The home where I grew up in the beautiful and mountainous countryside of Northwest New Jersey was immediately next to an exclusive country club. Our home was opposite the first hole, and it was not unusual for me to find a golf ball in the yard. If a right-handed golfer severely hooked his first shot of the day off the Number One tee, I was the new owner of his golf ball.
Being a bit of an entrepreneurial kid, I collected those golf balls, as well has many hundreds of others that I found by walking around the wooded perimeter of the course, and sold them back to the dopey golfers who lost them! I would wash them up and display them in egg cartons on a bench on the 18th tee.
But there were many hazards for me in this business. My excessive fear of snakes relates to this time of my life. And since the golf club was private, I was NOT allowed on it whatsoever. So my business was truly an underground, surreptitious operation. Most of my golf ball hunting was done in fields and forests just over the property lines of the club, but at certain points I would have to quickly cross a section of the course to get to the next area … always watching to be sure I was not discovered and chased by the grounds crew.
I had one classmate whose family had a membership at the club. One day he invited me to be his guest, and I was thrilled! With him – a member known there to everyone at the pool, the clubhouse and the pro shop, I was able to boldly walk around places I would have never been allowed to go by myself without him.
In the story of Esther, we have been talking about how in chapters four and five that Queen Esther remarked how even she was not assuredly able to come into the King’s presence without his original invitation. In similar manner, we may ask the question as to who we think we are to go into the presence of the Creator God of the universe. He is perfect and holy — all the stuff that we are not. And yet the Scriptures say we can have an open and bold presence with him, and that in fact he welcomes it!
As one of what is on my first handful of all-time favorite passages is this one from Hebrews 4:12-16 …
12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Oh man … that sounds rather scary! There is no hiding the mess that each of us are! God sees through it as if our every fault is visible in the open sunlight in the middle of a vast wheat field. There is no hiding anything! But read on …
14 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. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 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.
Here is the great asset possessed by the believer in Christ. He is a great high priest who is in the very presence of God. Let me remind you what a priest does — he represents the people before God (whereas a prophet represented God before the people). Jesus was fully human like us, yet without sin and therefore perfect. He represents us before God as having paid our debt of sin, and we have therefore the bold encouragement to come openly before God with our needs — including with our sins and weaknesses that need forgiveness and His strength to overcome.
We are with Christ. And he has made us “members” and “family” who belong in God’s presence without fear of being harmed or driven away. I don’t know how to help anyone who cannot see the awesomeness of this privilege. So use it!