Tabernacle – Holy of Holies

the curtain

This curtain separated the two sacred rooms in the Tabernacle—the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. The priest entered the Holy Place each day to commune with God and to tend to the altar of incense, the lampstand, and the table with the Bread of the Presence. The Most Holy Place was where God himself dwelt, his presence resting on the atonement cover, which covered the Ark of the Covenant. Only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place. Even he could do so only once a year (on the Day of Atonement) to make atonement for the sins of the nation as a whole.

When Jesus Christ died on the cross, the curtain in the Temple (which had replaced the Tabernacle) tore from top to bottom (Mark 15:38), symbolizing our free access to God because of Jesus’ death. No longer did people have to approach God through priests and sacrifices. (Life Application Bible)

It was so difficult to approach the presence of God during those days. Today we have full access to God. What do we do about it? Do we take it lightly?

Imagine if you have full access to the President. How confident and privileged you would be. You would have very little to worry about because you know you will have your needs met. Yet when we have full access to God we don’t have the same level of confidence. We don’t make full use of it.

the ark of the covenant

(Heb 9:3-4 NIV)  Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, {4} which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.

The three things had something in common. They had to do with the people’s grumbling that Moses had brought them out of Egypt.

The manna came about when the people complained that they did not have enough to eat.

(Exo 16:2-3 NIV)  In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. {3} The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

The stone tablets were the replacement tablets that were given after the first one was destroyed when the people grumbled (Ex 32:1-19).

Likewise the staff is a reminder of the time the people grumbled against God.

(Num 17:5 NIV)  The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites.”

(Num 17:10 NIV)  The LORD said to Moses, “Put back Aaron’s staff in front of the Testimony, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die.”

The ark contained three things to remind us of our rebellion against God. This ark is then covered by the mercy seat.

(James 2:13 NIV)  because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

The three items remind us that man is sinful and rebellious. There is nothing good in us to merit God’s favor. Yet God showed His favor towards us in view of His mercy.

the mercy seat

MERCY SEAT A slab of pure gold measuring about 45 inches by 27 inches which sat atop the ark of the covenant which was the same size. It was the base for the golden cherubim (Ex. 25:17-19,21) and symbolized the throne from which God ruled Israel (Lev. 16:2; Num. 7:89). On the Day of Atonement the high priest sprinkled the blood of a sacrificial lamb on the mercy seat as a plea for forgiveness for the sins of the nation (Lev. 16:15). (Source: Holman Dictionary)

Inside the ark lay three items that symbolized man’s rebellion against God. This ark was then covered with the mercy seat. Blood is sprinkled on this seat so that our sins can be forgiven. The cherubims are mighty angels that guard Paradise.

In Gen_3:24 the cherubim are placed by God, after the expulsion of Adam from the garden of Eden, at the east thereof, together with the flaming sword “to keep the way of the tree of life.” If we read between the lines of the Paradise account in Gen. (compare Gen_3:8), the garden of Eden, the primeval abode of man, reveals itself as more than that: it was apparently the dwelling-place of God. (Source: ISBE)

The cherubims on the mercy seat, where the presence of God is, guards against anyone who would enter into His presence. No one can approach God except for the virtue of the blood that was sacrificed on the seat.

We have no virtues of our own. We only have rebellion against God. Even the redeemed are redeemed only by the blood of Jesus. There should not be the slightest element of self-righteousness in us because we have none.

Sometimes we are tempted to be judgmental when others appear to be less “holy” than us, less disciplined in doing Christian activities like going to church, reading the Bible and prayer. We forget that we are no better than a sinner like them in God’s sight. And if not for the blood, we would not gotten past the cherubims to enter into God’s presence.