Whereas the whole earth was given to humankind to inhabit and rule (Genesis 1:28), the Garden of Eden was specifically designed as a Meeting Place for God and man. “The truth is clearly set forth that Life comes from God, that for man Life consists in nearness to God and that it is the central concern of God’s fellowship with man to impart Life” (Geerhardus Vos).
The Creator’s plan was diverted. Disobedience produced disconnection. Fellowship was fractured. Consequently, “God expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden and stationed angel-cherubim and a revolving sword of fire east of it, guarding the path to the Tree-of-Life.”
Fortunately, the story didn’t end there. After God delivered His people from 430 years of Egyptian bondage He gave this order: “Let them make a Dwelling Place for Me, so I may live among them. Make the meeting tent like the plans I will show you.” The design called for three sections oriented to the east: the Courtyard, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, the latter two separated by an ornate curtain. “Make a curtain of blue, purple, and scarlet material and fine twisted linen. Have a design of angel-cherubim woven into it by a skilled craftsman” (Exodus 26:3-33).
Did you catch it? Just as at Eden angel-cherubim guarded the eastern entrance (the curtain) to the place of God’s Presence, the Holy of Holies. So, how would disconnected humankind be able to have face to face fellowship with God? How was God able to have a Dwelling Place in the midst of disobedient traitors? It seems as if God changed His standards!
Once a year on the Day of Atonement (see last Lenten post) the High Priest entered God’s Dwelling Place with the blood of a slaughtered lamb. The High Priest walked around the throne (i.e. the Mercy Seat) of God’s Presence seven times, sprinkling blood on it as he moved. So, for a brief period the High Priest had fellowship with God because of the blood. God and sinful man were ONE through the blood. OOPS! Don’t forget this: The High Priest bore on his shoulders and over his heart the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. One might say that the entire nation was in long distance fellowship with God during that period.
Centuries later the real Lamb of God was dragged to Calvary to be slaughtered. As His blood oozed out, His life was depleted. Finally, Jesus said, “It is finished!” After that “the curtain in the Temple was torn into two pieces. The tear started at the top and tore all the way to the bottom” (Matthew 27:50-52). “Brothers and sisters, because of the blood of Jesus we can now confidently go into the Most Holy Place. Jesus has opened a new and living way for us to go through the curtain, His own body” (Hebrews 10:19-22).
The door is open! Just walk into Father’s Presence via the blood of the Lamb of God!