There are people in important roles whose office I could call today and be told either it will be days or weeks before I can see them, or that I can’t see them at all.
Not so with the God.
The Old Testament Law was given by God not to make us perfect by “checking off the boxes” of rules kept, ( Paul asserted, “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”, and “Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”), but rather to show us how utterly imperfect we are in our sin. The Law served as a high-powered mirror to reveal to us how desperately we were in need of a Savior.
A part of that Law was the role of the Levitical Priests (Old Testament priests were members of the tribe of Levi). The priests were instructed by the Law to intercede for mankind. In other words, outside of God choosing to speak to prophets and judges such as Moses, Daniel, and Gideon, others had little to no intimate access to God. (It should be noted that God, in his sovereignty, did sometimes speak to non-priests, such as earthly kings and individuals. But not often.)
Think about that for a minute. In Old Testament times you and I couldn’t readily talk to God. We had to wait our turn and go through a priest.
Additionally, only once a year, the high priest (the highest rank of all Levitical priests) – and only the high priest had permission to enter the Holy of Holies (a designated inner room in the Old Testament tabernacle) to offer blood from an animal to atone for the sins of mankind. (see also Hebrews 9:6-8) “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin,” the author of Hebrews wrote. (the author of Hebrews is referring to Leviticus 17:11)
This entering of the Holy of Holies was no casual or hurried experience. If the high priest did not keep every single required step in this process God would strike him dead. This was God’s warning, and represented God’s wrath over sin. While the bells, that were attached to his robe were heard, others would know that he was still alive and that he had been accepted by God.
Bottom line: the Law, representing our sin, served as an object lesson, demonstrating to mankind that our sin kept us outside the intimate presence of God.
But God so loved the world…
The author of Hebrews wrote,
“the Law made nothing perfect, but on the other hand, a better hope is (now) introduced through which we draw near to God.” (7:19)
This is taken for granted nowadays because we know nothing different. But this was revolutionary news to first century people.
The need for human priests was fulfilled in the perfect life, death and resurrection of our true High Priest, Jesus Christ.
Ever since the Cross, all who have professed their faith in Christ are “a royal priesthood,” nullifying our need to approach God through a human priest. No longer does mankind need a human being to intercede to God on their behalf. This is what Paul means when he counseled Timothy, “
For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,
At Jesus’ death, the veil in the Old Testament temple that separated the designated human high priest from the Holy of Holies (representing mankind’s sin from God’s holiness) was torn in two from top to bottom signifying the immediate arrival of the new covenant of God with man through Christ.
To the Ephesians believers, Paul encouraged them with this life-changing good news:
“But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
Now, because of the Cross and the Empty Tomb, you and I can approach the throne of God boldly. About anything. Anytime. Anywhere. No wait time. No line to see him.
Stop for a moment and visit with God today. He loved us so much he gave his only Son up to Roman execution so that we might have intimacy with him – and he with us.
Love you all, Nick