Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. May not copy or download more than 500 consecutive verses of the ESV Bible or more than one half of any book of the ESV Bible.
Fact About Christ from page 14: Christ’s flesh is demonstrated by the veil of the tabernacle
We have confidence to enter the holy places… through the curtain, that is through his flesh– Hebrews 10:19-20
In this third picture of Christ related to the tabernacle, we once again come to the topic of fellowship with God. As the true tabernacle, Christ is God dwelling among men. As the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant, where the blood for atonement is sprinkled, Christ is the seat of God’s mercy, the only ground where God’s righteousness and mercy could meet. Lastly, we come to the inner veil of the tabernacle, to see another aspect of fellowship between man and God.
And you shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. It shall be made with cherubim skillfully worked into it. And you shall hang it on four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold, with hooks of gold, on four bases of silver. And you shall hang the veil from the clasps, and bring the ark of the testimony in there within the veil. And the veil shall separate for you the Holy Place from the Most Holy.– Exodus 26:31-33
The tabernacle has three main sections. The outer court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies. The bronze altar, where the sacrifices are made, lies in the outer court. The Holy Place contains the showbread table, the golden lampstand, and the incense altar. Lastly, the Holy of Holies holds the ark of the covenant, and is where God appears to the high priest on the Day of Atonement. Between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies is a curtain, the veil to separate the two sections. Like the rest of the tabernacle’s curtains, this veil is made of blue, purple, scarlet yarn and fine twisted linen, with cherubim skillfully worked into it. It is supported by four acacia wood poles overlaid with gold, which rest in silver sockets, and hung by golden hooks.
In performing the rites of the tabernacle, the priests must daily go into the holy place. Yet, the Holy of Holies is only entered once a year, on the Day of Atonement, and is reserved for the high priest alone. In the first tabernacle article, I mentioned how the tabernacle is a sanctuary that allows God to dwell among His people. In the previous article, we saw a picture of fellowship between God and man―the high priest, after sprinkling blood on the mercy seat, in the presence of the glory of God in the cloud of incense. But when it comes to the heart of God to be among His people and in full fellowship with them, don’t you still feel unsatisfied? One man, once a year. Why? Because there is a veil.
What does the New Testament say about it?
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,– Hebrews 10:19-20
What was limiting the ancient Israelites from that constant fellowship with God? The veil. The flesh of Christ. In this picture, sin and the law are not the problem. The blood of the offerings sprinkled on the mercy seat are a provision for the stain of sin and the righteous requirement of the law. But despite those provisions being set in place, there is still a veil. The flesh of Christ is the limitation on our experience of God.
So what does this picture say about Christ?
Think about the disciples walking around with Jesus. They saw Him. They could touch Him. But when it came to really knowing who He was, having fellowship with Him, or being one with His work on earth, we can see there was a veil between them. Like the ancient Israelites, they couldn’t get all the way into the Holy of Holies. Even Peter, after making a marvelous declaration, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” ended up trying to dissuade Jesus from going to the cross and was rebuked by the Lord, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Matt 16:16, 23).
So what does this tell us? The flesh is a problem! For people to go all the way to God, to have nothing in between, there is only one way. The flesh needs to be crucified.
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.– Matthew 27:50-51
After the crucifixion of Jesus, the curtain of the temple is torn in two, from top to bottom. The veil to the Holy of Holies is removed. The way is now open! Today, the smallest believer can experience more of God than Peter did walking with Jesus. As Jesus said in Matthew 11:11, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
What does this mean for me as a Christian?
Know Him in Spirit
Because of the cross, because the curtain was torn, there is a new and living way for us to enter the holy places to fellowship with God. The grain of wheat has fallen into the earth and died, and has born much fruit (John 12:24). Only after Jesus’s resurrection was the Spirit breathed into the disciples (John 20:22).
To only examine the life of Jesus in the flesh is to see Him through a veil. Remember, the flesh of Jesus was a barrier between man and God. Paul writes in 2 Cor 5:16, “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.” We must seek to know Him in spirit.
Our Sinful Flesh
Furthermore, remember that in the picture the barrier is flesh, not sin or the law. Even after you’ve believed in Jesus and are reconciled to God through the blood shed on the cross, there is still something in your flesh that prevents you from constant fellowship with Him. Furthermore, our flesh is not exactly the same as the Lord’s flesh. Ours is a “sinful flesh” (Rom 8:3), while the Lord Jesus is holy, conceived of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:3). This is even more of a problem. The apostle Paul addresses our flesh most directly in Romans 7 and 8 and in the book of Galatians.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.– Romans 7:18
Our flesh is a result of sin dwelling in and corrupting our bodies. Its passions and desires are against the Spirit. I know the benefits of spending time in the Word in the morning, and I have personally experienced the benefits of having that morning time, and I really want to be consistent in spending that time with the Lord. Yet, no matter how long I’ve been a believer, there is still something in my flesh that makes it so hard to get up for that time. I need to crucify my flesh. This isn’t to say to mistreat your body, like the ascetics of old. Paul addresses this in Colossians 2:23, where he says that such things “are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.”
The Cross and the Holy Spirit
What then, is of value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh? The cross and the Holy Spirit. The cross has accomplished a spiritual fact, our crucifixion with Christ. Then, the Holy Spirit is accomplishing in us the subjective experience and reality of that crucifixion with Christ.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.– Gal 2:20, 5:16-17, 24
God desires for there to be full fellowship between Him and man. The way is open! We can know Him in spirit and allow His Holy Spirit to work out the subjective experience of our crucifixion with Him. This is the picture of the veil. The Lord on the cross to open the way and the cross on us that we could match Him. May the Lord strengthen us to walk not by the flesh, but by the Spirit, that we could take full advantage of this new and open way to be in fellowship with Him.
Have any inspirations or questions about the content of the article? Or do you just want to say hello and introduce yourself? We’d love to hear from all our readers! Leave a comment or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the title of this post in the subject line. If you are burning to engage with us, but don’t know what to say, here are some questions that could be a help:
- How is fellowship with God different now than in the times of the ancient Israelites? Or even with Jesus’s disciples when He walked on earth? Have you experienced this kind of intimate fellowship with God?
- The cross is God’s instrument for His daily work in us. What songs have brought you into a deeper appreciation for the cross?
- Sometimes the work of the Holy Spirit is slow and gradual, and sometimes it is large and quick. Have you had experiences of one or the other?