What do you do when you get in trouble? Think back to when you were a child. There were really only two options.
Option 1: Stand your ground and tell the best lie you can trying to shift the focus from yourself as quickly as possible.
Option 2: Run away as fast as you can and find a really good hiding place to put off the inevitable as long as possible.
I was a bad liar but a good hider so I chose option two as my default more times than not. Our childhood tendencies reveal that we have a natural inclination to run away from issues that are not enjoyable because they reveal culpability.
Our history of hiding
We don’t like to admit fault, let alone our need for mercy and grace…children as well as adults. When you look at Adam and Eve and their response when they recognized they had sinned (Gen 3:8) you see the beginning of our habit to run and hide.
From that point on there was a separation between God and man because of Sin. Man was removed from the garden where he walked with God and a Cherubim and a sword blocked the way to the tree of life (Gen 3:24)
Even as God rescued his people from slavery in Egypt there was a fundamental separation between God and man. A separation based on God’s holiness and man’s sinfulness that is so vast that God had the Israelite’s mark off a boundary around the whole mountain as He came to reveal himself to them. If people crossed this boundary they would be put to death (Exodus 19:12, 21). Only the priests, if they consecrated themselves, could come near – and even that was an ominous endeavor.
Consider the tabernacle itself. Only the priest could enter behind the first veil, the holy place and only the high priest could enter behind the second veil into the most holy place, the Holy of Holies. Even that proximity to God was only allowed once a year by one person on the day of atonement (Heb 9:7) which emphasized God holiness and mankind’s sinful separation him from a holy God…and a need for mercy.
Our need for a high priest
One thing was clear, that the people needed a high priest, that the people needed a day of atonement. God dwelt among them, and it was a scary thought in light of both God’s holy nature and the people’s sinful nature.
Jesus’s death burial and resurrection broke down the veil of separation between God and Man. Quite literally, the veil was actually torn (Mt 27:51). And now we can read a passage like Heb 4:14-16 and recognize that through Christ there is not once a year access to the throne room of God for only the high priest, but that everyone who has trusted Christ as their Lord and Savior for the forgiveness of their sins can come before Him.
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 our time of need. Heb 4:14-16
Our mandate to draw near
Close proximity to God was the exception and now it is the rule for those in Christ. We are just like Adam and Eve, rebellious sinners who cannot walk with God in peace. Just like the Israelite’s who can’t go too close lest they be consumed. Just like the people who needed a high priest to enter the Holy of Holies once a year to make atonement.
That is why Christ is the supreme high priest and we have a supreme need for him. Not only does he atone for our sins once for all rather than each year, he provides constant access to God the Father and we can draw near to God with confidence that we will receive grace and mercy rather than a relationship characterized primarily by separation.
Our sin brings forth our natural inclination to run and hide. Christ’s atoning work as high priest allows us to draw near, and we need to retrain our minds to run to God because of our great high priest rather than running and hiding like Children.
Questions to reflect on:
- How is God seeking to mature you in Christ?
- What does it look like for you to draw near to God?
- Can your sins, fears, concerns and worry drive you to the throne of grace rather than trying to find help elsewhere?
- How does your need for Jesus as your high priest humble and encourage you?