Exodus 32

The Holy of Holies: The Place of Intimacy

Within the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant. A chest of acacia wood overlaid with pure gold inside and outside. This single piece of furniture contained three items within the chest:  the Ten Commandments on the stone tablets; Aaron’s rod that budded; and a golden pot of manna.  We will look at these in detail as we study this all important dwelling place of God. The lid of the chest was overlaid with gold with two cherubim angels at the two ends. They faced downward with outstretched wings over the atonement cover where the blood was brought once per year by the High Priest. This is where God’s Shekinah Glory appeared.

First we will look at the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. In Exodus 26:31-33, we read the detailed description God gave Moses of the Veil, or curtain that was at the entrance of the Holy of Holies.

“ Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim worked into it by skilled craftsman. Hang it on golden hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid  with gold and standing on four silver bases. Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of Testimony behind the curtain.”

Blue reminded the people of the tabernacle’s heavenly descent. Purple was the color of royalty, kingship and elegance. Scarlet denotes the blood, the pain, the sacrifice. This veil was to separate the holy place from the holy of holies. Since the tabernacle was carefully constructed after a pattern in heaven according to God’s detailed instructions.  This was a picture of heaven where God was and is enthroned in all His Glory. Glory had come down to man.  Surely this is what the songwriter had in mind when he wrote:  Heaven came down and glory filled my soul!

As we look back over the last few weeks of teaching, we see how God has clearly demonstrated the precise way, the only way we can come to this point and place of intimacy with Him. He has made it clear- there is only one way by which we can enter- through the gate, which Jesus said – I am the gate, anyone who enters through me, will be saved. ( John 10)  We entered by the gate in order to obtain mercy, forgiveness of our sins- by placing our sins on the Lamb of God who was sacrificed on the raised altar of Golgotha. We were cleansed by the blood and the water that came from His side. But now we have the privilege to enter the Throne Room of Heaven, the Holy of Holies  once was separated by the veil.

Let us look at the cherubim and understand their purpose as Scripture teaches us. Their first appearance is in Genesis 3:  23-24. “So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After He drove the man out, He placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.” God did this ,as He explained,  to keep mankind from eating of the Tree of Life and living forever.  What a calamity and tragedy it would be for fallen man to live forever in a fallen sinful state.   But angels are also used as messengers to proclaim the glory of God. So they are to protect us from God’s presence which we in our sinful state could not stand in and to proclaim God presence. They are both protectors and proclaimers.

One must be prepared to stand in God’s presence. Heaven is a prepared place for prepared people. Keep in mind, God does not change. And to enter into His presence is not only to enter into a place of intimacy, but also a place of revelation.  Both of these should be our goal, for the chief end of mankind is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Are you enjoying God’s presence in your life?  Or does the idea of going into His Presence bother you?

There will be those who never enter through the veil, for they have their hearts covered with a veil of unbelief.  Only the Lord Jesus can remove the veil when they turn to the Lord and believe His Word and trust the Lord Jesus. ( 2 Cor. 3)  But this veil that separated and protected those who could not stand in the presence of a Holy God was done away with in the Lord Jesus’ sacrifice.  “ Therefore, brother, since we have confidence to enter into the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain(veil) 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 in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. “ ( Hebrews 10)

What happened to Moses when he was exposed to the Glory of God? A change took place . It always does. Moses’ face was radiant after his encounter with God’s glory.( Exodus 33:29b) tells us:…’ he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.’ A change takes place in our lives when we have been in His presence. A change that we are not aware of- but others are aware of. Gina noticed this change in me first- she told others-‘I have a new husband.’   The light of His Glory of His Presence sheds light on the knowledge of God and His Word.  We now have received the Spirit of God that we might understand what God has given us. We can understand spiritual truths. Before we did not have the Holy Spirit, and the man without the Spirit cannot accept the things that come for the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him.( I Cor. 2)

But the light of God’s presence also does something else. The light exposes our sins. The Word of God is alive and powerful and is now compared to a two-edged sword that divides asunder the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  The more clearly we see Him, the more clearly we see ourselves and say woe is me.  Peter said depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man. Paul referred to himself often as ‘chief among sinners’ because the closer he came to the light, the more it exposed his sinfulness.

Behind the veil- it is a place of wonderful intimacy. But be prepared it is a place of humility for that is one of the aspects of true intimacy- it breeds true humility.

So Christ took away the veil and made a new way to enter into the Holy of Holies through His flesh.

However, the veil of unbelief continues to blind those who have not turned to Christ for only in Him is the veil taken away. So when even unto this day, when they read Moses the veil of unbelief is on their hearts, their minds are blinded to the truth.  Jesus in the parable of Luke 16 said- if they do not believe Moses , they will  not believe me.  They read the account of creation and their minds are blinded,  this is foolishness to them for anyone to believe God created something out of nothing.

“ Now the Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all,with open  face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” ( 2 Cor.3: 17, 18 KJV)

How do we become transformed to be like Jesus? Very simply, as we stand face-to-face looking into the glory of Jesus Christ, we shall be changed into His image. This is  what these verses in 2 Corinthians 3 tell us. As we fix our eyes on Him, guess what?  We take our eyes off of ourselves and the Spirit of God begins to change us, to transform us, to conform us to the image of the Son of God. This is the power of the Word of God!

*The Word of God tells us if you stand with your face in the Word of God- learning and beholding the glory of God, the Spirit of God will transform you into the image of the Lord Jesus. The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to make us like the Son of God. He uses the Sword of the Word to circumcise the flesh from our heart so that we might love the Lord with all our heart.

