My grandfather kind of scared me. Regular Sunday afternoon visits found him in a huge chair that looked like the kingly thrones in my childhood picture books. I never sat on his lap or really got to know him. He was an icon. Grandfather who sat in the big brown chair. Me the little girl who stood at a distance, wide-eyed and uncomfortable. Shyness my shelter. Intimidation his demeanor. Whether he realized it or not, I got the message to stay back. I heard stories of how well he provided for his ten children, but I was never one to feel comfortable to come close.
My other grandfather lived in Sweden. I met him one summer when I was ten. He also was an icon. Not only was his native language a barrier, his quiet, introverted personality kept me at arms length. He acknowledged me with a slight nod when we first met. Communication was difficult. Hugs, null and void. To come close was unheard of. It’s sad that, even though I’m sure they loved me, I never experienced a close relationship with either of my grandfathers.
Then there was my father. The greatest dad on earth! Warm, nurturing, welcoming and inviting. I adored him. As the baby of the family, I followed him everywhere. Accompanied him on trips to the store. Rode around on his shoulders. Sat on his lap. Held his hand. Whispered in his ear. I was his side kick. Always welcome to come close.
I don’t know why both my grandfathers restrained from showing their affection (perhaps it was their culture or personality or even the tough times they endured). But I am thankful for a dad who welcomed me with open arms. My father displayed the perfect image of our Heavenly Father. He showed me the unconditional love of my Creator. That God was both Provider and Protector. And I was never afraid to come close.
God longed for Israel to come close to Him. He had provided for them on their journey from Egypt to Kadesh to Marah and eventually to the promised land. He protected them with His righteous right hand. He loved them through their unfaithful disobedience. And He longed for a relationship with His people.
These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.
The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant and I turned away from them. This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people.
When Jesus had cried out again in a loud voce, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened up for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Questions to consider:
1. How did God describe the way His people came near to Him?
2. What did the new covenant promise?
3. What happened to the curtain in the tabernacle? What did it signify?
4. How are we to approach God? What does He provide when we do?
The first covenant God made with his people set up tabernacle regulations to give a picture of Jesus. In fact, the entire Old Testament points to Jesus. In the making of the tabernacle, Jesus is represented as the Gate opening the way to salvation; the Sacrifice at the Brazen Altar; the Laver representing the Living Word; the Door into the Holy Place; the Lamp stand representing the Light of the world; the Bread that gave life; and the Veil that was torn to open the way into the Most Holy Place. Because of His sacrifice, we are invited to enter behind that Veil into the very presence of our living God. Now that’s a relationship. That’s our invitation to come close. How will you rsvp?