None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:11–12)
I was reminded this morning of an incredible truth, something to keep hold of in times of struggle, or even in the ordinary times when faith seems ‘easy’ and we just as easily drift from a constant awareness of God’s grace and the privilege of entering His presence. The tearing of the temple veil is powerful and poignant evidence that He has made the way for us once and for all. Not only that, He has made it possible for us to know Him intimately and to share in the righteousness only found in Christ.
We are freely invited beyond the temple veil and into God’s presence.
Back in the old days, only the high priest was permitted beyond the temple veil and into the Holy of Holies, the sacred place in which the Ark of the Covenant was stored and where the presence of God resided. It was so holy that rigorous cleansing and sacrificial rituals had to first be properly followed or he risked being struck dead, the inevitable judgement on unrighteousness in the presence of absolute holiness.
Christ’s death changed all that, and radically so. We need no longer come as penitents and supplicants, groveling in fear of judgement and death if we ‘get it wrong.’ Now, we come as His people and, more incredibly, as His children. While repentance and forgiveness are part of the daily life of every believer, we now have full access beyond the veil and into the holy place, the presence of God Himself, at any moment we choose to do so.
The tearing of the temple veil symbolises the truth of no separation.
It also reminds us that there is nothing we can do in and of ourselves to achieve the righteousness required to enter into the presence of God. Without the sacrificial blood and the righteousness of Jesus, entry there would still mean death. But in His grace, God invites us beyond the temple veil. He invites us to draw near, and in His infinite grace, He covers us with the full and perfect person of His son.
It is a privilege that simply cannot be fully described in human terms. When we consider who and what God is, His power and glory, and His absolute holiness, there is no logical reason why He should go to such incredible lengths to secure our entry beyond the temple veil. In very simple terms, God desires that we meet with Him to the extent that He was willing to die to make it happen.
Have we truly moved beyond the temple veil?
I felt strongly that this was the challenge for every believer today. Have we moved into the holy place, or are we still hovering on the worldly side of the temple veil? It has been rent from top to bottom. The way is open and clear. There is nothing hindering us entering in except our own choice. God’s invitation is to enter in freely and fully and to share in everything He is. Our flesh is the pesky thing that holds us back – it knows that the presence of God is the place of complete and inevitable transformation.
The simple truth is that it is impossible to spend time in the holy presence of God and not be changed. Beyond the temple veil, sin and self cannot endure. Unrighteousness cannot remain in the presence of righteousness. If we desire to draw near and to dwell with God and He with us, we must be willing to let go of self and our own unrighteousness. While God’s grace covers us, it never overlooks sin. At some point, we will be challenged on every single sign of self that remains in us. Again, by grace, it’s an ongoing process, a gradual journey of realization and release.
If God, in all His power, majesty, glory, and holiness, desired intimate relationship to the point where He was willing to give all to make it possible, why do we hold back? It takes courage to step beyond the temple veil, and it’s the greatest challenge of our Christian lives. There, in the holy place, is the power of God to change us and renew us beyond imagining. It’s the place of worship and absolute surrender. It’s the place where we truly become one with our God and live in the grace that empowers us to righteousness.
Gracious Father, our human minds cannot fully comprehend the magnitude of the incredible privilege of coming into Your holy presence. Grant us courage, Lord, to step fully beyond the temple veil. Help us to recognise and surrender the things of sin and self that hold us back. As we take the decision to come boldly to the throne of grace, enable us to do so in worship and praise, to humble ourselves to Your sovereign power and glory, and to yield to Your purpose to draw us into a place of perfect intimacy.