Have you ever found yourself in a place that you did not belong—be it because of the way you were dressed, or just simply because of the people you were around? And you find yourself saying…”I don’t think that I belong here.”
Now try multiplying that by a thousand, and you might start to understand how an Israelite felt on the Day of Atonement. Of all the peoples of the earth, God chose the people of Israel to dwell with. His presence dwelt above the Ark of the Covenant in the most Holy place which was hidden behind the Veil in the Tabernacle. Because of the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man, the Jews understood that they could never enter into the presence of God. But God, in His mercy, had made a way for a sinful man, the High Priest, to come into His presence once a year to make atonement for himself and the people. After much ritualistic cleansing for purification, the high priest would enter into the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement before the presence of God. He would wear special clothing that would have bells on the bottom, so that the people would know that he had been accepted by God and was still alive. If at any point, the bells stopped, the people knew that God had killed him. What a fearful thing it would be to enter into the presence of a holy God.
But in the book of Hebrews, we are told that we have a High Priest, Jesus Christ the Righteous…who has entered into the presence of the Father and has made atonement for us that will last throughout all of eternity. The effect of this is that we, though sinners, can now come boldly into the very presence of the Almighty—into the Holiest of Holies. The word “boldly” means without inhibition, without fear, without hesitance, with confidence and with a sense of belonging.
A few weeks ago, my 4 year old son Asher had a nightmare in the middle of the night. He didn’t care that we were asleep, nor did he care if we slept for the rest of the night. With tears in his eyes, he exploded into our bedroom, pounced on our bed and weaseled his way in between me and his mother…and he was welcome! Why? Because he’s my son.
Now that we are saved and adopted into God’s family, we are told that we can come boldly into His presence. There we will obtain mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Mercy is God withholding from us His wrath which we deserve. In the OT, the word “mercy” pictures His pity and compassion for His children (Psalms 103). That night my son Asher was not met with wrath or irritation, but with concern and understanding that he was a four year old who was afraid and needed help. Hebrews 4:16 goes on to say that we will “find grace to help in time of need.” What is grace? Grace for the believer is God’s enabling power to live this life as He would have us to.
What is your present need today? Do you need help parenting your children? Do you need help loving your spouse? Do you have needs when it comes to making decisions? You need grace! Do you need help to be pure? Do you need victory over discontentment? Do you struggle being thankful in the midst of hard circumstances? You need grace!
Can we really come to God with these types of struggles? Does He even understand what it’s like to be human? Verse 15 tells us that our great high priest knows and understands what it’s like to live in this fallen world, and that He was tried and tested just like we are except He never succumbed to temptation. He knows that we need His grace…He knows how much we need…He knows when we need it. But we are told to come boldly and ask for it!
Maybe you wonder if God is really concerned about the details of our lives…if He really hears us or wants us to come to Him with our little concerns. Just as the veil in the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, God’s own Son, Jesus Christ was torn so that people like me and you can come boldly into His presence in our time of need!
-- Aaron Coffey
Arise, my Soul, Arise!