Access to God's Presence
Come with me to the Oval Office, the most powerful place in the world. The year is 1962. Men in gray suits solemnly circulate around the room. Polite knocks at the door, and more enter.
They’ve earned their right to be here through decades of distinguished civil service. They revel in their right to approach the president: “Mr. President” ... “Sir.”
Suddenly the door to the Oval Office bursts open, and a happy little boy toddles in. “Daddy, Daddy!” Nobody seems shocked or offended. Obviously this has happened before. President John F. Kennedy grins delightedly as his little son, who bears his name, jumps onto his lap. The business of the world pauses as father and son exchange kisses and embraces. Then John John jumps on the carpet and crawls under the desk to play. The business of the world resumes.
Meeting God in Heaven’s Sanctuary
As sons and daughters of God, all of us enjoy unlimited access to God through Jesus. As our high priest, He ministers as our representative in heaven’s sanctuary, “ever living to make intercession for us” (Heb. 7:25).
Back in Old Testament times, one man had access to the inner sanctuary, the Most Holy Place — earth’s Oval Office, if you please. He was the high priest, and he had that access just once a year on the Day of Atonement. He came in trembling, lest his own sin cause him to be struck dead.
It’s so different for us: “We who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary” (Heb. 6:18–19).
Remember ancient Esther, who interceded with the Persian king on behalf of her fellow Jews when they were facing genocide. She courageously approached the throne at the risk of her own life. The king extended to Esther his golden scepter, with the ultimate result of her people being saved.
For us, God’s golden scepter was extended to us through Jesus, our representative, after His Resurrection. Now in Christ we may approach our heavenly Father for salvation and other favors as confidently and affectionately as John John entering the Oval Office.
And so we flee — not from God, but from the ravages of a troubled world — not in fear but in anticipation of mercy and help in time of need. Having fled to God in His sanctuary, we don’t have to flee from life anymore. We don’t need those pesky addictions for escape anymore.
Somebody may be saying, “I don’t need Jesus in heaven’s sanctuary. I just want Him in my heart.”
Actually, the sanctuary is all about Jesus and how He connects and interacts with our hearts and minds. It provides a foundation for organized religion we can trust. It makes sense out of praying in the name of Jesus. It makes us crave God’s presence because of His throne of grace.
Benefits From Christ’s Intercession
God blesses His people from heaven’s sanctuary, bestowing upon us benefits including but not limited to:
- Opportunity for confession;
- Opportunity for worship;
- God’s companionship;
- Fellowship with other believers;
- Purpose in life;
- Spiritual gifting for ministry;
- Comfort for our fears;
- Correction for our stupidities;
- Healing spiritually, emotionally, physically;
- Museum of lives transformed and healed;
- Education about God, life and ourselves;
- Angelic protection;
- Victory over the devil;
- Vindication in the judgment;
- Insight into the history of good and evil;
- Insight into the resolution of evil;
- Insight into the future of this world;
- Shalom (peace and well-being) here and now;
- Social justice for the world;
- Solution for pollution and climate change.
If I can say this reverently, God’s sanctuary is a resource center exceeding the grandeur of New York’s exclusive Fifth Avenue shops, the round-the-clock variety of your local Wal-Mart Supercenter, and the inclusive acceptance and unlimited consumption offered without charge at an inner-city soup kitchen. Heaven’s sanctuary is our one-stop shopping mall for whatever we need in this life and eternally. And everything comes to us through Jesus, our representative before God.
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:14–16).