“We have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:19).
One of the great mysteries in the Old Testament was the meaning of the worship tent used by Israel called the “tabernacle.” The mystery was hinted at but not clear. When the people of Israel came out of Egypt and arrived at Mount Sinai, God gave detailed instructions to Moses about how to build this mobile tent of worship with all its parts and furnishings. The mysterious thing about it was this command: “See that you make them after the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain” (Exodus 25:40).
When Christ came into the world 1,400 years later, it was more fully revealed that this “pattern” for the old tabernacle was a “copy” or a “shadow” of realities in heaven. The tabernacle was an earthly figure of a heavenly reality. So in the New Testament we read this: “[The priests] serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, ‘See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain’” (Hebrews 8:5).
So all the worship practices of Israel in the Old Testament point toward something more real. Just as there were holy rooms in the tabernacle, where the priest repeatedly took the blood of the animal sacrifices and met with God, so there are infinitely superior “holy places,” as it were, in heaven, where Christ entered with his own blood, not repeatedly, but once for all.
When Christ appeared as a high priest . . . through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:11-12)
The implication of this for us is that the way is now opened for us to go with Christ into all the holiest places of God’s presence. Formerly only the Jewish priests could go into the “copy” and “shadow” of these places. Only the high priest could go once a year into the most holy place where the glory of God appeared (Hebrews 9:7). There was a forbidding curtain protecting the place of glory. The Bible tells us that when Christ breathed his last on the cross, “the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split” (Matthew 27:51).
What did that mean? The interpretation is given in these words: “We have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh” (Hebrews 10:19-20). Without Christ the holiness of God had to be protected from us. He would have been dishonored, and we would have been con- sumed because of our sin. But now, because of Christ, we may come near and feast our hearts on the fullness of the flaming beauty of God’s holiness. He will not be dishonored . We will not be consumed. Because of the all-protecting Christ, God will be honored, and we will stand in everlasting awe. Therefore, do not fear to come. But come through Christ.
*This is taken from John Piper’s book “The Passion of Jesus Christ,” which was later released under the name “50 Reasons Jesus Came to Die.” Please visit Desiring God’s Website for more gospel-centered resources from John Piper. You can also download a free PDF of “50 Reasons Jesus Came to Die” here.