I want you to know that what I am about to share with you is by far one of the most off-the-chart life rearranging and eye-opening truths I have ever had the privilege of becoming aware of. In Fact it borderlines on the sacred and sublime. Not to be read lightly I might add.
The very first book of the Bible that I ever read as a Christian was the book of Hebrews. It has a special place in my heart. Probably one of the more difficult books to understand and as a new believer it was way over my head. But over the years my depth of insight and understanding into the deep meanings in this book has significantly increased. One of the reasons it is a favorite is that it portrays Jesus Christ distinctively as the High Priest who offered Himself as the full atonement sacrifice and He is seen clearly as ministering in the heavenly sanctuary thus granting us access to come boldly to the throne of grace.
Let’s start with that. I am mesmerized by the above revelation.
And because of that truth, it can continue on to say in Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
The first three words of this verse can only be stated because of what Jesus has done – ‘let us then…’! I want to return to this later because the meaning of these three words is the most pivotal transition from the Old Covenant to the New. It is only because of what Jesus has done that the next word in this verse ‘approach’ can be before the phrase ‘the throne of grace.’ The mere fact that there is a throne of grace is what causes my heart to bow in gratitude and thankfulness. How wondrous and amazing! This throne is unlike any other kind of throne.
For a throne to be a throne it must have one in authority upon it, a king or a deity. Many kings have sat on their thrones, some as vicious tyrants, and others as benefactors from family or estates. But there is no throne in which a mortal king has occupied that can ever be called the throne of grace. Our loving God is so bent towards grace that He actually seats Himself upon it and surrounds Himself by it. His throne is the only throne of grace! As I sit here writing this, right this moment, I am awestruck feeling the weightiness of the Lord’s presence. I want to proceed with extra care, pondering how to articulate something that is beyond imagination and also figure out how to express the unfathomable bounty of loveliness that is indescribable. This is quite frankly one of the most profound truths ever, so I find myself not being able to convey not only how I am embracing this, but just who is this marvelous God of grace. To pursue something that is so much bigger than myself and portray it correctly is a joyous yet daunting notion and the fact that I will never grasp this fully is actually incredible and in all honesty, a relief.
God is always found seated on His throne. This is important. There is nothing that disturbs Him or can overtake Him because He is always at rest; at rest in Himself and at rest with all of everything. The throne of grace we are talking about must be the throne of God, which is in heaven (Rev 4:2). So since the throne is in heaven how can we possibly approach it?
I read this quote from Warren W. Wiersbe, “The mercy seat on the ark of the covenant was God’s throne in Israel. However, it was never to be called the throne of grace. Grace does not veil itself from people. Grace does not hide itself in a tent.”
The mercy seat on the ark was God’s throne in Israel. This almost unparalleled spot was where the fire of His glory blazed. This fire was what led the Israelites in power, protection, guidance, and comfort. They may not have known it or felt it and were most likely at that time afraid of it, but that fire is the most powerful force in the universe. Incredible and so unapproachable! When I thought about the fact that the Old Testament mercy seat on the ark in the Holy of Holies was the place of God’s presence, I had this thought come over me, a revelation really….
This could never have been the throne of grace. Once this swept over me it intrigued me to look and see if there are any other passages or scriptures in the Bible that refer to the throne of grace. And I got my answer. There are none! Not one. Only this Hebrews 4:16 verse. So it struck me…
And, this is what is so profound. There could never be a throne of grace in the Old Covenant only in the New Covenant, the new order. I am hoping you are beginning to see what I saw? The Old Covenant of the Law was established by God through Moses. The blood of the sacrifice or atonement concealed the ever-condemning judgment of sin and would be the covering as the high priest would enter once a year, each year, and sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat. God designated a particular place of worship, and a Tabernacle or Tent of Meeting was constructed as the place to bring forth these sacrifices. It was made to exact measurements, dimensions, and details. This is the spot of the mercy seat. If we consider what Israel had to do to meet with God, we are reminded of the blessed privilege we have today.
Where do we meet with God? We don’t have to stay at a distance. We don’t have to bring a sacrifice or consult with a prophet or a priest. As believers in Jesus Christ, made new, we have immediate access to God through the presence of the Holy Spirit. Today the Tent of Meeting is inside of us because God came to make His home in us. The Lord is both in heaven and in our heart. We have a different relationship because of the access granted to us as Jesus died for our sin and the veil of the Holy of Holies was ripped in two. Again, we see in Hebrews 4:16 that we can now come boldly!
The ‘let us then’ from our key verse becomes the tipping point. Before Jesus, the mercy seat was a spot of fear; no one could come near for fear of death. Atonement was necessary. But because of Jesus it is now “let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence.” What a drastic change.
In Hebrews 9:11 it says, “When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation.” This was not the earthly tabernacle we discussed earlier, that was a copy or a model. The perfect one cannot be man-made or of this earth. It is faultless and flawless because it is describing the heavenly sanctuary of God’s throne. Hebrews 9 goes on to say in verse 12 “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” When the blood of a lamb was sprinkled on the mercy seat in the earthly tabernacle it made the Jewish Israelite outwardly clean but it only covered their sin. However, something entirely different has taken place. Having finished the work that His Father sent Him to do, shedding the only blood that could possibly open heavens doors, Jesus the Messiah entered triumphantly into this heavenly sanctuary as the blameless spotless Lamb slain for the sins of the world.
