The Tent in Heaven
1The first promise included rules for worship and a tent for worship here on earth. 2 The first part of the tent was called the holy place, and a lampstand, a table, and the sacred loaves of bread were kept there.
3 Behind the curtain was the most holy place. 4 The gold altar for burning incense was in this holy place. The gold-covered sacred chest was also there, and inside it were three things. First, there was a gold jar filled with manna. Then there was Aaron's walking stick that sprouted. Finally, there were the flat stones with the Ten Commandments written on them. 5 On top of the chest were the glorious creatures with wings opened out above the place of mercy.
Now isn't the time to go into detail about these things. 6 But this is how everything was when the priests went each day into the first part of the tent to do their duties. 7 However, only the high priest could go into the second part of the tent, and he went in only once a year. Each time he carried blood to offer for his sins and for any sins that the people had committed without meaning to.
8All of this is the Holy Spirit's way of saying no one could enter the most holy place while the tent was still the place of worship. 9This also has a meaning for today. It shows we cannot make our consciences clear by offering gifts and sacrifices. 10These rules are merely about such things as eating and drinking and ceremonies for washing ourselves. And rules about physical things will last only until the time comes to change them for something better.
I simply love photos of beautiful landscapes. A beautiful landscape picture draws me. I want to be there. And a stunning photograph is the next best thing to being there. But make no mistake; a photograph of Lake Louise is a poor substitute for actually being present to behold the Rocky Mountain grandeur of Lake Louise.
A still photo can never fully capture the awesome power of Niagara Falls. You need to be there to hear the water roar and feel the mist on your face. To truly know a landscape, you need more than a photograph. You need to experience it. A photo no matter how accurate is a mere shadow of the reality it depicts.
In today’s reading, the writer of Hebrews describes the furnishings of the sacred tent – the tabernacle of the old covenant. There is a spiritual significance to each item he describes. But the objective of true worship is to bring the worshipper to the holy place, yet the rules of the old covenant shut us out (v 8). And we cannot make our consciences clear by offering gifts and sacrifices (v 9). Something better is needed than rules and ceremonies (v 10).
Christ is the One who brings us into that better experience. With him and through him we gain access to the holy place – that heavenly landscape that is freely available for those who know him. He gives us more than a snapshot. Jesus has come to change our clouded picture of God into a distinct reality – a reality we live and experience.
Lord Jesus, I want more than a vague picture of you. I want to experience your presence in my life, not by a set of rules, but by your grace. Guide my steps so I can see you at work in my life today. I pray in your name, Amen.