FFF 11:4 (Apr 1965)
Brought In By That Which Shut Us Out
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh; and having an High Priest over the House of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb. 10:19-22).
The first recorded sin of man against man is the slaying of Abel by his brother. Cain murdered Abel because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. The Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel thy brother?” He answered, “I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?” The Lord said, “What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto Me from the ground.”
The blood of Abel has cried to God from the ground ever since, and in an ever swelling chorus there has joined with it the blood of myriads on myraids of innocents slain down through the ages by evil men. Castigating the scribes and pharisees, our Lord Jesus Christ said: “Behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them shall kill and crucify; and some shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city, that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar” (Matt. 23:34-35). That cry of innocent blood sounds through the courts of Heaven in the Apocalypse, as the Lamb opens the fifth seal. “And when He had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held: and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Rev. 6:9-11).
But that cry of blood is not alone of those whose lives have been violently taken away, but of all who have been wronged by their fellow man. Such a cry rose to the ear of the Lord from Sodom and Gomorrah. James speaks of it in addressing rich oppressors (5:1, 4): “Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you… Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.”
The blood of Abel and of all wronged by their fellow men makes us all fugitives and vagabonds in the earth, shutting the door of Heaven in our faces, for Romans three declares: “There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God… there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways—” (3:10-16). The cry of the blood, for the life of the flesh is in the blood, witnesses to our unfitness for the presence of a holy God on the score of our evil works. And should it be pleaded that there might be found some provocation to occasion all this evil, be it remembered men hated Jesus Christ without a cause, and by wicked hands crucified and slew Him…
In order that the Lord might dwell among His people Israel, He gave Moses precise, detailed instructions for the erection of a tabernacle. The innermost part of this tabernacle was the holiest, or holy of holies, wherein stood the ark of the covenant, on top of which was the mercy seat overshadowed by the cherubim of glory. That mercy seat was the spot where the Lord dwelt with Israel, appearing in a cloud upon the mercy seat. A heavy veil of blue and purple and scarlet and fine-twined linen, with cherubim artistically woven into it, stood between the holy of holies and the holy place.
No stranger dare approach that tabernacle. The Israelites could come to the tabernacle with their sacrifices and offerings. The Levites served according to their allotted tasks inside the tent of meeting — the court—of the tabernacle. Only the priests, sons of Aaron, could go into the holy place. And only the high priest could venture inside the veil into the holy of holies, and that but on one day in the year, the Day of Atonement, when he entered with blood according to a manner established by the Lord’s word, which he must observe in minute detail lest he die.
That veil pictured the absolute perfections of our Lord Jesus Christ, God manifest in flesh, who did no sin, who knew no sin, in whom was no sin. Only such absolute purity, such unalloyed holiness, was fit for the presence of a holy God. So that veil stood as a barrier between God and man, for there was none righteous, no, not one. That was but a worldly sanctuary, a material, temporal one, set up to typify the unseen, real and eternal presence of God. Yet into this typical holy of holies none but Aaron and his successor high priests could enter, and that only with blood that confessed their personal unfitness; and that only on the prescribed Day of Atonement.
And even as the veil in the tabernacle in Israel shut man out from God’s presence, so the perfect life of our Lord Jesus Christ while on earth as Man declared the unfitness of all other men to approach to God. He alone fulfilled the law in every jot and tittle. He was God’s standard of righteousness. Paul at Athens declared that God has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man. In raising Him from the dead He has given proof of that (Acts 17:3). All men are to be judged by comparison with His perfection. That perfect life, typified by the veil, shuts us out from God…
But not only the blood that witnesses to the evil of our relationships with our fellow man, not only the veil that declares us to have come short of the glory of God, but the very high priest ordained to approach God on man’s behalf evidenced that we had no right of approach in ourselves. The singling out of Aaron and his sons for the priesthood, the setting apart of the Levites for the service of God, and the choosing of Israel as a people apart from all nations of the earth for Himself, all stood as barriers between God and us, for we were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). And even for Israel the fact that into the holiest went “the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people,” signified that the way into the holiest was not yet opened (Heb. 9:7-8). The provision for the high priest to enter in itself shut all other men out. Fire from the Lord consumed 250 princes led by Korah, a Levite, when they offered incense before the Lord. King Uzziah died a leper for intruding into the priesthood. But now these very things that barred us from God’s holy presence: the blood, the veil, the High Priest; bid us draw near.
That precious blood speaks better things than that of Abel which cried for vengeance. It stands not as a witness against us, although the shedding of that blood put the capstone on man’s edifice of evil; it stands as a witness for us, for “The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” We who were afar off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
As to the veil, depicting the perfect life lived by the Lord Jesus Christ as a Man in the body on earth, which barred the way into the holiest; that veil was rent in two from the top to the bottom when Jesus Christ, bearing our sins in His own body on the tree, cried with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit. He who knew no sin was made sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. 5:21). And all His acceptability before God, who from Heaven testified concerning Him, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased;” all that acceptability was put to our account, for we now are “accepted in the Beloved.”
What then of the high priest? If into the holiest of the typical tabernacle only he could enter, and that but once a year, would not the very presence of the anti-typical High Priest in the true tabernacle in Heaven itself, at the throne of the Majesty, proclaim the unfitness of any other person to be there? No. On the contrary, it is His presence there that affirms our right to enter, that bids us draw near. The blood of Jesus declares us cleansed and fit for God’s holy presence. The rent veil opens the way for our entrance, and the High Priest is there to assure us of a welcome when we approach. “For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15-16). He is there as High Priest by virtue of His one sacrifice for sin, perpetually seated, appearing in the presence of God for us. And we by virtue of His work and His presence can approach into the holiest and as priests offer acceptable sacrifices.
“The sacrifice is o’er, the veil is rent in twain,
The mercy seat is red with blood of Victim slain.
Why stand we then without in fear?
The blood of Christ invites us near.
“The gate is open wide; the new and living way
Is clear, and free, and bright, with love, and peace, and day.
Into the holiest we come,
Our present and our endless home.”