On Wednesday we watched the high priest make atonement for his sins and then enter the tabernacle – alone – to perform specific acts of worship designed to atone for the people’s sins. We know that today Christ is our high priest…
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. Heb 9:11-12 (ESV)
For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Heb 9:24-26 (ESV)
Jesus’ voluntary death brought him into “the greater and more perfect tent”. He was the blood atonement. He did it once for all. And now He is in heaven, appearing on our behalf before the holy God.
Sometimes you’ll hear a preacher speak of propitiation. That word means sins is covered and paid in full. Jesus died as a once for all, full payment, propitiation of our sins. But to do that, He had to live on the earth and suffer a brutal death.
Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. Heb 2:14-17 (ESV)
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:1-2 (ESV)
Matthew records some of the events during Jesus’ death.
And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. Matt 27:51 (ESV)
The Jewish historian Josephus tells us that the veil was so thick it would have taken two team of oxen, pulling in opposite directions, to tear it. This was no flimsy curtain! Does it make sense that the veil was torn in two, top to bottom, as Jesus died for our sins? The writer of Hebrews helps us understand.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. Heb 10:19-23 (ESV)
The Jews of the day understood the significance of the curtain, and the sprinkling, and the washing of water. We’re coming to a better understanding as well.
With the tearing of the veil, God shows us that Jesus’ once for all death removes the separating wall between us. No other man or woman’s death was so dramatically underscored by God. It reminds us that only through Jesus’ death are we able to come to God. There is no other path, no other religion, no other belief system, no other Way than Jesus Christ to go through that veil and commune with God. And only through His death can we do that without dying ourselves.
Spend some time this weekend contemplating the immense privilege God gives you by allowing you to come directly to Jesus for atonement of your sins. Will that change the way you worship? How?
We have one more week in this study, and I’d really like to hear how learning more about the tabernacle has impacted your understanding of the word “worship”. As always, if you have questions, prayer needs, or comments, please send me an email or leave a comment here. See you next week!