Take Me In – Kutless

Take Me In – Kutless

Take me past the outer courts
Into the Holy Place
Past the brazen altar
Lord I want to see your face
Pass me by the crowds of people
And the Priests who sing your praise
I hunger and thirst for your righteousness
But it’s only found in one place

[Chorus:] Take me into the holy of holies
Take me in by the blood of the lamb
Take me into the holy of holies
Take the coal, touch my lips, here I am

I don’t know about you guys, but we have the instrumentation and the ability to do this one, and I really feel strongly about it.

I first heard this song back in the 80’s when I was a kid, as performed by Petra on Petra Praise: The Rock Cries Out. This is a much harder version, but I feel like it captures the prayerful, emotional point of the song a little more ably than Petra was able to.

The lyrics will require that we stop and explain them before we play. First of all, I volunteer to preach if we play this song. Secondly, it’s important that we examine any song we play and understand what we’re saying, at every level of understanding our audience may be listening. So, bear with me here. If you don’t have time to read this now, just bookmark it or print it and come back to it when you do.

Worship in the Earthly Tabernacle

1 Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. 2 A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, 4 which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. 5 Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now.

6 When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. 7 But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. 8 The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing. 9 This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. 10 They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings–external regulations applying until the time of the new order.

The Blood of Christ

11 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. 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. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

15 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.
Heb 9:1-15 (NIV)

The Jewish faith at the time of Christ was, and remains, unique in the world in that there is only one temple, one place of worship, one place you could offer sacrifices and ritually cleanse yourself. That temple resided in Jerusalem. It has been built, destroyed and rebuilt at least four times that I can recall reading, and though two Islamic mosques stand there today, the Temple Mount remains one of the most holy (and hotly contested) sites in the Jewish faith.

The Temple of Jerusalem was, at that time, split into four major sections. The two outer sections were a “court of the Gentiles” outside the walls, and inside a “court of the Israelites.” In the court of the Israelites the Sanhedrin (the high priests of the Jewish people) sponsored a vibrant market in the court of the Israelites dealing in sacrificial animals (which had to be ritually “clean,” themselves) and other religious artifacts such as the tzitziyot (tasseled undergarment) or yarmulke. These outer sections were of course filled with people on the sabbath and probably very confusing, like a day in Disney’s Magic Kingdom on a summer weekend, if you’ve ever experienced that. It’s crowded, smelly, people are pushing their way around, shouting and haggling. In the best of moments, it’s distracting from the purpose of worshipping God. These areas were also crowded with those who were teaching, including, in Acts, James and Peter.

Past these outer courts was a room with a brazier and altar for sacrificing animals known as the court of the Priests. This was where priests would conduct sacrifices for the penitents waiting and watching from the open doors to the north, east and south.

Behind the altar there was a small room (the Holy Place), with a floor-to-ceiling curtain, or veil, behind which history tells us were the most holy objects of the Judaic faith, the Ark of the Covenant and inside the broken pieces of the stone into which the Ten Commandments were chiseled, Aaron’s staff, and a golden jar of manna. The high priest was allowed into the Holy Place only once a year, and then only with a blood sacrifice to beg forgiveness for the sins of his people. The area behind the veil was known as the Holy of Holies, or the Most Holy Place.

The moment Jesus died, the veil in the Holy Place was torn, from top to bottom, and thrown apart. (Matthew 27:51)

What does this mean?

Symbolically, we can easily draw the conclusion that Christ’s death fulfilled/destroyed the old covenant with the Hebrews and forged a New Covenant with all of mankind. We no longer are separated from God by sin, but conducted directly into the His presence by the cleansing blood of Christ’s sacrifice. When we pray in Jesus’ name, therefore, we should be humble and repenting, but bold to speak our hearts to God, because through His sacrifice of His son our repentance is made effective, and we are justified. We see in Hebrews 10:19,

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Heb 10:19-25 (NIV)

Wow. Powerful, appropriate words from the anonymous author of Hebrews in the late 1st century to the hearts of believers today. May God bless the study and acceptance of His word. Amen.

5 Comments

  1. Hey, I meant to comment about this earlier, but got really busy. You state: “Symbolically, we can easily draw the conclusion that Christ’s death fulfilled/destroyed the old covenant with the Hebrews and forged a New Covenant with all of mankind.”

    How do you reconcile that with Romans 11 (particularly 11-32, with special emphasis on 29) and also Matthew 5:17?

  2. God made promises to the patriarchs about their offspring, about the people whose forefathers they would become. Those promises are irrevocable.

    The way I read what Paul is saying in the passage you noted in Romans, he believes that Israel will get a “second chance” when it comes time for Christ to judge the earth. They can either acknowledge him, or die. For us gentiles, this doesn’t look all that different from the choice we’re given prior to that day. Remember, every knee will bend, either now in worship or that day.

    I could be wrong about my interpretation there, of course. There are just as many protestants that would say the Jews are no different than the rest of us in their need for Jesus as savior, and that the same “rules” apply to them. Bow now or later, but you -will- bend knee.

    Matthew 5:17-20 is awesome. Christ is sitting on a rock or stump and teaching on this mountain, and is about to take apart piece by piece the various additions and expansions of the Mosaic Law/Covenant added by the Pharisees over the centuries. What you have to understand here is that Jesus literally IS the fulfillment of Mosaic law. Sin invokes God’s wrath. God’s wrath requires satisfaction. For centuries, he provided ritual sacrifice as a method for satisfying that wrath… but when he sent Jesus, he did so like Abraham taking Issac up onto the mountain. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, and was so for all of mankind. God thus satisfied his wrath against sin by sending the Son here to be the fulfillment of the old covenant.

