Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

02/25/2018 A.M.

 

Just A Closer Walk With God

Exodus 26.31-33

 

God has always wanted to be close to His creation... He’s always wanted a…Hand-holding… Walking… Talking… Relationship with us.

• In the Garden... He came walking & talking with Adam & Eve...

• He and Enoch walked together...

• Genesis 6.9 tells us that because of his righteousness... Noah walked with God.

• Abraham was known as the friend of God...

• David was a man after God’s own heart.

• The nation of Israel was told to build a Tabernacle... A Temple where God could live among His people...

 

Genesis 25.8 & 9 reads... Make a sanctuary for Me... And I will dwell among you.

 

This sanctuary was divided into two rooms... The Holy Place... And the Most Holy Place.  Dividing the two rooms was a... veil...A curtain... Its description is found in Exodus 26.31-34... Read it with me from your Worship Handout... Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim worked into it by a skilled craftsman. Hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold... Hang the curtain from the clasps. Place the ark of the Testimony behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. Put the atonement cover on the ark of the Testimony in the Most Holy Place.

 

In this Most Holy Place was a special piece of furniture known as the Ark of the Covenant.  This was a chest made of acacia wood overlaid with Gold... inside and out.  It was rectangular... Three feet nine inches long...Two feet three inches wide and high.

 

The lid to this chest was known as the Mercy seat... It was also overlaid with Gold... On top of this lid stood two cherubim...Facing one another...

 

Scripture tells us that God was present between these two cherubim... In a brilliant cloud... In an unapproachable light.

 

Exodus 25.22 has God instructing Moses... Above the cover... Between the two cherubim... I will meet with you...And give you all my commands for the Israelites.

 

Leviticus 16.2 reads...Tell your brother Aaron not to come into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark... Whenever he chooses or else he will die, because I appear in the cloud over the atonement cover.

 

2 Samuel 6.2 speaking of David... He and all his men set out to bring the Ark of the Lord Almighty... Who is enthroned between the cherubim.

 

Isaiah 37.16... O Lord Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth.

 

This brilliant light or cloud is sometimes referred to as the God’s Shekinah Glory.

 

The word Shekinah doesn’t appear in our English Bibles... But is from the same root word for Tabernacle and refers to the Presence of God.

 

The contents of this chest are of interest... Moses was instructed to place three items there...

 

A pot of manna that never spoiled...The bread-like substance that God provided for them to eat in the Desert Wilderness.

 

Aaron’s Rod that budded... You recall that the Israelites rebelled against Aaron as their High Priest... And God demonstrated His approval of Aaron’s authority by causing his walking stick... An Almond branch... To grow leaves... To bud...To bring forth a living flower... And bring forth Almonds... All this happened overnight.

 

The stone tablets...Containing the Ten Commandments...

 

It’s interesting to note that these three items served as a constant reminder of Israel’s sins... Their failures... Their complaining and murmuring againstGod... Their rejecting His authority... And their constant breaking of the Commandments...

 

But note this... In spite of their sins... In spite of their failures... God wanted to dwell among them... And did in this Most Holy Place.

 

Not only did God’s glory dwell between the Cherubim... It was here that the sins of the people were... Moved forward... Moved out of their conscience...Out of their memory... For a year-at-a-time.

 

This happened when the High Priest came into the Most Holy Place... Once a year... On the Day of Atonement... He sprinkled the Blood of the Atonement Lamb on the lid of this chest... The Mercy Seat… The place of forgiveness.

 

Now church... Let’s move forward 500 years...

TheTabernacle has been replaced by Solomon’s Temple... A massive structure that rivaled any building of that time.  The Day it was dedicated... We’re told that The Glory of God came and filled the Temple... Again making His home between the two cherubim.  That initial glory was so bright that the dedication ceremonies had to be stopped.  410 years later... This Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar.

 

The last chapter of Jeremiah tells us that every building of importance in Jerusalem was razzed and burned to the ground... That included Solomon’s Temple.

 

We move forward another 500 years to the time of Jesus... King Herod was building a New Temple for Jews... One what would rival Solomon’s.

