only once a year with a blood offering.
There is a tradition that says, when the high priest went into the Holy of Holies a rope was tied to his foot. If the high priest didn’t do his job properly, and he died in the presence of God, his body could be dragged out, without another priest having to go in, since he might die too. However, there is actually no biblical or historical evidence indicating there was ever a rope, it is merely a legend. It is interesting though that this legend developed, it underlies that the idea of the Holy of Holies was a special place where God’s presence dwelt.
God original intention in telling Moses to make a curtain was to create a picture of how sin separates us from God and how when Jesus died the curtain tears to illustrate that the way is now open for us to come into the very presence of God. I sometime wonder what the priests, who were on duty that day, did when the curtain suddenly tore completely in two? In my mind’s eye I see them frantically rushing around trying to sew the curtain back together again, and thinking they were going to die because they had seen inside the Holy of Holies. I wonder if they ever stopped to consider what God was saying to them?
The curtain being torn gives us confidence that Jesus’ death was accepted as punishment for our sins. We are forgiven people and can draw near to God. “Since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus… let us draw near to God” (Hebrews 10:19-22).
And again in Ephesians: “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” Ephesians 3:12
Sometimes we need to stop and remind ourselves of the staggering implications of Jesus’ death. God ripped the curtain in two to demonstrate we can draw near to him and no longer be afraid to enter his presence. God wants us to have confidence to come into his presence. Like a child running to their father.