Then the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. [Mark 15:38 NKJV]
At the moment of Christ’s death, God Himself entered the Temple and ripped the curtain separating the Holy of Holies from the people. It was torn as recorded in all the gospels from top to bottom, indicating this was not the work of conspiracy which would tear from bottom to top because of the nature of the curtain.
God rent the curtain and at that moment declared a New Covenant.
So why are we so determined to repair the curtain? Many ministers I’ve heard declare God to be a Holy God – which He is. They declare Him to be omnipotent – which He is.
They declare Him to be unapproachable. They missed something in that declaration.
“ No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you” [John 15:15 NKJV]
All things made known to us. Initially in person of Jesus Himself, then through the Holy Spirit. Christ came to us in a form where we could relate to Him as a human being and develop the kind of relationship with Him we were supposed, no designed to have with Him through Adam.
God, through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, speaks to us. He enters our hearts as far as we will let Him in and He meets us where we are. The Holy of Holies is now the human heart. Anyone prepared to open themselves to Him becomes the Temple itself and God moves in with as much luggage as we allow Him to. The big difference is His luggage consists entirely of gifts for us.
Think about God’s primary motivation. Everyone knows John 3:16, but how many of us look beyond into the next few verses?
“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” [John 3:17-21 NKJV]
We spend so much time on the sixteenth verse we miss the power of the context. Not to condemn us – something too many churches do. An invitation to leave darkness and enter into His Light. It is clear that the condemnation we feel is not from God. God convicts us of righteousness. Satan is the accuser who will make us condemn ourselves.
We believe the lie that we can’t return home. We’re not deserving of forgiveness. Every agreement in that vein begins to stitch up the curtain and separate us from Jesus and His Love.
It’s a common theme in other religions. My wife’s best friend is a muslim and in order for him to be able to pray he has to use a special cloth to wash himself in a specific order to be able to present himself before Allah to worship and pray so he is worthy.
I pray in the bath because it’s comfortable and nobody disturbs me. I don’t have to bow to the east to pray. Whilst I’d love to visit Jerusalem, Galilee, Nazareth and the Holy Land in general I won’t get a better spot in Heaven if I do.
The major denominations in general – there are individual churches within them who don’t do this – tend to be curtain repair men. I grew up in an Anglican church where I served first as a chorister then when my voice broke I became a “server”, the equivalent of an altar-boy I guess. I remember being drilled repeatedly week after week for lighting the altar candles in the wrong order. I didn’t get it. Under my alb I was usually in shorts in the summer, jeans in the winter. I got corrected if the knot on my belt was wrong. It had to sit in a certain position. When I became Crucifer, the individual who carried the heavy brass cross in the ritual I would have to be certain the cross was perfectly straight and at the right height relative to my size. The rules and regulations I realise now some 30 years later were busy repairing the curtain. I was permitted to cross into the area behind the altar-rail, something nobody who wasn’t the “right” person was allowed to do.
Those examples seem negative, but my spiritual foundation was laid there, and much of what I write is a direct result of what I learned about God from the years I spent at that church as my faith grew. I didn’t agree with some of it, and wasn’t afraid at the age of 14 to challenge the minister over matters of theology. I respected John very much and I learned a great deal from him about what Jesus was about. It was an intellectual foundation that has allowed me to build a heart-based faith with a rock solid foundation under it that has helped me through more crises in the last 30 years than I can begin to express.
But I was still a curtain repair man.
Moving away from home and joining charismatic churches gave me a very different experience. The notion of intimate relationship became important. The orthodox teaching I had sat under allowed me to recognise the essential nature of the outward focus while my personal time focussed – and still does – of developing a relationship both emotional and intellectual with my Friend, Jesus. It allows me to sit alone and have a conversational style prayer with Him. Aloud if I’m completely alone. My work has isolated me from many of my friends, and my personal life outside work involves a lot of time consuming work to help my family with assorted illnesses recently so church on a Sunday has fallen away. I get fellowship where I can find it, and God always brings exactly the right person at precisely the moment I need across my path to keep me accountable.
It stops me repairing the curtain.
Don’t get me wrong. God is a Holy God. We need to respect that, but He’s our Daddy too. Watching children play and just hurl themselves into their daddy’s arms knowing he’ll catch them is beautiful God wants that for us. An intimacy of trust.
So quit repairing your curtain. Let the light in and wash the shadows away.
What’s to lose? Let Him in so you can receive healing in every area.
Your heart is now the Holy of Holies. Guard it with His Spirit.