Probably more than a couple of you reading this have no memory of a silly but popular TV game show in the 60s and 70s called “Let’s Make a Deal.” People from the audience became “traders” and were given a prize for being selected that was of some moderate value – like a television. They were then offered the opportunity to either take the prize and be content with what they had, or to trade it for something unseen and unknown, often hidden behind one of three curtains. It could be something of truly great value, or something absolutely ridiculous and worthless.
The Hebrews were essentially on the edge of – from the writer’s perspective – making a terrible deal. They were ready to keep the familiar old thing that they knew (the earthly, visible, Levitical system of sacrifices) rather than trading it for something of inestimable and eternal value (Christ and the New Covenant).
But here was the deal for them: what was behind the curtain was not unknowable. The curtain was open to see what was there – literally, it was. The curtain spoken of in our passage today was that one that prevented access to the Most Holy Place in the temple – the one that only the high priest went behind on one day of each year.
Recall though what had happened at the moment of Christ’s death. There was an earthquake that caused this huge, thick, heavy curtain to rip from top to the bottom. The result was that the most holy place was open for view. And of course this all symbolized that an entirely new day had arrived with a final sacrifice for sin. The old system was now obsolete.
Details about this work of Christ as the ultimate high priest have been the theme of our most recent chapters. The way was now open. Jesus is our high priest at the right hand of God. There is open and confident access to the very presence of God – what the passage today calls “a new and living way.” The Law of the Old Testament, with its limited access to God’s presence said, “Danger, stay away, judgment awaits any who dare to enter the holy place.” But the New Testament message of the Gospel says rather, “Come to God through the blood of Christ; judgment has already been made and the price paid.”
There are three practical applications, set off by three “let us …” statements …
- We can confidently draw near to God. What a wonderful truth this is. The creator God wants us who know him as our Lord and Savior to enter right into his royal presence without any fear of judgment. Amazing truth.
- We have a hope to hold onto in any and every circumstance. This is because of God’s faithfulness. There is nothing that happens outside of that.
- We should serve one another by being faithful to be together. When you don’t do this, you hurt both yourself and other people. We need each other. None of us have everything that we need to any extent that we can make it by ourselves. Is there an application out of this verse that missing church should be far more rare than common? Yep! God said it, not me! See you Sunday, if not before.
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 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. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.