The Face Of God
After the fall, man was no longer equipped to look at the face of the Lord. In fact, man was instructed by God not to look at Him. When Moses requested God to show his Glory, God refused him.
“ ‘I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you,’” He told Moses. “’ and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence…But,’ he said, ‘you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.’” (Exodus 33: 19-20)
Instead, God hid Moses from his glorious Presence. “The LORD said, ‘There is a place near where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.’” (Exodus 33:21)
Even with God hiding Moses, His glory still rubbed off on Moses. The old man came down from the mountaintop carrying those tablets and his brothers were amazed.
They were “afraid to come near him.” (Exodus 34: 30)
For when he returned from being in God’s Presence, Moses was transformed.
He had become radiant.
The High Priests Of Jewish Culture
Only the Highest Priests of Jewish culture could even come close to the Spirit of God. The temple became more sacred as one grew nearer to the inner sanctuary. “The Holy Place” was God’s audience hall. Past the glowing lamp stands, the smoky incense and the curtain stood the “Most Holy Place, the throne room of the “Holy of Holies”.
On what we now know as “Good Friday“, in the passion of the Christ, the sky grew dark and Jesus cried out, “Father, why have you forsaken me!”
Why is this? God had to turn away from His son for he was taking on the sin of all mankind – past and future. The Old Testament is threaded with a ribbon of blood sacrifice from Genesis to Malachi, but it was never enough. Now, the “Lamb of God”, the very Son of God, hung on a tree and died so that sin could be eradicated forever.
When Jesus Christ, perished for the rebellion of mankind, he cried out “It is finished!”
The Curtain of the Temple is Torn Down
What happened next? “The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” (Mark 15:38; Luke 23: 45)
The tearing of the temple curtain is significant, both literally and figuratively.
Jesus had torn down the temple curtain through his sacrifice. All men and women were free to come to God and speak to God directly. If we believe, we can live in His radiance. We can look upon his face and the brightness would not strike us down.
The High Priest of yesteryear who for centuries needed to part the curtain in order to enter the sanctuary is no longer necessary. Jesus has torn away the curtain and has said, “Come and be with me.”
We Have Become The Temple
Through Jesus, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit. Not only is God not hidden from us, he indwells within us. By the New Covenant, He no longer must hide His face from us for we are made worthy by his blood. “Don’t you know that your yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? …God’s temple is sacred; and you are that temple.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
We often forget the seminal nature of the New Covenant: through his blood, Jesus has given us the opportunity to have a deep personal relationship with God. He is not far away. He is very near. Indeed, he indwells in us.
According to the physician Luke’s account in Acts, Paul the Apostle stood at the temple in Athens and proclaimed that God “does not live in temples built by human hands.” (Acts 18:24-26)
God lives in us.
“Therefore,” (Hebrews 4: 14-16) “since we have a great high priest who had gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
The Kingdom Of God Is Upon Us
The church has done many brilliant things: created the hospital system, the mental health system, care for the elderly. It has looked after the poor, the orphans and the widows for millenniums as Jesus has asked. I love the Church.
I love Jesus even more. I will put my faith in Jesus over infrastructures that are, unfortunately, too often times, compromised by men. Jesus never lied or never cut corners. Jesus noblized women; he celebrated childhood and the rights of children; he brought up the lowly and the weak.
Jesus is God incarnate and he has told all of us, through Scripture, that He is the way to the Father. He has given us permission to love him with absolutely nothing to keep us from Him. Nothing stands in our way from loving Him, except our prideful and rebellious selves. “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made light shine out in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)
Yes, he is the High Priest. We have been made worthy not only to see His face, but to know God through the Holy Spirit.