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-Worship: The Way Into The Holiest PART 3

Worship: The Way Into The Holiest PART 3  


Picture FrameIn the tabernacle we have an object lesson showing us how we may enter into heaven itself to “worship the Father in spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4:23). At first glance the picture may seem to be complicated. Actually it is quite simple when we apply to it the teachings of the New Testament.   On the west side we see a curtain of white pillars set in brazen sockets. All we see, however, is the white linen. Likewise, on the south and the north. White is the color of righteousness – maybe as a result of testing (Dan. 11:25), but most certainly as a result of the work of the Lord (Dan. 12:1). Those who come out of the Great Tribulation have robes “washed ... and made ... white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:14 KJV). Later in the Revelation we are assured that “the fine linen is the righteousnesses of the saints” (Rev. 19:8).

Our unrighteousness keeps us from the presence of God. That is the teaching for one who would approach. That is what has to be dealt with first. “For without are dogs … sorcerers … whoremongers … murderers … idolaters and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie” (Rev. 22:15). Sin must be forgiven, for nothing that defiles can enter that holiest. Righteousness must be provided, that is the meaning of “justification.”

The Entrance
As we walk round the tabernacle we find that the only entrance is on the east side, where there is a wide, linen curtain, richly embroidered with blue, purple and scarlet (Ex. 27:9-15). The Lord Jesus said, “I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved” (Jn. 10:9). In Revelation 4:1 we also see that “a door was opened in heaven.” The way in for sinners is through Jesus Christ. He Himself said there is only one door: “I am the Way … no man cometh unto the Father but by Me” (Jn.14:6).

Once in Him we are no longer sinners but disciples, priests and worshipers. Before us is the brazen altar where sacrifices are killed, and the daily burnt offering and the other “sweet savor” offerings are burned. Here the work of Christ in “offering Himself without spot to God” is constantly brought to remembrance (Heb. 9:14). We are also reminded that we have nothing to offer to God in ourselves. By His grace, what we have to give is our appreciation of Him. This is constantly brought to mind as we approach the holiest place, a picture of heaven itself.

After the altar we are confronted with the laver. It is a “laver of brass … of the looking glasses of the women” (Ex. 38:8.) This is the “washing of water by the Word” (Eph. 5:27). Peter informs us that we are a “holy” and “royal priesthood” (1 Pet. 2:5,9). The subject of washing for our priestly service is an important one. In John 13 Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. Morally speaking, he does the same for us. Peter did not understand and wanted to be washed all over. The Lord told him that one who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet (Jn.13:10). Writing to the Corinthians, Paul confirms this: “But ye are washed, ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 6:11).

Who May Enter?
Christians sin; we are all affected by the evil around us. We hear filthy conversations and lewd jokes. We see crude and offensive sights. We may not want money, position and power, but the flesh longs for them nevertheless. In his first letter, John tells us that, “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn.1:8). We are like a person who has bathed and walks to a friend’s house along a dirty street. To welcome us, our friend washes our tired and dirty feet with pure water. We should keep this picture in mind when we approach the throne of the Living God in worship. It is no good saying to God, “I am not defiled,” because we are. We live in a world which is defiled and we have a nature that answers to all that is nasty in the culture around us. Of course we get defiled.

Cleansed from the filthiness of the flesh we next enter the Holy Place. The entrance, like that of the court was of blue, purple and scarlet needlework on fine linen. (Ex. 26:36). Once more we understand that entrance into the holy place is through the Lord Jesus Christ. The colors represent the heavenly, the regal and the human, all combined in Him.

Inside
Once inside we may undertake our priestly service in worship. Even here it is all of grace. The whole is covered in richly embroidered fine linen like the entrance and the veil. Here we see the glories and beauties of the Lord. On our left is the lampstand which tells us that He is not only the “light of the world” but also, like the heavenly city, “the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof” (Rev. 21:23; 22:5). On our right is the table of shewbread. God’s grace still provides, to feed and enrich our souls in priestly service. The Lord is not simply the “bread of life” whereby we might be saved, but also our wilderness manna, providing sustenance for service (Jn. 6:32-48; Lev. 24:5-9).

The golden altar of incense stands before the veil. Here incense was offered daily, its sweet smell constantly ascending to God signifying the presence of the Lord Jesus, the Father’s perfect delight. (Ex. 30:1-10. 37:25; Mt. 17:5). Our praise has this quality of giving pleasure to the Father. So, as we worship we may see ourselves as true priests ministering, not in an earthly tabernacle but in the heavenlies themselves, in the very presence of the Godhead (Heb. 13:15).

Into The Holiest
There remains one more barrier into the holiest. Here, on the Day of Atonement, only the High Priest entered with blood for his own sins and for those of the people. Thus, once a year the sanctuary was cleansed, and year by year it was evident that all this was symbolic. The way into the holiest was not yet open. Again Hebrews sums it all up for us: “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh; and having an High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:19-22).

Whereas the Aaronic priesthood could only enter once in the year, Jesus, our great High Priest, has entered once for all in the power of His resurrection. This gives His people unlimited access to the very presence of God at all times. It is not the blood of animals that has been presented in an earthly sanctuary, but the precious blood of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary which is eternally producing the desired result. By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His Name” (Heb. 13:15).

Another passage in Hebrews confirms this: “For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the holiest of all; which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold” (Heb. 9:2-4). Here there is no mention of the altar of incense. There is no need; we read instead of the golden censer beside the second veil, this signifying that the priest had entered and was there permanently. The censer burned the incense, as did the golden altar.

Our Place
Here then is our place. We have no religious things nor artifacts. We worship “in spirit and in truth.” We worship “in the heavenlies,” though we have our feet firmly planted on the earth. One day we shall be physically in the heavenly places, in the very presence of the throne of God. We shall worship then as we worship now, offering to God the “sacrifice of praise … the fruit of our lips.”

By Roger Penney

With permission to publish by: Sam Hadley, Grace & Truth, 210 Chestnut St., Danville, IL., USA. Website: www.gtpress.org

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