Who is it that you turn to in times of spiritual turmoil and distress?
Where do you look to find relief for your soul?
Who guides your conscience in times of difficult choices?
What or who is the object of your faith?
All these questions, and many others like them, come to the surface when our faith is being tested by whatever circumstances we happen to be facing. When we are pushed to the edge of the metaphorical ledge (by loss, grief, testing and trials of many diverse kinds), to whom do we turn?
As I've been blogging recently, we have been given free and bold access to the Most Holy Place; God's presence. This access has been granted to all who place their entire trust in what God has done through Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Lord, on the cross and through the tomb.
In former times there was a veil through which only the High Priest could pass, and that only one time each year...and he was required to offer up sacrifices for his own sins as well as for the sins of the people of Israel.
And yet, even though there was this instruction and command from God concerning access, all of this was a shadow of God's grace. Even during that time, did not David pray and commune directly to the Lord? Did not Lord meet with Abraham? Was not the righteousness that pleased God that which proceeded from the heart, by faith? Were not the Israelites repeatedly rebuked for carrying out the sacrifices while harboring evil in their hearts, and for being stiff-necked and rebellious...even as they were offering their sacrifices? Did not God instruct them that the sacrifices He desired were of a broken and contrite spirit?
Hebrews tells us that the real Tabernacle was the one which Moses saw, and was to make an exact copy of for the Isrealite people. He had to be careful to copy it exactly. He did so...that is why his record of the building of the Tabernacle seem so boring to read. God told him what to do...Moses did what God told him...and so Moses did, according to the instruction of the Lord.... It is just so repetitive, so that we might be able to see a small sample of the righteousness and holiness of our God, and the care which Moses took to obey all God had commanded.
But, Hebrews also tells us that because Jesus' sacrifice was more than sufficient to pay the penalty for our sin, and the faith God gives us to trust in Jesus' finished work upon the cross and through the resurrection from the grave, that we may boldly come before God Himself with our petitions and supplications.
The God of the Old Testament loved His people as a father loves his children. The God of the New Testament is the same God as the God of the Old Testament. Through Jesus, we are able to be adopted into His family, and to enjoy the privileges of being an heir, and a co-heir with Christ.
In the Old Testament times, most people seemed to believe that their access to God was only through the priest. Their faith seemed to be in their rote practices and in the prayers of the priest. It was those who obeyed by faith in what God promised, trusting in God (instead of in the prayers and actions of a priest) whom God counted as righteous.
Now, in the New Testament era, we are able to see more clearly the real Tabernacle of God. We come to realize that we are sinners by nature and by choice (two necessary witnesses). We come to understand that our sin has created an inestimable debt to God and that the debt is so great, there is no way we could ever repay it...and that we are not qualified to attempt to pay it because of our inherent unrighteousness. God helps us to see, through His Word and by His Spirit, that our situation is entirely hopeless and we are entirely helpless in our estate. Jesus described it as knowing that we are poor (poor in spirit).
But praise be to God, the Father of all mankind, He made a way for us to be reconciled to Himself, and for the entirety of our debt to be paid by One who would offer Himself as a perfect, holy and righteous substitute, by whose sacrifice of His life, our debt could be repaid.
The hitch? Our debt could only be paid by another human being...who was completely holy.
And so, the Word of God took on human flesh, dwelt among us, offered Himself up in our place, allowed Himself to be seen as acursed, allowed His flesh to be torn and His blood to be spilt (for without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin), and He who knew no unrightesousness died on the cross in our place, so that we who knew no righteousness might have His righteousness credited to our account.
Now, we can come directly to God, our Father, through the veil (which was Christ's body that was torn to allow us direct access to the Most Holy Place).
We get to come meet God face-to-face.
There is only One who is alone immortal, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, and righteous and holy, in His own self and by His own power and that is our God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). ALL our righteousness, and ALL the righteousness of any other person who has ever lived and ever will live, is a dependent righteousness. It is ENTIRELY dependent upon the righteousness God has imputed to us IN CHRIST JESUS.
There is no other person in all of history of whom this is not true; no prophet, priest or king...no mother or father of kin...no pastor, preacher, priestor angel...no bishop, cardinal, pope or saint...NO ONE ELSE. THERE IS NO OTHER NAME BY WHICH WE MUST BE SAVED, but only CHRIST ALONE.
When a person, who is not Christ Jesus, dies...that person does not take on the character, abilities and power of the Almighty God. None other is able to be present with every person, everywhere, at all times...ONLY GOD.
There is NONE that loves us as much as God, who has already demonstrated toward us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God sent the Son. He did not have to be coerced or persuaded into loving us. He did not need for any other person to appeal to Him on our behalf.
So, when I am being pressed on all sides, and my faith if being challenged and tested beyond what I believe myself able to endure, to whom will I turn?
Would it not make the most sense for me to turn to the One who loves me most? The only One who is with me at all times, even in my deepest distress? The only One who was qualified to trade His righteousness for my unrighteousness? The One, who by His own power, is able to present me to the Father as a pure and holy child? The One who is working to complete what He has begun in me, until it is brought to full completion on the day of His appearing?
Oh Lord, I pray that you would help us to place our faith utterly and completely in You. Thank you for giving us pastors and teachers who may assist us in gaining knowledge of You. Thank you for giving us examples of others who have trusted in You until the time when they were ushered into your very presence. Thank you for giving us Your Word (the Scriptures) by which your Spirit brings conviction and comfort into our lives. Thank you for giving us the faith to and for hearing us when we cry out to You.