 

The new Holy of Holies was expanded... Now standing... 60 feet High... 30 feet Wide...The Veil... The Curtain... Covered the entire width and height... Think of it…That’s almost twice the height of this ceiling.

 

Jewish historians tell us that this curtain was a handbreadth thick... That’s four inches... Made of... Blue... Red... And Purple… Twisted Linen.  Embroidered on it was the form of cherubim.

 

History tells us that this veil was so massive that it took 300 priests to move or manipulate it.  Josephus says that horses tied to each side could not have torn the four inch thick material.

 

Let’s set these Scriptural and historical facts aside a moment and consider this important fact... That being that Jesus tore that curtain... In fact His body was that curtain... Listen to Hebrews 10.19-22... Therefore, brothers, 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... So since we have a great priest over the house of God... Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

 

Listen to other Scriptures from

Hebrews 6.19-20... We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain... Where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

 

Hebrews 9.24-26...For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself... WHY?... To appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.

 

Then there is 2 Corinthians 3.16-18... But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

 

Go with me now to Jerusalem... We’re standing just outside the Temple... In the Gentile Courtyard... Because we’re Gentile... We can’t get any closer to the Holy Place... And its veil.

 

It’s approaching the sixth hour... Caiaphas is about to do his once-a-year-duty... Enter the Most Holy Place with the Blood of Atonement... Excitement and Anticipation are running high. This is the highlight of the Jewish year... Atonement!

 

But something else is happening that day... Outside the City Walls... On a Hill far away... Stood an Old Rugged Cross...

• The Son of God...

• God in the flesh...

• That Glory between the cherubim...

Was there in human form.

Suddenly...Strange... Unexplainable... Supernatural... Miraculous... Things begin to happen...

• Darkness envelops the earth

• At the very moment Caiaphas was entering the Most Holy Place... Jesus cries out with a loud voice... Tetelestai...Tetelestai... It is finished!!

• The earth begins to quake...

• Unexplainably... Dead bodies begin to come from their graves... Matthew tells us that after Jesus’ resurrection... Those resurrected that day made appearances in the City.

• And at that moment... The Veil of the Temple is ripped from top to Bottom. Everybody standing with us on the Temple Mound is frightened... Caiaphas is panic stricken...

• This curtain is 60 feet in the air...

• It’s four inches thick...

• A curtain that took 300 men just to move it... A curtain that horses couldn’t have pulled apart...

 

Now...The unseen hand of God tears it apart from top to bottom.

The sound must have been deafening.

All three Synoptic Gospels record the event.

• Now the Ark of the Convenient is exposed...

• So is the Mercy Seat...

• The Cherubim...

• The Light of God’s Glory.

 

The barrier between God and man has been removed... God’s glory is exposed. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

 

Now...Everyone who wants to have a relationship with God...

• Can approach His Throne with confidence of forgiveness and salvation...

• Can have an... Intimate... Walking talking... Indwelling... Relationship with Him.


Ha...Did this really happen?... Is there any historical evidence that... Something supernatural took place in the Temple... the Day Jesus Died?

 

Secular Jewish writers... Along with the Talmud... Indicate that strange things began TO happened within and around the Temple... Some 40 years before its Destruction by Titus in 70 AD...

• Things like the western lights on the Seven Candled Menorah would not stay lit after the death of Jesus.

• At night the gates and the doors off the Temple were closed... But the next morning... The attending Priest would find them wide open… They found it difficult to keep them shut!

• The casting of lots to determine the Atonement Lamb... God’s lot always ended up in the right hand... After the death of Jesus... It’s said that never happened... But ended up in the left.

• The Talmud tells us that... There was a twisted thread in the veil that supernaturally changed from a crimson color to pure white on the Day of Atonement... But after the splitting of the veil... The twisted thread never changed color again.

 

This Talmud revelation seems to have its basis in Isaiah 1.18... Come now says the Lord... Come let’s settle the matter... Though your sins are as scarlet... They will be as white as snow... Though they are red like crimson... They will be as wool.

 

Secular Jewish writers tell us these things started happening 40 years before the Temple’s destruction in 70 AD.... What happened 40 years before 70 AD?... Jesus’death on the cross!

