08 Mar

Through the Curtain

Taken from the intimation sheet: 8 March 2015

Hebrews 10:19-25 

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,  20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body,  21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,  22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another– and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

There’s a police station in Govan, not too far from where I was brought up. I remember when it was built being told that it would be a special, secure, station. Sure enough the first thing to go up was the wall around the periphery. The rest of the building was constructed in secrecy so that no one could see the layout. It’s now the most secure police station in Scotland, one of only a handful of stations in the UK allowed to hold top-level terrorist suspects.

You can imagine then the intrigue and excitement when my friend who’s a photocopier engineer got the call to head to the station and fix one of their copiers! What lay beyond those walls?

He told me what it was like to get through two levels of security to see the copier in question. Paperwork completed, passes collected, questions answered, it took him nearly the whole day before he was finally allowed deep enough into the station to diagnose the problem. He then had to go through the same process the next day with the spare part needed to fix the machine! He was told there were many more layers of security the deeper into the station you got.

His experience reminded me of what it must have been like for God’s people in the time of the Second Temple. There were various levels of holiness. Only the privileged few were allowed to go deep into the Temple, deep into the presence of God.

  • If you were not Jewish you could get into the courtyard area outside.
  • Jewish women would be allowed one step closer, into the Court of Women.
  • Jewish men could take one step nearer still, into the Court of Israel.
  • Priests would be allowed into the Court of Priests to serve.

One very special priest, the high priest, was allowed into the Holy Place. And then that one man, on one day of the year, having offered a sacrifice, washed ceremonially and dressed in white, was allowed into the Most Holy Place. This was where God dwelled in a special and wonderful way. God’s Glory would descend on the Ark of the Covenant on this day.

No one encountered God like the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. Everyone else could wonder, imagine, dream what it may have been like, but only the High Priest, once a year could experience the reality.

Hebrews 10 tells us that we can spiritually meet with God like that – with confidence.

We can enter into that most Holy Place through the blood of Jesus.

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body… let us draw near

This is both a wonderful blessing and a weighty responsibility. In the light of the deacons’ elections in the coming weeks, it means that all members should be in prayer, before the Throne, asking for the Lord to lead.

  • Please pray for the candidates who have put their names forward
  • Pray for the Lord’s leading and guidance as we prepare to vote
  • Pray for the new-look diaconate

Next week we’ll think a bit more about why we govern congregationally, but let’s determine over the coming week to be much in prayer as we prepare for the election.

Yours in His service
Ross