Priesthood, Part 6: The Holy of Holies

We have been looking at the priesthood and the Temple over the past year. We began the year with Yeshua clearing out the Temple and making a severe warning. We have seen that as believers, we are called to be a royal priesthood and in so doing we must follow the ways of the Temple. We have seen that there is an order of worship that needs to be followed. We have entered the Temple with thanksgiving and its courts with praise. We have stopped at the altar and, as Yeshua laid down His life, so we too lay down our lives. Because of the offering of Yeshua, we now can repent of our sins and be forgiven. We can be washed in the blood of the Lamb at the Laver. We then may enter into the Holy Place and feast at the table of the Lord and eat of the finest of wheat (God’s Word) so we walk in the light of God’s Word. From there, we come with the fire of our offering and light the incense of our prayers that go up to God. But now we must stop at the veil.

The Temple Veil

The veil separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. Behind the veil sat the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat. The veil concealed the Presence of God. The High Priest was permitted to pass through the veil and entered the Holy of Holies once a year on Yom Kippur. Exodus tells us that, “All the skilled women spun with their hands, and brought what they had spun, in blue and purple and scarlet material and in fine linen.” Two cherubs were woven into the veil.

Miriam and the Temple Veil

The following is a story about Miriam the mother of Yeshua. Now this story is taken from a non-canonical gospel, so we can only look at the following in the light of history, and even maybe as a fictional event. In the days before Yeshua’s birth, King Herod the Great was involved in remodeling the Temple. The craftsmen and builders completed the renovation inside and out without disrupting the Temple service. There is a reference in the Book of John where it tells us that it took forty-six years to build the Temple. That would place the beginning of the remodeling project about a decade before the birth of Yeshua. Part of the remodeling project required the creation of new fabrics for the curtains and veils (the front veil and the veil that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies). According to the apocryphal gospel Protoevangelium of James, which was a third century pseudepigraphical gospel, Miriam (the mother of Yeshua) was one of the women chosen to work on the veils; and there was a council of priests, saying, “Let us make a veil for the Temple of the Lord.” And the priest said, “Call to me the undefiled virgins of the family of David.” And the officers went away, and sought, and found seven virgins. And the priest remembered the child Mary, that she was of the family of David and undefiled before God. And the officers went away and brought her. And they brought them all into the Temple of the Lord. And the priest said, “Choose for me by lot who shall spin the gold, and the white, and the scarlet, and the true purple.” And the true purple and the scarlet fell to the lot of Mary (Protoevangelium James 10).

Within this same gospel is the story of the miraculous conception and miraculous birth of Mary, the girlhood of Mary, her betrothal to Joseph, and the miraculous conception and birth of Yeshua. The Orthodox Jewish scholar Samuel Safrai has suggested that Protoevangelium James might contain some historically based, non-canonical traditions about those events. Specifically, he points to the tradition of Miriam weaving the veil for the Temple. He deems it may possibly contain a kernel of historical truth because it has a direct parallel in the Tosefta Shekalim: “Women used to weave the veils of the Temple… and they were paid from monies donated to the Temple” (Tosefta Shekalim). Thanks to Protoevangelium James, church artwork depicts Mary, before the birth of Yeshua, almost always with a bolt of scarlet cloth. Miriam may have been employed to weave together the fabrics for the Temple at the same time God was choosing her to be used so that Yeshua the living Temple could become the veil; to quote the Psalmist, “Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb.” In Hebrews it says, “The veil, that is, His flesh….” Yeshua is the veil and when He died, the very same veil that His mother may have woven was torn in half so that all who accepted Him may go in.

Tis the Season to Remember Yeshua in the Holy of Holies

We are told that in the Garden of Eden, God dwelt with Adam and Eve and He walked amongst them. How He exactly did that we are not sure. When Adam and Eve sinned, they were cast out from the Presence of God, but God would one day again walk among men. The Lord said to Moses, “Let them construct a sanctuary (a Mikdash, a holy place) to My Name, and I will make My Shechinah (Presence) dwell among them.” The word for dwell, shachan, is also at the root of the word Mishkan, Tabernacle. Yeshua is the Tabernacle; He is the Shachan, the Presence.

The Holy of Holies was the place where God’s Presence resided. Behind the veil in the Holy of Holies—or the Most Holy Place as it was also called—sat the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant was symbolic of the Throneroom of God. Yeshua is the Mikdash, the Holy Place, for He is the Holy One. The Tabernacle was to be both a holy place and a dwelling place. As we have seen, the Tabernacle teaches us about Messiah. God required a holy place to dwell among His people; so too Yeshua needed a holy place to dwell, and that place was a human body. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory (shechinah), as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” So, to literally translate this verse, it should read, “And the Word became flesh, and did tabernacle among us.” When God spoke to Moses to build the Tabernacle, the Targum Yonaton on Exodus 24:22 says of the Tabernacle, “I will appoint My Memra (Word) to meet you there.” Messiah fulfills these Scriptures literally. He dwelt among us in His physical body, a Sanctuary for God, a dwelling among man. Remember, Yeshua said, “Destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up again.” It was no coincidence that Yeshua was born during the time of the Feast of Tabernacles.

