To Secure us Confident Access to God
Have you ever visited a town that you didn’t know and found yourself caught up in what seems like an impossible one way system? Following your map you realise you are near your desired destination but then suddenly you see a No Entry sign blocking the access to the very road you want to take. Perhaps you can even see 20 yards down that road the building you want with its car park and, if you feel under pressure, you may be tempted to ignore the sign... but then you see a couple of policeman standing on the corner and you realise you’re going to have to find another solution.
How do you get where you want to go?
If you want to get to God then the Bible has the answer. Indeed we could read the entire Bible as providing an extended answer to the simple question: how can men and women have access to God?
Very early on Adam and Eve are described as living in the Garden of Eden where they are able to enjoy unfettered access to God. But all that changed with the rebellion of our first parents. So we read that when the LORD walked in the garden in the cool of the day Adam and Eve tried to hide from him as they initiated the first cover-
Men and women have had various responses to being thus cut off from God:
Some simply think the state we’re in is normal – this is all there is to life. This amounts to a denial that we are actually cut off from God
Some react angrily and blame God for every subsequent problem they face and don’t want to have anything to do with him
Most, I suppose, if pressed, would recognise that they are somewhat distanced from God. However their behaviour suggests that such separation would be an easy thing to rectify if they really wanted to. Such thinking takes many different forms from a vague do-
Others (those whom the Spirit of God stirs up) desperately want to be right with God and they know that they can’t do anything themselves to secure access to him
The Desire for God
In the midst of his sufferings the thing Job most wanted was to have access to God. He felt cut off from God and wanted to be able to lay out his case before him. How frustrating he found it that he wasn’t able to and so he complained that he didn’t know where to find him:
Job 13:3 "I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to argue my case with God."
Job 23:3 "Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat!"
And, particularly in times of trouble, people will often try to turn to God for help or for comfort – but how are we to find him? How are we to have access to him? What does the Bible have to say?
Men and women may well like to think that they can come to God any way they want to – but that is rather like us wanting to drive straight past that No Entry sign we mentioned earlier. Jesus told us that he is the way, the only way, for any of us to come to the Father and this claim he made is supported everywhere in the Bible when we begin to understand it correctly.
So this evening, as we look continue to look at the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, we will find that this death addresses and resolves this problem of just how we might have access to God. And the access he secures for us is a confident one!
OT Tabernacle Worship
I wonder if you’ve ever got bogged down with all the elaborate details laid out in the Books of Moses concerning the setting up of that tent known as the Tabernacle. There are so many details aren’t there? So many measurements and so much description that we can get lost in it all. Why such detail? Why the different types of priest and different types of sacrifice? Why the multiplicity of sacrifices and offerings? Why the sheer repetition of it all?
Tabernacle worship which was set up when God freed his people from captivity in Egypt could not by-
It is the writer to the Hebrews who brings this out most clearly for us.
The letter was written to Jewish converts. Yes, they were Christians but some of them were hankering for the ‘smells and bells’ and the beautiful ceremonies they had known and enjoyed in the past. It was as though they thought they had lost something very good when they had become Christians. The author of the letter wrote them a very robust letter in which he focused on two main truths:
Firstly, Jesus himself was far greater than anyone who had gone before: be that an angel, a lawgiver like Moses, a priest be that Aaron or Melchizedek (who was himself greater than Abraham).
Secondly, Jesus’ ministry was far greater than the ministries ever exercised in the tabernacle.
In fact the writer to the Hebrews further explained that tabernacle worship was merely an earthy copy of a heavenly reality to which it faintly pointed. The reality centred on Jesus who alone could and did achieve what was necessary.
Writing of the OT priesthood the author of Hebrews put it like this:
Heb.8:5 "They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, "See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain."
The passage he quotes from the OT is taken from the Book of Exodus where we read:
The pattern Moses used for the construction and elaboration of the tabernacle was to be an earthly copy of something much greater and spiritual, in the heavenlies. That means that there is a certain correspondence between the earthly copy and the heavenly reality but it does not mean that there is any direct equivalence – the one is not the equal of the other rather the heavenly is far, far greater!
And so the writer to the Hebrews showed just how the new was superior to the old.
The old covenant worship of the tabernacle – however appealing and interesting it might have been -
Ah, but when it came to the New!! In seven ways the new was so much better than the pale shadowy image and type of the old:
It had a better priest Heb.9:11 – Jesus
Who served in a better sanctuary Heb.9:11 – heaven
And there presented a better offering Heb.9:12 – his own blood
By a better method Heb.9:12 -
Securing a better blessing Heb.9:12 -
With a better guarantee Heb.9:13-
And with a better result Heb.9:13-
The writer goes on to describe Christ as the mediator of a new covenant whereby he has secured an entry and a welcome for us in the very presence of God. He has already referred to the freedom we have now to present ourselves before God:
Heb.4:16 "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."
This freedom is ours bought at the price of Jesus’ own blood. His death has secured for us for all time an access into the presence of God. But it is not enough simply to know that such an access has been secured for us we must avail ourselves of this access.
Is that what we do, my friends?
Our great high priest who laid down his life for us is:
Ready and willing to help
Able to help
He knows all about human life and just how tough it can be for us
Are you in need? Go to God in Jesus’ name!
Have you messed up? Go to God in Jesus’ name!
Have you messed up again? – Go to God again in Jesus’ name!
You won’t wear him out with your going to him like this – Jesus has died to secure you just this privilege of going again and again and again and again and with confidence to God!
Listen again to the words of our text in Heb.10:
Some folk imagine prayer to be an easy thing – but in order to pray properly we must have access to our God and Father. To be received and heard we must be clean – if we were to be allowed in his presence as we are in our sin we would be an affront to his holiness and his majesty. How could we expect him to deal favourably with us if we were deliberately causing him offence by our on-
But now because of Christ we may come near and feast our hearts on the fullness of the flaming beauty of God’s holiness. He will not be dishonoured, as he would have been, had we come unclean into his presence. (Examples of Joseph being cleaned up before being taken to Pharaoh and Esther being given her cosmetics before going into Ahasuerus.)
In Christ we know that our sins have been dealt with and that not on a temporary or trial basis – he has dealt definitively with the guilt associated with our sin and so he has cleansed our conscience. Not only do we approach now without cringing fear but we approach with confidence.
Amazing as it appears we are as welcome in the presence of God as Jesus himself – because when God sees us his children he only ever sees as we are in our union with his Son.
I quoted the hymn at Tarry’s on Thursday but how appropriate it is!
Because the sinless Saviour died,
my sinful soul is counted free;
for God the Just is satisfied
to look on Him, and pardon me.
If this access has been won for us by the death of our Saviour then we must avail ourselves of it. We would dishonour our Saviour if we didn’t. We would do harm to ourselves if we didn’t. We would deprive others of blessing if we didn’t. It really is a no-
Eph.2:18 "For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father."
So as we close our service this evening let us sing the whole of that hymn:
"BEFORE the throne of God above".