James warns us- do not merely listen to the Word of God and so deceive yourselves. Do what is says- obey it. James says anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what is says, is like the man who looks in the mirror  and looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. (James 1) You must obey the Word of God for it to have its transforming affect.

And guess what?  The glory you receive from being in God’s presence and experiencing this most precious intimacy can fade as we fail to come into His glory on a regular basis. This is why spending quality time in Bible study is a must.  Study to show yourselves approved. Obey the Word as the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to make us like the Son of God. This is truly a miracle of transformation.

I believe we do not fully understand the glory of God.  But the writers of the Westminster Catechism asked this rhetorical question: What is the chief end of man?  That is to say- why was man created and why does man exist?  Their answer:  To glorify God and enjoy Him forever. I submit to you – the only way to enjoy God forever, beginning now on this earth is to glorify Him , for this is the reason we were created and exist.

Adam and Eve were the first to behold the glory of God as they walked with Him and talked with Him in the Garden of Eden while they were  without sin. Next the Glory of God appeared on the mountaintop to Moses. And after the Tabernacle was completed it was His Glory that filled the Holy of Holies. When Solomon’s temple was completed His Glory filled the temple.

Then the Glory departed. It was not glimpsed again until the Word who was God became flesh and dwelt among us. And John says in the Lord Jesus we have seen His Glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father.  And Jesus told Phillip – ‘anyone who has seen me, has seen the Father. (John14)

One day in the future, the Lord Jesus is coming again and once again we will behold His Glory. Until then – we can enter into the Holy of Holies , for the veil has been removed and we can spend time in His Presence and behold His glory.l

Remember what is woven into the veil?  Cherubim.  What do these angelic creatures do? Protect and proclaim. Listen to this proclamation from the seraphim in Isaiah 6:3: “ Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts: the whole earth is full of His Glory.” God possesses glory by the very virtue of who He is.

So let us step now behind the curtain of this tabernacle and look at the place where the glory of God appeared all those centuries ago. The Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle, this tent in the wilderness was small. It measured 10’ by 10’ by 10’. The only thing in there was the ark of the covenant.

One cannot help but wonder – why did God choose such an ordinary small place to dwell among His people?  Why was this place of intimacy so common- a tent of all things sitting on the ground?!

Because of all the places God could dwell, He has chosen to dwell in me. This  earthen vessel, this jar of clay that is our bodies, now contains the treasure of God Almighty indwelling each believer.   What did Paul tell us?  “ Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Cor.3)

Paul also tells us we dwell in earthly tents.  “ Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed  with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling so that the mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” (2 Cor. 5)

Did you get that? God has made us for the purpose of indwelling us.

We know these tents we live in are temporary, just as the tent God first dwelled in the wilderness was temporary.  But we know what awaits us is eternal, even though now we cannot see it. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is  eternal.  This is why we are told we must live by faith and not by sight.

So how do we glimpse His glory?  How do we experience this intimacy in what was once a 10X10X 10 tent on this earth?

Our Holy of Holies has four sides also. It is right here with us at ground level. Step inside and you will see the Lord Jesus from all four sides of this Holy Place.

See look there- He is King. Turn to the next side- Our King is a Servant.  Wait – look at this side Our Servant King is the Son of Man, God clothed in flesh. And finally look at the fourth side- He is God.   Where in the world am I seeing this four sided view of God?

In Matthew- He is King.

In Mark – He is Servant.

In Luke- He is Son of Man.

In John- He is the Word, who was with God, He is the Word, Who is God.

Every day, we have as a privilege to enter this Holy of Holies as the Royal Priesthood. For it is in His Word, in the Four Gospels, the study of the Lord Jesus’ life on this earth that we behold His Glory, the One and Only come from the Father full of grace and truth.

This is the Gospel, the four books God has chosen to present the Lord Jesus, God in Flesh.

Paul said: “ I am a servant of the Gospel.” The Gospel tells us of the unsearchable riches of Christ. This Gospel tells us of the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. In the Gospel, God wants us to grasp this love  and how wide and long and high and deep it is. For these four dimensions describe a love that knows no bounds, is everlasting, sacrificial and unconditional.

Is it so amazing that we can walk with Him and talk with Him, just as surely as Adam and Eve did in the Garden. We can enter into the Holy of Holies, the throne room of heaven. We can glimpse His glory in the pages of this Book, called the Word of God. It is life giving, life changing and life sustaining. Read it to be wise. Believe it to be saved. Practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you.

This word of God creates faith and produces change. It frightens the devil, causes miracles and heals hurt. Obey it and it will develop character and most amazing the Spirit of God will use the Word of God to make us like the Son of God.

The High Priest entered the Holy of Holies only once a year. We are encouraged to enter the throne room of heaven boldly with confidence. We can enter daily.  Do you believe this?

This is what is showing us- He wants to be in our life. He wants to share His life with us. He wants to be our life.

So here is what you can do- starting now:

You can make it your custom to enter the throne room of heaven, the holy of holies every day.

I suggest and the Bible tells us to seek Him early.

This hymn tells us what awaits us.

“ I come to the garden alone,

While the dew is still on the rose.

And the voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me and He talks with me

And He tells me I am His own.

And the Joy we share as we tarry there – none other has ever known.

If you are saved, God has deposited His Spirit in you. He has chosen our hearts as His Home. It is temporary, for our permanent home is being prepared. Jesus said He was going to prepare a place of us- so that where He was we would be with Him also.   But He said He would not leave us alone- but would in the person of the Holy Spirit abide with us.

“ If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him. All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you all things, and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 15)

Do you know why we have the privilege to see the glory of God?  Because Jesus asked His Father for us to see His glory.

“ Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you love me before the creation of the world.” ( John 17)

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, express in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” ( Ephesians 2:6)


Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14