Pete Phillips explains why being a Christian does not mean magical...
How can we find true completeness?
When Jesus came and died for us something amazing happened.
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 (Matthew 27:50-51)
This was not just high drama, an incidental report to provide colour and intrigue to the momentous event unfolding just to the east of the Temple. It was also hugely significant.
In its first room were the lampstand and the table with its consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, 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. Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. (Hebrews 9:2-5)
This was the arrangement in the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple in Jerusalem (though the ark had long gone) … right up to the moment of Jesus’ crucifixion. Then the curtain separating the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place was torn in two and everything changed in a moment. No longer was the High Priest to enter the Most Holy Place once a year on the Day of Atonement … to make atonement in the Most Holy Place until he comes out, having made atonement for himself, his household and the whole community of Israel. (Leviticus 16:17)
The curtain was no more, now all potentially have access to the Most Holy Place, through Jesus’ death on the cross. All that is required is sufficient faith to embrace this awesome truth.
We slip from the restrictions of Isaiah 59:2:
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.
… to the new glorious realities of Hebrews 10:19-22:
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 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, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
From a separation between man and his Maker that has lasted since the days of Adam, to the possibilities of true shalom and completeness, the shalom of salvation. The way has been opened. Surely the world would now change because who could resist this free gift? Who wouldn’t want to be able to draw near to God, without needing a High Priest in any way? If only things were that simple.
There is another shalom now made possible through this momentous act. Not only could we now be reconciled to God, but also to each other, in a shared community of believers, connected by this shared faith in all that Jesus has done for us. … (continued next week)
This is an extract from the book, Shalom, available for £10 at https://www.sppublishing.com/shalom-239-p.asp