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Easter - Red Light to Green Light

By: Admin on April 3, 2013

A question came to my inbox this week. It had to do with an illustration and lesson I gave on Good Friday here at Waverley.

The heart of the question was this: if God didn't allow people to come near to him in the Old Testament times, why all of the sudden is the door open because of Jesus? In other words, the switch from red light to green light seemed pretty easy.

The issues start to pop up with this. For instance, if this is the same God, Old or New Testament, did he just "change his mind" even though the Bible says God doesn't do that? How about, did God realize he had made some kind of mistake by not letting people in, so he had Jesus killed to cover up his mess? This would make God less than God, because God is never wrong according to the Bible.

In Exodus chapter 19 we read about God presenting the Law to Israel. He appeared as a dark cloud over Mount Sinai in the desert. There was thunder, lightning and earthquakes. The people were terrified and God put strict limits around the mountain. Anyone who even touched the mountain died.

Later, according to God's instructions, Israel built a tabernacle, and in the center of the tabernacle was the Most Holy Place which contained the Ark of the Covenant. This represented the presence of God. A thick curtain hung between the inner room of the tabernacle and the Most Holy Place. Anyone who went into the Most Holy Place died. If anyone touched the ark they died. If anyone offered unauthorized sacrifices, they died. Red Light.

When Jesus came to earth things changed. Jesus was God, yet he came in a form where everyone could see him, hear him and touch him. His message was, "Come". Jesus, in fact, sternly rebuked his followers when they wouldn't let someone come to him. When Jesus died, God tore the curtain between the inner room and the Most Holy Place. Now it was open to all. Green Light.

What happened here?

One of the things to remember always is that God is always presented as Holy. This is the primary, root characteristic of God. Everything God thinks, says and does is based on his holiness. Everything that we do must reflect his holiness and glory.

Sin makes us fall short of God's glory (Romans 3:23).
Sin causes us to be separated from God (Isaiah 59:2 - 4).
Sin has a price that must be paid. (Hebrews 9:22; Romans 6:23)

Therefore it is not God who has made it hard to approach him, we have put ourselves in a position where we cannot be with God nor satisfy Him. Attempting to come to Him on our own terms (approaching the mountain, trying to enter the Holy of Holies, offering sacrifices apart from the prescribed sacrifices, making images of God to worship, etc.) just results in the ending of our life.

At the right time Christ then came and died for our sins (Romans 5:6). Why that time? there are many possible answers, but the only one we can really fall back on is that it was God's perfect time.
That doesn't mean we get to enter easily into God's presence by ourselves. Hebrews 10 explains clearly that it is only by and through Jesus that we enter. We have no rights apart from Jesus. We have no access apart from Jesus. We have no rights apart from Jesus.

That it is "easy" is not true. It was very hard for God. Our access is free but not cheap. The price was paid for us out of God's grace because apart from God's grace and Jesus' person and work we have no access at all. Same God, Same Jesus, Same Holy, Same Glory, Same Requirements. It's just through Jesus that we get access.

I really encourage you to read Romans and Hebrews. They are the deep stuff, beyond milk stuff, that we Christians need to read and wrestle with.

Topics: doctrine, easter, grace

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