Kept Out of the Temple

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And you shall keep guard over the sanctuary and over the altar, that there may never again be wrath on the people of Israel. (Numbers 18:5,7)

The priests of Israel were given a solemn charge by the living God: do not let an outsider near the sanctuary. Don’t let them near the holy things, keep them out of the holy places.

An Israelite couldn’t simply waltz into the tabernacle and present a sacrifice on the altar. Unless they wanted to die. The holiness of God kept the sinful Israelites out of the holy places.

The Levites and priests kept guard over the sanctuary and the altar. There could be no playing around on the job. Life and death were on the line. If an unauthorized person managed to bust into the temple the results could be disastrous. Wrath.

So how is that you and I draw near to God with such ease? There are no guards stationed at the doors of my church. No one monitors me to ensure that I don’t offer unauthorized prayer. What’s the deal?

Hebrews 4:6 reads, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Those are astonishing words. Unlike the Israelites, we’re commanded to draw near to God, not hold back. In Jesus, we have a high priest who brings us into the presence of God. At all times. In all places. Nothing keeps us out of the presence of God.

Aren’t you grateful for Christ, our high priest?

+photo by nickinglis

Originally published June, 2009

  • http://notuntous.blogspot.com Katherine

    Yes!! What an merciful and faithful Savior we have!

  • http://twitter.com/byoungiii Barrett

    I was reading Malachi this morning to prepare for a study I’m leading next week. A verse stuck out at me that applies: Mal 1:10 “Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand.”

    Malachi is an indictment on the priests and the Lord laments that not one was preventing the offering of the sick and lame. It may also be messianic in that it is looking for one who would guard the sacrifice. Let me know what you think.

    • http://www.theblazingcenter.com Stephen Altrogge

      Barrett – I don’t know the surrounding context of the verse so it’s tough for me to know what to make of it. I’d probably need to do a little more study.

  • http://www.worshipfulreader.blogspot.com Ron Reffett

    Amen Stephen!
    I was just reading that passage this morning, and it came up again as I was reading The Great Exchange by Bridges and Bevington. That is such an awe inspiring truth, that we actually have access to the God of the universe! Thanks be to Jesus, I am considered holy and obedient, not because of anything that I have done but based totally on the finished work of Christ. What a savior, what amazing benefits that we have because of Him!
    Thanks for such an encouraging post today.
    Blessings
    Ron Reffett

    • http://www.theblazingcenter.com Stephen Altrogge

      Ron – So glad you were encouraged by this post. It really is amazing that we can pray to the living God!

  • http://www.asacrificeofpraise.wordpress.com emily

    a few months ago i was reading through Hebrews and was absolutely flabbergasted when i got to this passage. (by the way… its verse 16, not 6) :) well, as I was reading i came across verse 13… everything is exposed to Him and i must give an account… confidence? not when my sin is exposed. boldness? try shame. try regret. try embarrasment.

    I’m so glad God doesn’t end the passage there but instead goes on to verse 14… Jesus was tempted. He was without sin. He is my great High Priest. He understands my weakness. He’s not surprised by my sin.

    its because of that that I can have the boldness to come… aware that by myself I’m naked and all my sin is exposed. but through Jesus, I can come boldly. Instead of a Judge who will condemn my sin, I find mercy and help.

    what a comfort. what a great reminder. thanks.

    • http://www.theblazingcenter.com Stephen Altrogge

      Hey Emily – Thanks for the verse correction! It really is incredible that we have a high priest who brings us near to the living God. Our sin should keep us away from God, but Christ brings us near. Amazing.

  • http://www.thelearningneverstops.blogpsot.com Emily

    Just 2 days ago I had the opportunity to explain the ‘tearing of the curtain’ to my kids. We were having our after dinner Bible reading where each kid (9-13) and my husband and I read 1 chapter aloud. We’re now in Mark, and at the end of Luke we read about the tearing of the curtain/veil…it made me want to weep.

    I explained the symbolism…how only the priest was allowed beyong that veil. That Jesus was making a BOLD statement to everyone…that you can come to God without a mediator, because HE would be our mediator.

    the saddest thing was that I realized that all the Jews in/near the temple had to see it….had to witness it…had to repair it? How could they not see the symbolism of it? The prophetic beauty of it? I cried because I’m so grateful, yet it’s truly sad that many Jews were witnesses and still couldn’t take that final step in belief.

    • http://www.theblazingcenter.com Stephen Altrogge

      Emily – As you speak about the Jews and their unbelief, it reminds me that I would be in the same place apart from the saving grace of God. I’m grateful that God has opened my eyes to the glories of Christ.

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