Ephesians 2:17-18


Day 19

“And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.” Ephesians 2:17-18

Access to God
Because of the holiness of God and the sinfulness of people, we cannot approach God.  This theological truth can be observed in a variety of ways.  The Jewish temple in AD 30 communicated the reality of the limited access to the presence of God.  Visitors to Jerusalem were in awe of the magnitude of the temple complex, covering nearly a third of the entire city.  The largest portion of temple complex was open to just about everyone, both Jews and Gentiles, both men and women, slave and free.  A large and ornate colonnade, known as the porch of Solomon, encompassed the area.  Gentile tourists came into this area as part of their visit to the holy city.  The wall called Soreq, in Hebrew, separated the Gentile area from the court of Jewish women.  The court of women saw biblical events such as Jesus turning over the tables of the money changers and the encounter with the woman caught in the act of adultery from John chapter 8.  No Gentile man or woman could enter the court of Jewish women.  The inner courtyard of the temple complex was known as court of Jewish men.  From there, the sacred space known as the Holy Place, was the scene of daily activities by the priests appointed to burn incense, place the show bread, and perform other ceremonial rites. 

The Holy of Holies, the innermost location in the temple, offered the most sacred space in the Jewish temple.  The High Priest, only one day out of the year, entered the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur to offer the sacrifice of atonement.  Even the High Priest, prior to entering this sacred place, took substantial steps in order to prepare himself for this moment.  Leviticus 16 provides the details of that process, including ceremonial washing, proper clothing, and a sacrificial animal just for the High Priest and his family.  Only after extensive preparation could the High Priest stand before God to represent the people in the presence of God.  The Holy of Holies had been the location of the Ark of the Covenant.  God told Moses about this sacred space, “There I will meet you.” (Exodus 25:22)  For Israel, it was about representation.  Someone appointed to represent Israel entered that place once a year with an offering for the sins of the people.

At the time of Christ, a barrier separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Jewish temple.  A thick, heavy tapestry hung between the holy place and the Holy of Holies.  The size and weight of the temple veil required several priests to lift and hang the tapestry between the place of meeting, the very presence of God, and the nation of Israel.  A Gentile tourist to Jerusalem would never even see the veil.  They would only be able to imagine the inner portion of the temple.  The same was true for almost all Jewish woman.  They could never even get a glimpse of this barrier.  Jewish men, who were not part of the priestly ministry of Israel, were restricted from this area.  Even the priestly class of Jewish men were forbidden from entry beyond the veil.  When Christ died something dramatic happened.  Matthew’s gospel tells us that at the moment Jesus died, And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  (Matthew 27:51)

Through Christ we have access to God.  Something Gentiles could never even fathom upon their pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  Unfettered access was impossible even to devout Jews.  The only access to God was limited and granted through a human, priestly representative.  The High Priest represented the nation before God and offered sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins.  Sin, not the veil, was the true barrier to God’s presence.  The veil depicted the separation our sin created.  Sin precipitated an offering year after year on the Day of Atonement.  However, Christ died, once for all, for our sins.  The complete remission of sins is now available to us through faith in Him.  At the death of Jesus, the veil tore from top to bottom, thus marking a new day for sinners.  No longer in need of a human priestly minister, now God’s own Son brings us without fear into the divine presence.  Christ preached peace to us.  Now, having brought peace through His death, we have confident access to God.  Therefore, since 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 cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Suggested Prayer:  Father God, what an amazing thought, that the price for our sin which separated us from You has been completely paid.  My sin created a vast chasm between me and You, but You have brought me near.  You have made peace with my rebellious heart.  With confidence, I come to You for Your help.  Please help me day by day.

Posted by Daniel Sweet

Spouse - Kim

Favorite Music Artists/Bands

  • Phil Wickham
  • CityAlight
  • Flyleaf

Favorite Bible Passage:

II Corinthians 4-5

Top Three Preachers:

  • John Piper
  • R.C. Sproul
  • Alistair Begg

Daniel Sweet has served as the pastor of Matthew Road Baptist Church for over twenty years. Prior to receiving the call to the pastorate, Daniel worked as a consulting actuary with Watson Wyatt Worldwide, an international human resources consulting firm for ten years. Daniel holds an undergraduate degree in mathematics from Ouachita Baptist University, a masters degree in applied mathematics from Southern Methodist University, a Masters of Divinity from Southwestern Theological Seminary and a Masters of Historic Theology also from Southwestern and an enrolled actuary. He and his wife, Kim, have two adult sons, Austin and Michael.

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