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A pocket guide to visiting God.

April 2017

Hebrews 10:19-22 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,  by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a 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.*

Even when the Obama’s visited Buckingham Palace they still needed to be aware of the correct protocol for entering the presence of the Queen. There is a correct way to behave. There is a right way of addressing her, a correct way of behaving even when you eat in her presence. Apparently Lewis Hamilton received a gentle reminder from the Queen at a royal dinner. He was sitting at her left and started speaking to her during the first course of the meal. The Queen had to explain to him that she speaks to the guest of honour on her right hand side during the first course! If there is a protocol to be followed when visiting the Queen we should not be surprised that there is a protocol to visiting God and entering his presence.

These verses provide a pocket guide to visiting God. They are not the full guide (that runs to 66 volumes!) but they are a handy pocket guide. This pocket guide has four sections.

1. Use the new road!

I can remember travelling from the Midlands to Sussex. This used to involve a journey straight through London using the Blackwall tunnel. The opening of the M25 made a massive difference to that journey!

This is a real road which has been personally opened by Jesus and dedicated to God. God’s blessing is on it and all who use it! It could be called “High Priest way.’ Jesus is the road maker and the actual road itself: ‘I am the way’ he said or you could put it ‘I am the road!’ He is the only road to visit God on. He is the road that leads to life. We used to walk on our own roads (Acts 14:16) but now we can use the new road.

Interestingly this was such an important idea for the early Christians that they became known as the people of the road! The road people! (Acts 9:2, 19:9,23)

We are privileged not just to read the plans about the new road but to actually live when it is open and ready for us to use!

2. Respect the curtain!

When tourists visit some countries they are shown evidence of the conflict through which the people passed to become a separate state. In the UK we have a special day set aside to show respect to those who gave their lives in the 1st world war.  This road goes through a curtain or veil. This was a very thick arrangement of curtains made up of multiple layers. It marked the entrance to the holy of holies, the most sacred part of the ancient temple. It was this curtain that was torn by the hands of God at the moment of Jesus’ death. All three synoptic gospels emphasize this. Here, this torn veil is used as  an analogy of Jesus’ body. On one side is God’s immediate presence, on the other side are needy sinners.  At his death when Christ’s body is torn this road through the curtain is opened! Jesus’ body is like that curtain, torn so that sinners can approach God’s immediate presence safely.

3. Have the right attitude at the entrance!

This is the most awesome entrance. We are entering into the presence of God. In some great houses there is a checkpoint at the gate, there may be an intercom system or even armed guards. Here there are top rank angels! We are not fellow angels. We are not heads of state of an equivalent standing – we are sinners! When the prodigal came home he was understandably nervous. But here we are told we can approach with ‘boldness’.  One translation put it that we are ‘authorized for entrance’.

This language is used regularly in the new testament and this is a striking difference to the old testament. Originally it was a word used regarding someone who had the right to speak in the parliament. The finished work of Christ means that we can have confidence before God even with regards to the day of Judgement. This is something that the writer says we must not lose sight of (Hebrews 10:35). I remember an occasion when a child became suddenly very ill. The father of the child drove as fast as he could (in a very fast sports car) to hospital. He was breaking the speed limit by a long way. A police car noticed the speeding sports car and tried to stop it. The mother of the child signalled to the policeman that they were trying to get their child to hospital. Suddenly the whole situation changed. Instead of pursuing the sports car the police car went in front giving an escort with a flashing blue light.

We have an escort into God’s presence. His presence transforms everything! Often in ancient courts there was some token required for a visitor to gain entrance, a special signet ring, a special stone or an official pass. Here our boldness is the blood representing the sacrifice of Jesus. We have boldness because of the blood of the High Priest!

Full assurance of faith

In Col 2:2 this full assurance is concerned with knowing God through Jesus Christ, being fully convinced of the reality that Jesus Christ provides access to God for us. It is often associated with the powerful presence of God the Holy Spirit giving a full conviction of the reality and personal application of salvation to God. It is like seeing a ‘paid in full’ stamp signed by God himself on the record of a huge debt.

4. Come home to God!

This road is the driveway to God’s home. In Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ Elizabeth is emboldened to enter Mr Darcy’s home believing him to be absent! We are emboldened to enter knowing that God is at home! We are to have a personal meeting with him. We are coming right to the throne of God knowing that because of Jesus it is a place of mercy and grace just when we need it. This is the heart of real Christianity. This meeting with God is the focus of this letter. This is how we are to know joy and encouragement in our Christian lives. Again and again the writer of Hebrews emphasises the importance of this:

Heb 7:25  Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.*

Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.*

Heb 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem.*

Considering all that has been done over such a period of time to build this road, it would be a tragedy if we did not actually use it. My mum had a magic carpet. She used to take my daughters all over the world on it…but it was all in their imagination. Sevelyn Gat in Kenya caused a social media sensation when she (rather obviously) added a picture of herself onto other people’s holiday photographs. She thought that adding herself to a picture would be the closest she would ever get to the great wall of China and a holiday flight across the world. The pictures ‘went viral’ and a young entrepreneur decided that intervening would provide good advertising. She was actually given a holiday in China. She was actually able to visit the great wall of China. That was so much better than just making up a picture.

Jesus himself authorizes us to use this road to God’s home. He has paid for the journey in full. It would be the greatest tragedy of our life to miss this journey.

Keep on drawing near…keep on coming to God!

*The New King James Version. (1982). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.