Friday, December 9, 2011

The Most Holy Place

During Bible study one girl made the comment that she is always blown away by the tearing of the temple curtain. Another admitted she was unfamiliar with that aspect of the story of Jesus's death and resurrection.

In ancient Jewish temples, there were different areas where people were permitted or prohibited from traveling based on their religion, gender, and profession.

The Most Holy Place was the most-restrictive area of the temple where only the rabbi was allowed and only once a year on The Day of Atonement. This was so strict that when the rabbi entered The Most Holy Place to make the annual sacrifice, he was required to bathe himself, wear specific linen garments prior to entering and then remove them and re-bathe upon his departure.

The Most Holy Place was considered to be the very presence of God. (Leviticus 16)

When Christ breathed His final breath on the cross, the thick curtain separating The Most Holy Place from the rest of the tabernacle was torn into two.

"Then Jesus shouted out again, and He released His spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people." Matthew 27:50-53 NLT

"Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed His last. And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. When the Roman officer who stood facing Him saw how He had died, he exclaimed, 'This man truly was the Son of God!'” Mark 15:37-39 NLT

"By this time it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o'clock. The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. Then Jesus shouted, 'Father, I entrust My spirit into Your hands!' And with those words, He breathed His last breath." Luke 23:44-46 NLT
There's a lot going on. It's easy to miss. I mean, the Messiah is dead, hello! Roman soldiers are declaring Him the Son of God, saints are being raised, there's a huge earthquake, and it's dark in the middle of the afternoon. Who cares about some curtain way over in the temple tearing?

I do.

With the removal of the curtain, we are able to enter into the presence of the Lord. We are invited, welcomed, and encouraged go to before God directly. No longer do we need a mediator, a rabbi, a go-between.

As His beloved sons and daughters, we are ushered directly into the presence of our Abba Father. Our harsh words, our love, our fears, our praise, our frustrations are spoken straight to Him.

I tend to take this for granted. And today I am especially grateful for it. I am once again blown away by the significance of a temple curtain, an Old Testament regulation, ripped to shreds. For you. For me.

Excuse me now as I, a Gentile woman, enter into The Most Holy Place.

<>< Katie

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