The Holy Spirit and the way into the Holiest
“The Holy Spirit indicating this that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. It was symbolic, for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience- concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation” (Hebrews 9:8-10)
WE said that the Holiest of All, or, as it is literally, the Holiness of Holinesses, was the very embodiment of the holiness of God, the place of His presence. The Holy Spirit specially bears the epithet Holy, because He is the bearer of the divine holiness to impart it to man, He is the Spirit of holiness. It will appear no more than natural that there should be a close connection between the sanctuary as the revelation of God s holiness, and the Holy Spirit as the revealer. This is what we are taught here: the whole construction of the tabernacle and the appointment of the high priests entrance once a year was so ordered by the Holy Spirit as to be a great object-lesson in which the truth was taught that so long as the veil hung there, the way into the Holiest was not yet open. The Holy Spirit signifying that the way into the Holiest was not yet opened. The words teach us that the truth about the way into the Holiest was entirely in charge of the Holy Spirit. It was He who devised and revealed to Moses the heavenly pattern. It was He who ordered the veil as the token that the way was not open. It was He who, by the yearly entrance of the high priest, gave the prophecy that it would one day be opened. It was He who prepared a body for Him, and later on filled Him who was to be the opener of the way. It was He, the Eternal Spirit, through whom Christ offered Himself as the sacrifice with whose blood He might enter in. It was He, the Spirit of holiness (Romans 1:4), through whom Christ was raised from the dead and exalted to the throne of God. It was the Holy Spirit who, when the way had been opened, came out from the Holiest of All on the day of Pentecost, to impart to men the life and the power of the glorified Christ. It is He who to-day still presides over the way into the Holiest, leading in all who are willing to dwell there.
The lesson for our spiritual life is one of deep suggestiveness. The Holy Spirit has charge of the way into the Holiest; both while that way is not yet manifest and when it is opened up. He alone hath the knowledge and the power to reveal this mystery. For it is still a spiritual mystery. Though everything that Scripture reveals of it can be studied and understood by any man of intelligence, and a clear conception can be formed, or an exposition given of what it means, the living power of the truth, the actual experience of entering in through the opened veil into the presence of God, can only be communicated and wrought in the life within by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit alone can reveal in the heart what the way means, both where it is not yet made manifest, and where it is. He can work in a man the deep conviction that he does, or does not know, the true nearness of God in his own experience.
We have seen that the two compartments of the tabernacle represent two degrees of nearness to God, two dispensations of God’ s grace, or two stages in the Christian life, a lower and a higher. Into the Holy Place every priest might come daily to do there the service God had appointed. Into the Most Holy he might not enter till Christ had opened it for all believers. Many believers never in experience enter into this life of the inner sanctuary, the more complete and abiding nearness to God. They have, in the outer court, seen the altar, and received the pardon of sin; they have entered upon the service of God, they seek to do His will, but the joy of His presence as their abiding portion they know not. And very often they do not know that there is a better life, that there is an entering within the veil, a real dwelling in the secret of God’s presence ; the need that the Holy Spirit signify to them, work in them the conviction that to them the way into the Holiest hath not yet been made manifest. They need- Oh let us, if we have not yet entered in, let us give ourselves to pray for the discovery that there is an inner chamber; that there is still the veil of the flesh, the life of the carnal Christian, that prevents the access; that only the possession of the Pentecostal blessing, the Spirit that came from the throne when Jesus had rent the veil, that reveals Him and links to Him, is what will bring us in.
When He has signified this to us, and we yield ourselves to the full conviction that we are still without the veil, and strong desire has been awakened at any cost to enter in, the same Spirit who at Pentecost, when our High Priest had just entered with His blood, came forth from the Holiest of All, will come to us in power and bring us in too. As He reveals Jesus Himself as having gone in for us; as He makes us willing for that perfect surrender, in which nothing less than the direct and continual fellowship with God can satisfy us; our hearts will open to the wondrous mystery, that what is impossible to men is possible with God, and that God of His free grace and in His mighty power does indeed grant it to His child, even now in Christ, to dwell with Him in unbroken communion.
O God! Let the Holy Spirit witness to every reader who needs it, that to him the way into the Holiest hath not yet been made manifest; and to everyone who is ready for it, that in Christ the way into the Holiest is indeed open. With Pentecost, and the participation it brought of the Spirit of the glorified Jesus, began true Christianity, as a ministration of the Spirit. The enjoyment of the Pentecostal gift, as the communication of the heavenly life and the abiding presence of Jesus the glorified One, in all its Pentecostal freshness and fullness, is the only power that can enable us to live within the veil, in the living experience that the way into the Holiest has now been opened. It is the Spirit dwelling in us will fit us for dwelling in God s presence.
