“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 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.” – Hebrews 4:14-16

I want to be in His presence more than anything else. There’s just something about His presence that makes me feel whole. More than just a tingling feeling in my body, my soul is satisfied to its core. What people think about me, what I need to do… it all seems to fade as He reveals His glory. My heart is so overwhelmed that I must share with others. Every time I come, there’s something new waiting for me. Ring a bell?

Sounds great, right? If you were to ask an Israelite over 2,000 years ago what it was like for them to enter into God’s presence, you would receive a completely different answer. He may look at you like you were a pagan because, back then, the presence of God was too holy for anybody to even come near. When God freed the Israelites out of Egypt and as they wandered the dessert, God commanded them to build a tabernacle wherever they went at the center of all the tribes. It was so significant that there are 15 chapters (Exodus 25-39) dedicated to even the exact measurements. The tabernacle was where God would dwell among his people “…make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8). Here’s a picture of what the tabernacle looked like. Inside the holy of holies, there was a thick curtain separating the ark of the covenant, where the glory of His presences dwelled.

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Image source here.

Now, people would come daily to the tabernacle with different types of sacrifices, depending on the sin they committed, to the front gate where a priest would be waiting. The priest would then take your sacrifice, slaughter it, skin it, and burn it in front of you. The priest would walk into the holy place by washing in the laver basin and then attend to the lampstand, table of showbread, and the alter of incense.
Then, once a year, there would be a huge festival (day of atonement) with all eyes on the high priest. He’d have to go through a ceremonial cleansing process and then tie a rope around him with a bell just to make sure the people knew he was still alive.  The high priest would go once a year on the day of atonement into the holy of holies, but it was so holy that  there would be smoke to cover his eyes from seeing the fullness of His glory. This is just ONCE a year for ONE man, just to enter into God’s presence.

Ask yourself, where is the love, the joy, and peace in this? Slaughtering an innocent animal every time you sin? You don’t even actually get to come into his presence, let alone come close. You can literally see the separation of you and His presence: the gate, the altar, the inner court, etc. Seems impossible. If I were the Israelites, coming to God would become a religious duty where I have to come, I have to do this and that, I have to pray, routines, etc., rather than a desire for me to encounter God. Sound familiar? (Hebrews 3:15)

This is where Christ comes into the picture. Jesus comes and flips this inside out. INSTEAD:

I AM going to take all of that and put it on me once and for all. I AM going to be the gate. I AM going to carry my own altar in the form of the cross. The slaughtering of the pure animal is going to be my pure life. The sacrifices and blood will be my own. The body broken is going to be my body. I’m going to be the bread and the light. My cries are going to be heard and rise to God as incense. My death will rip the curtain that once separated you. I WILL be the way. (Imagine the picture above with no more rituals in middle but only Christ standing in between the Holy of Holies and you at the gate)

Now, we put Christ at the center–not a law, not rituals, not a tabernacle, but Him. We can now come confidently into the holy of Holies and lose ourselves in His presence. We do this not once a year, but every moment through Christ. He is now and forevermore our High Priest. No more “have to,” no more separation, no more duty, but rather a direct access to a living relationship with the Father. (Ephesians 3:17, Hebrews 7:23-25)

Not only does He make the way for us, but Christ says He sympathizes with our weaknesses. Too many times I find people saying, “you don’t understand, you don’t know how bad it was, you don’t know the pains… etc.” But Christ says that’s the reason why He came to this earth. To live with us and to sit among sinners, like us, who find ourselves weak and sick. When you’re hungry, when you’re walking, when you’re working, when you’re on a boat going nowhere, when everything is going well and you’re seeing miracles come true left and right, and even on the brink of death, Christ is with you. Immanuel. (Hebrews 4:14)

Let’s stop having victim mentalities and feel that we are far from God. Christ made a way for us. He doesn’t just leave an open door for us to walk through, but He walks with us as He knows our weaknesses. In His presence, we find His mercy and grace. That is all we need, for His grace is sufficient for us in all things. The Great High Priest now invites you to be a part of His royal priesthood, forevermore. During this season, let us thank Jesus for being our High Priest.

“Once you have tasted of the goodness of His presence, nothing else will satisfy you. Even one day of His presence is better than the best the world could ever offer you.” – James W. Goll (1 Peter 2:9)

Photograph above by All Things Grace.

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Andrew Kim is currently serving as a youth pastor and pursuing a Masters in Divinity. He loves going on random adventures, eating, and chilling.