    Now, Jesus is saying that not one jot or iota of God’s law will pass away before “everything is accomplished,” which can only refer to final judgment. Lets step back and look at what God’s law actually IS for a moment.

    When God created the world, it was perfect. When he created mankind, WE were perfect. And how could they not be, when his will is perfect? God gave Adam and Eve the earth, some instructions of what to do and what NOT to do, and thus we see him giving them free will to disobey should they so choose. Things go well for a while until Satan introduces the idea that man could be like God, full of the knowledge of good and evil, by eating of the fruit of that tree. Man sins, and introduces the sickness that infects us all into the world. Sin is deviance from God’s perfect will.

    So, the law, really, is a re-explanation of God’s will. God has given us a second chance, basically, “Since you missed it and messed it up the first time, here it is in black & white. Ignore it at your peril.” So, Jesus’ words here saying that not one bit of God’s will for us will pass away until it is all accomplished is, well, perfectly understandable. Of course God’s will isn’t going to simply go away just because Jesus is here to give us the gift of his life to absolve us of guilt for our sins, past, present and future. It is our duty to live God’s will as best we can discern it. Thus, not one iota of God’s law will pass away until the final judgment and re-creation of the world with the Lamb of God on his eternal throne.

    Remember, Jesus himself called his death and resurrection the “new covenant” at the last supper. Hebrews 8:13 says, “By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.” Whether that means the old covenant has passed away yet or not I don’t think we are really told outright. It is, however, implied that this old covenant is insufficient. (“7 For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another.
    Heb 8:7 (NIV)”)

    Hope this at least explains where I’m coming from in saying that Jesus fulfilled and as far as I can read, destroyed, the old covenant of sacrifice to satisfy God’s wrath against sin. This is, of course, my belief and as such could be woefully ignorant of some detail or bit of scripture. I am, however, persuaded that when Jesus said that no one would come to the Father except through him, he was talking about this. His covenant is superior, as the author of Hebrews says.

  3. Oh, I couldn’t agree more that the New Covenant is infinitely superior to the old one, I have just always heard that Christ came to fulfill the old covenant, not destroy it. I’ll have to do more study in order to continue in this discussion, but I wanted to throw out a couple of things first.

    These are only questions, I don’t have the answers, and maybe it isn’t worth focusing too much on them, so feel free to bow out at any time here.

    I always hesitate to ascribe a certain time interval to the word “soon”. Christ himself says that he will be returning in the second coming “soon”, as does Paul, I believe. And though you can make a case for the destruction of the Temple in ~70AD as an end to the world (the Jews viewed the Temple as a micro-cosmos symbolizing the heavens and the earth) and an ultimate judgement on the Jewish religion, I think it is clear that the Apostles believed that they would not die before Christ came again.

    Also, I believe Romans 11:11-24 is pretty clear that Christ’s covenant doesn’t cut out the root of the olive tree, but is a “shoot from the stump of Jesse”(Is 11:1) and that we gentiles are then grafted into that olive branch.

    This may not be related, but Paul several times in Romans says the phrase: “first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” Which, at least to me, indicates that there is a pride of place for the Jews as they were the original children of the Promise. But if God had severed all ties with them, then why would they be first?

    The final question I wanted to raise is when Paul says that the old will pass away, does that mean that God will actively destroy it, or that if there is no one left who lives under it that it will simply not apply to anyone?

    The way I have always understood salvation history is that God, starting with the family unit, offered (through new covenants) a relationship to more and more people (household, tribe, nation, kingdom, world). And though the final covenant was infinitely superior (it opened up salvation to the whole world AND instead of simply being “God’s people” we became His sons and daughters (1 John 3:1) – it also had the benefit of opening up, as an inheritance, life everlasting in Heaven) it wasn’t a break from the old covenant, but rather Christ in the same moment took all the curses of the old law upon Himself and established a new law of Grace through His blood.

    I don’t know. I don’t have really well thought out answers to any of these questions, and if you don’t want to pursue this topic, that’s totally fine. I just wanted to open a brief discussion because understanding where we come from can be important.

    God Bless,
    Bob

  4. Yeah, I think we’re both about the same place in understanding exactly what covenants God still honors, how they work and what his will is in that regard. It’s blindingly confusing, isn’t it!

    The way I understand what Paul is saying in Romans 11:17-24, we should of course not forget or disdain the old covenant, the law that required sacrifice for our sins, because it is that covenant that Christ fulfilled in bring Grace to mankind. In understanding that covenant we can partially answer the question “Why did Christ have to die?” (The other answer is harder: because God willed it.)

    I have a hard time understanding Paul mentioning “First Jews, then Gentiles” as well, but remember that Jesus even told his disciples to teach first the Jews, and when that mission was exhausted to expand to other peoples:

    “5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. 6 Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. 7 As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

    Matt 10:5-8 (NIV)”

    “16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

    Matt 28:16-20 (NIV)”

    So we see that even Jesus’ ministry on earth followed this pattern of Jews first, then the rest of us. There was a loving correction of God’s wayward chosen people, followed by an edict to move further abroad.

    The more I think about what I said earlier the more I agree with my first impulse here. It’s not that we as gentiles should become prideful for having been chosen by God to be saved of our sins. Far from it, we’re called on to be humble in that realization. Really, anytime I get prideful about my smarts or my writing ability, I have but to think about the nature of my salvation, that it is nothing I’ve done and nothing I am that caused it, but by God’s whim, his kingly good pleasure, that I am saved. He didn’t see that I’d be a great tool in his hands, or that I have any sort of advantage that any other believer doesn’t. There is utterly nothing I am or do or could possibly be or do that could change my standing before my maker or prompt his saving grace.

    That… is a humbling thought.

  5. Reminds me of that song with the chorus: “Not because of who I am, but because of what you’ve done. Not because of what I’ve done, but because of who You are.”

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