In studying the meaning of the Mosaic ritual, there are specially four things, through which the Holy Spirit shadows forth to us the mysteries of redemption, the good things to come of the new dispensation that Israel was to look for. These are THE PRIEST, THE SANCTUARY, THE BLOOD, and THE WAY INTO THE HOLIEST. We have these four things here together. There is Christ the High Priest of the good things to come, there is the greater and more perfect tabernacle, there is His own blood, and there is His entering in into the Holiest. As we apprehend the power of these things, we shall know the meaning of His having obtained eternal redemption. Let us hear what the Holy Spirit speaks of the opening up the Holiest, and the wonderful path in which that was effected.
The writer uses a very remarkable expression, Christ through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, entered into the Holiest. The two compartments of the sanctuary are the symbols of two states of life, two degrees of fellowship with God. The Epistle teaches us that Christ knew this difference in His own life experience, and, in entering into and opening up the higher one for us, passed through the lower. He entered into the Holiest through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, through the experience of that spiritual reality of which the tabernacle was the shadow. The Holiest is God s immediate presence, the Holy Place a drawing nigh to God with a veil between. The flesh, man s fallen nature in its weakness and its exposure to all the consequences of sin, is the veil. Christ has dedicated for us a new and living way through the veil, that is to say, His flesh. When He came in the likeness of sinful flesh, that life in flesh, with its liability to temptation, and its weakness, with its possibility of suffering and death, with its life of faith and prayer and tears, with its need of learning obedience and being made perfect, with its subjection to the law and its curse, was the Holy Place, the first tabernacle, through which He had to pass to have the veil rent in His death, so to enter in and appear before God. Christ lived with His people in the Old Testament; He passed through the first tabernacle as a spiritual experience in perfect reality; it was only with His resurrection and ascension the New Testament began.
Yes, Christ passed from the Holy Place into the Holiest of All. When He died the veil was rent in twain; the two compartments were made one. The priest who was in the Holy Place could see, could enter into the Holiest. All that was in the Holiest, the light of God s presence between the cherubim, could shine unhindered into the Holy Place. In Christ the veil of the flesh was rent asunder and taken away. The free access to God was opened up, not only as a thing of right and title in virtue of our pardon, but as a thing of power and living reality. Ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be the Spirit of Christ dwelleth in you. When the veil was rent and Christ entered in, the two abodes, what had been the dwelling of God, and what had been the dwelling of the priests, were thrown into one. The eyes and the hearts of men might freely and boldly look up and rise up and greet their God and Father; in Christ they had their place before Him. All the light and love and holiness of the Most Holy shone into the Holy Place. The Spirit of God, as He was received by Christ from God the Father on His ascension, passed down into the worshippers. The Pentecostal gift brought down, from above, the higher life into which the blessed Son had entered; the Holy Spirit made the light and love and holiness of the inner sanctuary not only a vision, a revelation, but a possession and an experience.
The veil of the flesh has been rent; Christ has entered once for all, having obtained everlasting redemption; the dwelling of God and man has been thrown into one; the Spirit of heaven has been given to signify to us, and to give us the living experience, that the way into the Holiest has been made manifest. Our
entering in, our dwelling in God s presence in the light and nearness and holiness of the Most Holy, is a spiritual, a heavenly reality It can only be apprehended by the tender, by the perfect conscience, which the Holy Spirit gives to him who is willing to give up all to be saved completely, by the perfect whose senses are exercised to discern good and evil. But to all who are willing to pass through the rent veil of Christ s flesh, to die with Him as He died, and live with Him as He lived, the Holy Spirit will show it; the way into the Holiest is opened up.
Christ having come, entered in once for all. Four thousand years after man s loss of fellowship with God in paradise had to pass. Fifteen hundred years the veil had to hang with its solemn injunction not to draw near. Thirty-three years the Son of God Himself had to live on this side of the veil. But at length, once for all and forever, the way was opened. Fear not, O Christian, to whom these things appear too high, fear not. Be thou faithful, through faith and longsuffering we inherit the promises. Persevere in the faith of what Christ has accomplished once for all. He entered in, the Second Adam, in whom our life is, whose members we are. Persevere in the faith of the infinite meaning of that great transaction. And to thee, too, will come a day when, in thy experience, thou shalt enter, and go out no more forever.
This entering in and opening up of the Holiest was solely and entirely on our behalf, that we might live and serve there. Therefore the practical part of the Epistle commences at once; therefore, having boldness to enter into the Holiest, let us draw nigh. That is the summing up of the whole Epistle (Hebrews). God is not content that we should serve Him with a veil between. Let us know clearly which of the two positions we occupy as Christians within or still without the veil.
Shall we any longer fear and doubt? The Father in heaven beckoning us into His presence; the Son, our Brother, Prophet, Priest, and King, pointing to the way He opened for us and the Holy Spirit within us to be our light and strength, to enable us to walk in that way, shall we fear? No, let us hear the voice that gives the power: Rise up and walk. Enter in.
Do get it very clear that the two compartments are two stages in religious life and worship and service, the one when the power of the rent veil is not yet understood; the other where the Holy Spirit has brought us in.
(Andrew Murray in “Holiest of All” an Exposition on Epistle to the Hebrews)