I’m cheating this week.
I know I’m only supposed to pick one verse, but I can’t, because so many tie together into this beautiful thing I can’t get out of my head. And that thing is… God is close. Closer than we think. I wonder if we really GET how close He is and how much closer He wants to be to us?
Two things from this week’s readings…
Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim woven into it by a skilled worker… and place the ark of the covenant law behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. (Exodus 26: 31, 33b, NIV)
Right here is the first mention of a separation in the Tabernacle, a difference between the Holy and the Most Holy, the place where God is worshiped and the place where God IS. Because of sin and the need for sacrifice and atonement, God could not dwell freely among His people. To do so would be to insure their certain death because their sin was no match for His holiness. So He held Himself close, but apart. In their midst, but separate. To be near them, yet to protect them.
Yet, just two chapters prior to this, we find this wonderful and amazaing and beautiful moment…
Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank. (Exodus 24: 9-11, NIV, emphasis mine)
These verses literally make me catch my breath. God… ALMIGHTY GOD, Yahweh, the Great I AM… They actually saw Him. They actually looked at Him. And then they sat down and ate and drank in His very presence. Seriously, it makes my heart skip a beat. To see God and live. To see God. It’s not clear how much of Him they saw, but it was enough to defy description. The best they could give us was what was under His feet. But they drew nearer than most men had since the Garden. That kind of encounter has to change your life.
From standing right in front of Him to being separated by a veil. Wow. God had to hold Himself apart from us. Can you imagine having to only interact with the people you love most in your life through a curtain? Through an intermediary? To never see them face to face? I think sin tore at God’s heart… still tears at His heart. Because many years later, this happened…
At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. (Matt. 27:51a, NIV)
Out of the whole Bible, this may very well be my favorite verse. At the moment Jesus gave His last breath for us, God reached down from heaven and tore that veil right in two. No more separation. No more worship in one place while God is right next door. Because of Jesus, God is among us again. Because of Jesus, we get the Revelation 21 promise that God is and always will be among us, someday even closer than He is right now. When He will live with us and walk among us.
Do you get this? God literally could not wait to be among His people again. The very instant Jesus breathed His last, God tore the veil. It’s like His hand was already on it, just waiting in a moment of divine grief and joy.
How can we deny His love? Our hero, the One who loves us more than any other, sacrificed Himself so that we could have free access, so that sin could be destroyed, so that a broken people could dwell in the very presence of a holy God. So the veil could be torn.
How close is He? Closer than our very own breath. Closer than we can ever imagine. Because He chooses to be.
We are reading the Bible chronologically this year, using the plan you can find here. I love reading the Bible all the way through. Each time, God shows me something I never saw before or that I didn’t pay very much attention to before. I pray this is happening for you as well and that you’ll share with us! If you didn’t start from the beginning, you can jump in any time or comment on any post!
This week’s readings:
Monday: Exodus 30-32 29.
Tuesday: Exodus 33-35 30.
Wednesday: Exodus 36-38 31.
Thursday: Exodus 39-40 32.
Friday: Leviticus 1-4 33.
Sunday: Leviticus 8-10