ALL THINGS NEW

A NEW AND LIVING WAY

The Bible makes it clear that we, as sinners, are excluded from the presence of God, we have no right of access into his presence.

This exclusion, this disconnection, this severance began with the entry of sin in Genesis 3. In choosing to live independently from God and his word, we not only lost connection with God, we also ceased to ‘live’; we actually chose ‘death’. God had made it quite clear in Genesis 2:17 that death would result from disobedience. Having rejected God we forfeited spiritual life, for such life exists only in connection with God.

This loss of spiritual life, this banning from spiritual life, that resulted from our disconnection from God is communicated in Genesis 3:22-24. There the way to the ‘tree of life’ is blocked by cherubim and a flaming sword. Notice that the ‘tree of life’ is not destroyed, it is left intact, but our access to it is denied, we are banned from ‘life’.

God is still there, but we, as sinners, are disconnected from him and banned from his presence.
‘Life’ is still there, but we are outlawed and exiled from it.

The questions arise: “How can sinners reconnect with God? How can those who are dead in sin be restored to ‘life’?” These questions are actually just one question, because God and ‘life’ are inseparable. To have God is to have life. To not have God is to not have ‘life’. But, is there a way back to God and to life?

And the Bible answers: ‘Yes. There is.’

This way back to God, by which the sinner may reconnect with God, and thus with ‘life’, is symbolized in Old Testament ritual, where we find another place where cherubim have a similar prohibitive role, banning access to God.

Golden cherubim were embroidered on the curtain that separated the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place in the tabernacle, and later the temple [Exodus 26:31-33]. The Most Holy Place was the symbolic presence of God. No one was permitted to enter through this curtain except the High Priest, once a year, and then only in accordance with very strict regulations. This happened on the Day of Atonement [see Leviticus 16].  Only on this day was the High Priest permitted to enter through the curtain, beyond the cherubim. On this day, having first offered sacrifices for his own sins and undergone ritual purification, he entered the symbolic presence of God with the blood of a goat to make atonement for the sins of the people. Here we have a representative mediator bearing the blood of a substitutionary sacrifice.

This annual ritual entry into the symbolic presence of God pointed to a reality greater than itself. In this ultimate reality the ultimate and eternal High Priest, Jesus Christ, enters into the actual presence of God, bearing his own blood once-for-all to make permanent atonement for sin.

In Matthew 27:50-51 we read that at the very moment that Jesus died the temple curtain – that prohibitive symbol of our disconnection from God and exclusion from God’s presence - was ripped away:

‘And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.’

Access into the presence of God is restored.

“For through him we both have access to the Father, by one Spirit” [Ephesians 2:18]
“In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence” [Ephesians 3:12]
“Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence” [Hebrews 4:16]

No more do we need to fear the exclusion and separation from God depicted in Isaiah 59:2 - “… your iniquities have separated you from your God; you sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear” – rather we now know with full assurance that Jesus Christ has opened for us, not a temporary, ritual, symbolic way, but the ultimate, eternal, real, new and living way into the very presence of God:

 “… we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body …” [Hebrews 10:19,20].

This new and living way into the presence of God is the ‘body’ of Jesus Christ. By his body … because of his incarnation, because he, who is eternal God, became man, became flesh, because he lived the authentic human life, without sin, because he bore in his body the total punishment for our sin, because he now lives forevermore as our Representative in the presence of God … we now have complete and permanent access to God. No more separation. No more exclusion. No more banishment.

And we are no longer ‘dead’. We now ‘live’. Because in connecting by faith with Jesus Christ, the new and living way, we are reconnected to God.  [1John 5:11,12,20]

© Rosemary Bardsley 2012