Our Spiritual Journey Inside the Tabernacle – Part 8: The Curtain
To this point in our series we have progressed through the tabernacle courtyard into the Holy Place. We stand in front of the Altar of Incense participating in the spiritual realm to bring about God’s purposes on earth through intercession.
In the Hebrew scriptures intercession was the role of the prophets and priests. This is a lofty position and a wonderful place to be. But YHWH wants us even closer. However, there’s an elephant in the room: His pure and absolute holiness versus our sinfulness that comes from living in a fallen world. Even our best living cannot measure up to His holiness.
Our unrighteousness and God’s righteousness cannot dwell together. So what does God do to reconcile His holiness and our sinfulness so that He can bring us closer to Himself? Two things:
1. In the tabernacle, God instructed Moses to put a thick, heavy curtain behind the Altar of Incense, between the Holy Place where the priests ministered every day, and the Most Holy Place where His holy presence dwelt (Exodus 26:31-33).
In Hebrew the word curtain or veil means to hide or shield. This curtain was 15’ high and 4” thick. You couldn’t miss it; it would not be waving in the wind; you couldn’t accidentally glimpse inside the Most Holy Place. There was no chance of the boundary to the Most Holy Place being mistaken. This curtain hid sinful man from God’s eyes and shielded man from God’s holiness. This curtain was for the protection of the priests.
2. The second thing He provided for protection was the smoke from the Altar of Incense. On Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) God instructed Aaron to use the smoke from the incense to conceal himself from God’s holiness in the Most Holy Place:
“The High Priest is to take a censer full of burning coals from the altar before the LORD and two handfuls of finely ground fragrant incense and take them behind the curtain. He is to put the incense on the fire before the LORD, and the smoke of the incense will conceal the atonement cover, so that he will not die.” Leviticus 16:12-13:
Today, because Yeshua is our high priest, He is our mediator, our intercessor whose righteousness removes our sinfulness from the eyes of YHWH. When He looks at us, He sees Yeshua’s righteousness.
The Bible tells us:
“Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Yeshua, because He always lives to intercede for them.” Hebrews 7:25
“God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Cor. 5:21
Yeshua’s intercession protects us just as the smoke from the altar shielded the priests, and His righteousness is now ours. This fact makes the curtain of separation obsolete. Hebrews 10:19-25 says:
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place (that’s behind the curtain) by the blood of Yeshua, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a high priest (which is Yeshua) over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart… “ (my commentary added in parentheses)
Once again we see YHWH, the creator of the universe, finding ways to remove the separation between Himself and us, so that we can come closer and closer to Him. He calls us to join him even in the Most Holy Place – a place where the kings and prophets of Israel could never go, a place where the high priest could go only once a year.
Today the curtain continues to remind us of God’s holiness as we enter into His presence. God has not changed. His holiness is no less now than it was in the tabernacle. What has changed is the great gift God gave us in providing His son as a pure, holy sacrifice, so that we would not die in His presence. Yeshua’s shed blood is the only reason we now enjoy open access to God’s presence.
The Holy Place is a great place to be. There we’ve got God’s spirit, His word, and we can participate through intercession. Some people stay there and don’t press through the curtain to the Most Holy place.
But what’s behind the curtain? What’s beyond intercession? What’s in store for us if we continue into the Most Holy Place? In the next blog we’ll go behind the curtain.