Noting this, Hebrews 9:15 says, “For this reason, Christ is the mediator of a New Covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” The next few verses in Hebrews 9 go on to fully convey the astounding facts in seamless detail. “For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest entered the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” This is utterly indescribable, He, God, sacrificed Himself! Oh, what a glorious King! We have been reconciled to God.
He promised to find us, and He came just as He promised. We have been reconciled. We have access. We can approach. We can come boldly to the throne of grace. Amazing! As I said, there are just no words to describe the magnitude of this. This is what I find so absolutely mind-boggling to comprehend, so I have to sit back and keep digesting this and meditating on the glory of it all. I want to repeat it in a different way for emphasis…
Jesus the Son of God submitted Himself for the surety of the sinner. He underwent the judgment and condemnation of the law and satisfied the justice needed. He brought everlasting righteousness and upon this foundation is the throne of grace. And it will stand forever! Each believer has everlasting right standing with God! This could never have taken place in the earthly tabernacle. The mercy seat on the ark could never have been a place of grace. But because of Jesus, it is now a Throne of Grace! This is seriously true!
Whatever comes from a throne of grace must come in way of gift. Otherwise, it would not suit the nature of the throne. There is a majesty in the gifts that are so beautifully given from this throne as well as the lovely manner in the way of the giving.
It is inconceivable of the great King whose name is Gracious, to receive a price from us. What He gives, He freely gives, without regard to or for any need of qualifications in or from us. That is why we can now come and face Him face to Face. There is such beauty in the reality of this. The truth of God’s full extent of grace will reign in the soul who grasps this in the fiber of their being. It is vital to see…. The veil has forever been removed!!
If we go back to Hebrews 4:16 there is something that we receive at the throne of grace. What is this? It says we receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. What is the difference between mercy and grace? They somewhat overlap, but mercy has special reference to God’s tenderness toward us because of our pitifulness due to our helpless condition caused by our sin. Grace refers to His undeserved favor in freely forgiving our sins, which in fact deserve His judgment. Grace enables us to be empowered in and through our weaknesses. His grace in us supplies all we need for every good work. It is always beautiful and always attractive. We receive Jesus through His mercy then we truly find Him.
God no longer has to confine Himself to a formal physical Tent of Meeting. There is something exceptional about the secret hiding place of our face to face encounters as we come and approach. It was a fact that the pillar of fire and cloud stood at the entrance to the Tent enveloping Moses. The Wiersbe quote said “Grace does not veil itself from people. Grace does not hide itself in a tent.” We are now enveloped in the zipped heart of God’s love in a whole new way. In Hebrews 6:19 “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become the High Priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”
There is a popular song out right now by Hillsong called ‘Cornerstone’. One day I had my headphones on listening to this song, in of all places, the sauna at the gym. The words are taken from an old hymn and they are extremely powerful. That day I was feeling very raw after finding out some difficult and complicated life changing news, and the Lord used this song to speak to my heart. It says, “When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil”. As I sat there sweating, I started wondering what on earth this actually means – my anchor holds within the veil. So what do you do if you don’t know something you Google it, right? So that’s what I did right there in the sauna. It turns out that it is a verse in the Bible, who knew. I had never recognized it because I do not usually read the King James Version. I was flabbergasted. But an overwhelming sense of peace and rest started to well up in me. Jesus is my anchor, holding fast my access behind and beyond the veil. Just as a ship’s anchor goes down to the ocean bed, even in the fiercest storms, its anchor holds that boat right in a stationary spot. So it goes in the storms of life, Jesus is the anchor that transcends up into the true heavenly sanctuary where I am moored to God Himself. He gives constant connection into the Most Holy Place in the heavenly sanctuary. In fact, I am seated in Christ at the right hand of the Father this very moment.
We often struggle with thinking we have to keep crucifying our flesh and dying to self all the time. But this degrades the faithful gift that the Lord so wholeheartedly died to give us. So instead we’re to have one simple focus. Eyes on Jesus. God wants us to dwell in the shelter of the Most High and rest in the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91:1) God is always at rest; at rest in Himself and at rest with all of everything. This verse in Hebrews 4:1 is for each person who is redeemed, “Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands…”. “Now we who have believed enter that rest…” Hebrews 4:3. Our rest is in the Rest of God. It’s at the throne. Nowhere else. God’s rest is absolutely intended for us.
It’s obviously not in worrying, it’s truthfully not found in talking with our friends over and over about our tribulations, and it’s not even found in going to church to do all of the good works. It’s at the throne. This is where you hear the heart of God, in His presence. This is where you receive mercy, this is where we have the freedom of grace that releases God’s Spirit to be all we need in every moment.
Let us run to the throne of grace with confidence, I am mesmerized by this oh such great grace!
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