The Curtain is Down
and the Door is Open
READ Ezekiel 40:1-42:20
SITUATION God gave Ezekiel, a priest, the measurements of Solomon's Temple. The Temple had been destroyed at the beginning of captivity.
OBSERVATION God reveals his perfect kingdom. The details of his vision gave the Jews hope for a restored worship and shows us the importance of true God-centered worship.
INSPIRATION The Holy of Holies, you'll remember, was a part of the Temple no one could enter, Jewish worshipers could enter the outer court, but only the priests could enter the Holy Place. And no one, except the high priest on one day of the year, entered the Holy of Holies. No one. Why? Because the shekinah glory--the glory of God--was present.
If you were told you were free to enter the Oval Office of the White House, you would likely shake your head and chuckle, "Your one brick short of load, buddy." Multiply your disbelief by a thousand, and you'll have an idea of how a Jew would feel if someone told him he could enter the Holy of Holies. "Yea, right. You're one bagel short of a dozen!"
No one but the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies. No one. To do so meant death. Two of Aaron's sons died when they entered the Holy of Holies in order to offer sacrifices to the Lord (Leviticus 16:1-2). In no uncertain terms the curtain declared: "This far and no father!"
What did fifteen hundred years of a curtain-draped Holy of Holies communicate? Simple. God is holy . . . separate from us and unapproachable. Even Moses was told "You cannot see my face because no one can see me and live" (Exodus 33:20). God is holy, and we are sinners, and there is a distance between us.
Isn't this our problem? We know God is good. We know we are not, and we feel far from God. The ancient words of Job are ours, "I wish there were someone to make peace between us, someone to decide our case" (Job 9:33).
Oh, but there is! Jesus hasn't left us with an unapproachable God. Yes, God is holy. Yes, we are sinful. But yes, yes, yes, Jesus is our mediator. "There is one God and one way human beings can reach God. That way is through Jesus Christ, who is himself human" (1 Timothy 2:5). Is not a mediator one who goes between? Wasn't Jesus the curtain between us and God? And wasn't his flesh torn?
What appeared to be the cruelty of man was actually the sovereignty of God. Matthew tells us : "But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice and died. Then the curtain in the Temple was torn into two pieces, from the top to the bottom" (27:50-51).
It's as if the hands of heaven had been gripping the veil, waiting for this moment. Keep in mind the size of the curtain --sixty feet tall and thirty feet wide. One instant it was whole; the next is was ripped in two from top to bottom. No delay. No hesitation.
What did the torn curtain mean? For the Jews it meant no more barrier between them and the Holy of Holies. No more priests to go between them and God. No more animal sacrifices to atone for their sins.
And for us? What did the torn curtain signify for us?
We are welcome to enter into God presence--any day, any time. God has removed the barrier that separates us from him. The barrier of sin? Down. He has removed the curtain.
But we have a tendency to put the barrier back up. Though there is no curtain in a temple, there is a curtain in the heart. Like the ticks on the clock are the mistakes of the heart. And sometimes, no oftentimes, we allow those mistakes to keep us from God. Our guilty conscience becomes a curtain that separates us from God.
As a result we hide from our Maker . . .
Somewhere, sometime you got tangled up in garbage, and you've been avoiding God. You've allowed a veil of guilt to come between you and your Father. You wonder if you could ever feel close again. The message of the torn flesh is you can. God welcomes you, God is not avoiding you. God is not resisting you. The curtain is down, the door is open, and God invites you in.
Don't trust your conscience. Trust in the cross. The blood has been spilt and the veil has been split. You are welcome in God's presence. (From He Choose The Nails by Max Lucado)
APPLICATION Is there anything keeping you from enterning God's presence in worship? Make a list of any distractions you encounter. Confess any sins that distract you from your fellowship with him.
EXPLORATION Temple -- 1 Chronicles 22:19' 29:6-13; 2 Chronicles 7:1-6; Ezra 3:10-13; Luke 1:8-10; Hebrews 4:15-16.
The Devotional Bible - Experiencing the Heart of Jesus; Max Lucado General Editor, Thomas Nelson Publishers, New Century Version