As the priesthood, we too are the Temple of the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit dwells within us and we too must be holy. In 1 Corinthians 6:19, Paul reminds us of this. In 2 Corinthians 6:15-16, Paul says, “Or what harmony has Yeshua with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the Temple of God with idols?” For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God. And they shall be My people.” Holiness (to be set-apart) is mandated to have God dwell within us. John writes, “Fellowship with the world is enmity toward God.”

As the world celebrates the birth of Yeshua, let us remember His holiness (the Holy of Holies) and the miracle of the Word clothing itself within humanity (the veil).

The Ark of the Covenant

The Ark was almost 4 feet long and 2 1„4 feet high and 2 1⁄4 feet deep and inside the Ark was the Torah (the spoken Word of God, who is Yeshua), a jar of manna (the Bread of life, who is Yeshua), and Aaron’s budded rod (the authority and fruitfulness of the priesthood of believers who are in Yeshua). The Ark was so holy that only the tribe of Levi could carry it. After Aaron’s sons were struck down because they lit strange fire before the Lord, God told Moses that Aaron and his sons could only enter into the Most Holy Place once a year (Yom Kippur) and then they had to make atonement for themselves and the people. Maintaining holiness requires boundaries. If a holy space is treated like normal space, it loses its sanctity. So on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would enter into the Holy of Holies and he would sprinkle the blood of the sin offering upon it.

The cover of the Ark is called Kaporet which comes from the word Kaphar which means “to cover” or “to atone.” Upon the Ark sat the Mercy Seat. The Mercy Seat is the place of atonement. Two winged cherubim covered it with outstretched wings—again, a picture of Heaven with the two cherubim before the throne of God. It was here at the Mercy Seat that God spoke to Moses. Thank God through our Lord Yeshua that He has entered in behind the veil with His own blood as the sacrifice once and for all, and now He has become our Great High Priest who lives to make intercession on our behalf!

Hush, God is Present

When we entered into the first veil or door of the Tabernacle/Temple, we entered with thanksgiving and praise, shouting and celebrating; but when we entered into the last veil, we entered in with silence. Entering into the Most Holy Place was done with awe and reverence. In fact, they would tie a rope around the priest on Yom Kippur so if he would die in the Presence of God, they could pull him out because otherwise they would not be able to enter in to retrieve him. All that the priest would say at that time was God’s Most Holy Name. Scripture repeatedly says that we must enter in with a hush. Habakkuk 2:20 says, “But the Lord is in His Holy Temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Zechariah 2:13 says, “Be silent all flesh before the Lord, for He is aroused from His Holy Habitation.” Zephaniah 1:7 says, “Be silent in the Presence of the Lord.” This is an element that we Christians miss. Scripture tells us that we may come into God’s presence with boldness and so we think that we can just barge in on a Holy God. Yes, we can come before God with a confidence because of the sacrifice of Yeshua; in other words, God will not strike us dead if we come before Him. But we must still enter in with a hush.

If we go through the process of entering in with thanksgiving and praise, and we stop at the altar in which Yeshua laid down His life and we too lay down ours by humbling ourselves, crucifying the flesh, and we confess our sins, then going to the Laver we are washed in the blood of Yeshua and receive forgiveness, we then can enter in and feast at the Table of the Lord and eat from the Bread of Life, letting the Word abide in us, placing the Word in our hearts so that we will not sin again which will cause us to walk in the light of the Menorah, Yeshua, and bring our prayers to the Altar of Incense and then come into the Presence of God, quietly, waiting for God to speak to us. All too often Christians do not wait on the Lord to speak to them. All too often our prayers are hindered because of sin and we never are allowed to enter in because of our sins. We forgot to stop and repent. Before we enter into Communion at church—which is fellowship with God—we must examine ourselves and repent of our sins, so why do we not do this every time we commune with God in prayer?

There is a path to worship and we must walk on the path that leads to God. As priests we must do our priestly duties as it is done in heaven. God spoke to Moses and told him to make the Tabernacle exactly like heaven, and the priests were to minister exactly like it is done in heaven. We can not say that the Tabernacle/Temple was just for the Jews. Ezekiel, Zechariah, and many of the prophets spoke of the end times and they refer to the Temple in the Messianic Days. In fact, it says that all the nations will come up for the Feast of Tabernacles and if they don’t, God will punish them. If we will be keeping God’s Appointed Feasts in the Messianic Era including the true Sabbath, shouldn’t we be keeping them now? So too we must follow all of God’s ways now, which includes coming into His Presence with holiness and a reverence. Just think, we wouldn’t come before royalty or even into a courtroom before a judge with outbursts, but with a quietness and respect. How much more so before God Almighty!

Now We Are Ready!

