The Lord said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die. For I will appear in the cloud over the atonement cover. This is how Aaron is to enter the Most Holy Place…” (Leviticus 16:2-3, NIV)
The Most Holy Place was the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle, where the Ark of the Covenant was kept and where God made His invisible presence visible. This was sacred space, and it could not be entered into willy-nilly. For a human being to be in the physical presence of the LORD God Almighty was no small thing! Aaron, the high priest, had to go through a strict ritual cleansing to enter the Most Holy Place. He had to bathe, wear certain clothes (even special underclothes), and sacrifice a bull for his own sin before he could enter into the Most Holy Place to offer the sacrifice for the people of Israel. Once Aaron was done making the sacrifices for the people, he was to change out of the clothes, bathe again, and offer another burnt offering for himself.
Thank God that Jesus is a better sacrifice, that His blood is superior to that of goats and bulls, and that through His death on the cross He won access for us to come directly into the presence of God–to “approach the throne of grace with boldness” (Hebrews 4:16)! Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, we’re not going to die when we come before the LORD, we can approach Him with boldness like a small child who runs up to their Daddy, grabs onto his legs, and says, “Pick me up, Daddy!”
And yet, as beautiful as this is, the challenge from Leviticus this morning was to remember that for a human being to stand in the presence of the Most High God is no insignificant matter! If there is one mistake we Evangelicals make (and there are many), it is that we often don’t take the worship of God seriously. We think of Jesus as our homeboy and are so familiar with God we risk losing the reverence we should have toward Him. When we come to church on Sunday morning, we are coming to literally meet our Maker.
If you were going to meet the President of the United States, the Queen of England, a Prime Minister, Emporer, or another world leader, what would you do to prepare yourself? Most of us would look in our closets for appropriate clothes to wear. We’d shower, shave, get a fresh haircut, clip our fingernails, and brush our teeth. Before being ushered into the presence of the very important person, we’d be searched. We may have a background check done on us. The point is, you don’t just walk into the President’s office or the Queen’s palace willy-nilly.
God is not just a VIP, He is the VIP, the Most High. Are you ready to meet your Maker this Sunday? My prayer is that this week we will get a glimpse of the power and majesty of God, and remember that while God has called us friends, He is still the King of the Universe. Humility, confession, and repentance are appropriate as we prepare to worship Him together next Sunday.