 

Even though the torn curtain is not mentionED in the Talmud... These and other strange and unexplainable phenomenon in and around the Temple seemed to indicate that the presence of God had departed... Which led one Rabbi to write... O Temple... Why do you frighten us so?

 

Well...Jesus dies... The curtain which stood between God and man was supernaturally torn into... Top-to-bottom.

What does this mean to us here this morning?...

Perhaps lots of things... But allow me to mention four...

As we revisit the scene and its elements…

 

First... Now the Mercy Seat is... Exposed... Opened... Not just to the High Priest...But to anybody who wants a relationship with God.

 

Jesus has entered... Paving the way for us... He has become our High Priest forever... Made sacrifice for us... Once for all time... Now each of us are priests with priestly privileges... One of which is the forgiveness signified by this Mercy Seat... Amen?

 

Secondly... We see the pot of Manna.

Jesus is our bread of life... He is our sin provision... By His blood we are forgiven.

 

First John 2.2 says... He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

 

God’s provision for Israel has come to all men everywhere... NOW... There is neither Jew nor Gentle... Male or Female... Bond or free... Rich or poor... Educated or uneducated... Privileged or underprivileged... God has provided spiritual manna for all.

 

There is noother name given to men under all of heaven... Whereby we can be saved.

 

I am the way...I am the Truth... I am the Life... There is no access to the Father... To Heaven... To forgiveness... Except through me.

 

Thirdly... Now...Jesusis our authority.

Matthew 28.18-20 has Jesus saying... All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me... Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father... Son and Holy Spirit... Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. I will be with you always.

 

Hebrews 2.7& 8 reads... You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet. In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him.

 

Ephesians 1.22... And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church.

 

Number four...Removing the curtain means that Jesus is our truth.

In the beginning was the Word... And the Word was with God... And was God... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us... And we saw Him filled with Grace and truth.

• Truth that sets us free...

• Truth that sanctifies us

• Truth that purifies us through His blood as we walk in its light.

 

It was Jesus who said... Heaven and earth will pass away... But... My Words... My Truth...  Will never pass away...

 

Church...It will be by His Word... His Truth... That one day we’ll be judged... Amen?

 

The Veil... This Temple Curtain...

• Was a symbol of separation...

• It symbolized the fact that sin separated us from God...

• Sin kept us from a walking and talking relationship with Him...

• Sin kept us from having an intimate relationship...

A relationship that God wanted and intended from the very beginning.

 

It’s interesting to note that as the Apostle John finishes his vision in Revelation chapter 21... He writes... Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem,coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away... What is next?... And there was no longer any sea.

 

John was on the island of Patmos... A 7 mile long by 6 mile wide rock pile in the middle of the Aegean Sea... The sea was John’s separation... From the church... From God’s people... From society in general... And I’m certain that he felt the sea separated him from God...

 

But in this vision... Like the torn curtain...

• There is no more separation...

• No more sea.

 

I believe the New Jerusalem symbolizes nothing... But the church...

• Where God lives in us... Works in us... Through the Spirit He gave us...

• Because we are now His children... We can have that intimate... Abba Father... Walking and Talking... Him dwelling in us... Relationship.

A relationship where the blood of Jesus does not forgive or move our sins forward once a year... But forgives us moment-by-moment... Second-by-second... As we walk in the light with Him.

 

And one day... And one day... The church... The New Jerusalem... WiLL be fully realized... And our walk with Him will... not be by faith... But face-to-face... we’ll walk by sight... And He’ll wipe away every tear... There will be no more death... Nor mourning... Nor crying... Nor pain… All made possible by a torn curtain.

 

Question...What’s your relationship with God this morning?

• Are you His child?...

• Have you been clothed with His Son in Baptism?...

• Had your heart sprinkled with His Blood?....

• Body His Blood... Our bodies washed in pure water?...

• Is He our intimate Abba Father?...

• Are we walking with Him?...

• Is He forgiving our sins the moment they’re committed?

Are we taking advantage of the torn curtain... The fact that... IN CHRIST... There is no more sin?

 

The invitation is that we accept Jesus as... Our Savior...High Priest... As the atonement for our sins... As we stand and sing together.