When Moses saw the burning bush and went toward it, God called out to him and told him to take his sandals off for the place where he was standing was holy. Moses hid his face and was afraid to look upon God. Then God told him that He was sending him back to Egypt. When Joshua met the Captain of the Lord’s Army, he fell on his face. Then the Angel of the Lord told him what he needed to do. Isaiah, when he came into the Presence of God, said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips.” The Angel of the Lord took a coal off the altar and touched his lips. After Isaiah comes into the Presence of God he hears God say, “Whom shall I send?” And he responds, “Send me.” Time and time again when we come into God’s Presence and we are still before Him, God will speak to us and give us the answers that we need or the direction we must go. As we come before the Messiah this Holiday Season, let us come with thanksgiving and praise, but then as we come to Him, let us come believing that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Let us pause in silence and listen for that small, still voice telling us the deep truths of His Word as He calls us into His service. As priests before God, let us be holy as He is holy, ministering to Him, bringing our gifts before Him just like the wise men who brought their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, all of which were used in the Tabernacle. Let us bring the best gift we have, our lives, and as a royal priesthood let us be used as vessels of honor in the hand of our King, Yeshua HaMashiach.

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4 thoughts on "Priesthood, Part 6: The Holy of Holies"

  1. Gilbert Duku says:

    Thanks so much for blessing us with Gods word

  2. Katie says:

    I am not Jewish but,I enjoyed the wisdom and knowledge that I obtained from this teaching.
    Thank you so much

  3. BJ says:

    How did the priest enter into the of Holy of Holies when the veil hadn’t been torn yet?

    1. Judeo-Christian Clarion says:

      The priest could enter into the Holy of Holies by just pulling the current back enough for him to walk through but only once a year. Leviticus 16 tells us what he need to do to enter even once a year on Yom Kippur or also called the Day of Atonement.
      “Tell your brother Aaron that he shall not enter at any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the atoning cover which is on the ark, or he will die; for I will appear in the cloud over the atoning cover. Aaron shall enter the Holy Place with this: with a bull as a sin offering and a ram as a burnt offering. He shall put on the holy linen tunic, and the linen undergarments shall be next to his body, and he shall be wrapped about the waist with the linen sash and the linen turban wound around his forehead (these are holy garments). He shall bathe his body in water and put them on. And he shall take from the congregation of the sons of Israel two male goats as a sin offering, and one ram as a burnt offering. Then Aaron shall offer the bull as the sin offering, which is for himself, so that he may make atonement for himself and for his household. He shall then take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the doorway of the tent of meeting. Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat. Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for the Lord fell, and make it a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot for the scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the scapegoat. Then Aaron shall offer the bull of the sin offering which is for himself and make atonement for himself and for his household, and he shall slaughter the bull of the sin offering which is for himself. He shall take a firepan full of coals of fire from upon the altar before the Lord and two handfuls of finely ground sweet incense, and bring it inside the veil. He shall put the incense on the fire before the Lord, so that the cloud of incense may cover the atoning cover that is on the ark of the testimony, otherwise he will die. Moreover, he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the atoning cover on the east side; also in front of the atoning cover he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times and cleanse it, and consecrate it from the impurities of the sons of Israel. When he finishes atoning for the Holy Place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall offer the live goat. Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the wrongdoings of the sons of Israel and all their unlawful acts regarding all their sins; and he shall place them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands ready. Then the goat shall carry on itself all their wrongdoings to an [t]isolated territory; he shall release the goat in the wilderness. Then he shall slaughter the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the atoning cover and in front of the atoning cover. He shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the impurities of the sons of Israel and because of their unlawful acts regarding all their sins; and he shall do so for the tent of meeting which remains with them in the midst of their impurities. When he goes in to make atonement in the Holy Place, no one shall be in the tent of meeting until he comes out, so that he may make atonement for himself and for his household, and for all the assembly of Israel. Then he shall go out to the altar that is before the Lord and make atonement for it; he shall take some of the blood from the bull and some of the blood from the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar on all sides. With his finger he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it seven times and cleanse it, and consecrate it from the impurities of the sons of Israel. Then Aaron shall come into the tent of meeting and take off the linen garments which he put on when he went into the Holy Place, and shall leave them there. And he shall bathe his body with water in a holy place and put on his clothes, and come out and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people, and make atonement for himself and for the people. Then he shall offer up in smoke the fat of the sin offering on the altar. The one who released the goat as the scapegoat shall wash his clothes and bathe his body with water; then afterward he shall come into the camp. But the bull of the sin offering and the goat of the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be taken outside the camp, and they shall burn their hides, their flesh, and their refuse in the fire. Then the one who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body with water; and afterward he shall come into the camp. This shall be a permanent statute for you: in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall humble yourselves and not do any work, whether the native, or the stranger who resides among you; for it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before the Lord. It is to be a Sabbath of solemn rest for you, so that you may humble yourselves; it is a permanent statute. ”
      Hebrew 9:11-12 says, “But when Messiah appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” We must remember that the Sanctuary was a replica of the Sanctuary in heaven. Both places were holy and today when we enter into the Sanctuary…the place where we meet God, it too, must be holy. We can not take the blood of Yeshua lightly, this is why we too, must still keep the Day of Atonement, because we are told that we must also examine ourselves. 2 Corinthians 13:5 says, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Messiah Yeshua is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” 2 Peter 1:10-11 says also, “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Messiah Yeshua.” 1 Corinthians 11: 27-32 says, “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy way, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a person must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For the one who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not properly recognize the body. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number are asleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.”
      We have many teachings on all of this.