September 23 I Friday
Song of Solomon 1-3
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess…Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence…” —Hebrews 4:14, 16
In the Old Testament, we read the story of God liberating a nation from their oppression. God heard the cry of His people, the Israelites, in Egypt; they were in bondage to Pharaoh and God liberated them through Moses. Unlike any other god in the ancient Near East, God is the God of the oppressed, who cares for the poor and needy. He is the God who sets people free.
There are two types of freedom. The Israelites have been set free from something and have been set free for something. There is the freedom from oppression and from suffering, but there is also freedom to become what we were intended to be, the freedom to enter into the fullness of who we were meant to be and the freedom to build something new.
God led them to a space that nobody owned, to a part of the world where no boot of empire could be felt. Then, He revealed Himself and met with His people on Mount Sinai. At this mountain, He told the Israelites that they were set free from bondage and were set free for the fullness of all He had for them. Exodus 20:18, however, reveals the Israelites’ reaction: “When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance....” The Israelites were afraid to draw near to God. The mountain had all kinds of boundaries to protect the Israelites from a Holy God, because the mountain displayed the holiness of God among a people who were unholy. God was among His people but He was set apart from His people; they interacted with Him but from a distance.
When the Israelites constructed the Tabernacle in the wilderness and subsequently the Temple, we will find layers of separation between the entrance and the Holy of Holies, between the people and a Holy God. In the New Testament, Jesus’s death broke down the barrier between God and humanity. We do not have to dwell in the outer courts because Christ Himself does not dwell in the outer courts. Instead, we have come to Jesus, the Mediator of a new covenant, the One who acted on our behalf, the One who offered up His life on our behalf and reconciled us to God. We have come to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. We have come to Christ whose blood speaks out for grace, for mercy, for forgiveness and not for judgment or for vengeance.
Have we come to God or are we still standing at a distance?
Prayer: Dear God, You are holy and I am a sinner. It is only by Your grace, Your mercy and Your forgiveness that I am able to approach Your throne of grace with confidence. Thank You, Lord.