The Way into the Holiest
James Smith, 1860
The holiest represented heaven.
Here was the mercy-seat, or God's throne of grace, made of the most durable wood, covered with gold, and sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice — because his mercy endures forever.
Here were the cherubim, the symbols of redemption, representing glorified humanity, as pure as the purest gold, one with Christ the mercy-seat, looking intently on the blood, and brought as near to God as they could be. For here was the Shekinah glory, the visible symbol of the divine presence, between the cherubim, and over the mercy-seat.
Here also in the ark was the stone tables of the covenant, the rod of the priest, and the pot of manna. Here were the signs — in heaven are the things signified. There is divine and uncreated light, perfect purity, sweetest fragrance, unsearchable riches, high dignity, the perpetual presence of God, and eternal redemption. O glorious place! O blessed residence of God and his saints!
There we shall see mercy extolled, the atonement honored, the church exalted, the covenant confirmed, the priesthood illustrated — and enjoyment of the holy and gracious presence of God forever. There we shall remember the wilderness through which we are now passing, and the food with which we are supplied. There we shall realize and enjoy perfect purity, perpetual peace, and everlasting pleasure.
The way into the holiest — is Jesus. Himself said, "I am the way, no man comes unto the Father — but by me." By his own blood he entered, and left the way open for us. That is, by his perfect work — embracing his office as a priest, his obedience to the law, and his precious sacrifice. By his death he gave full satisfaction to injured justice, and the violated law — he conferred an honor on the government of God, and pleased his Father. Therefore, at his death, the veil of the temple was rent in twain, from the top to the bottom, and the way into the holiest was made plain — it is through Jesus, and Jesus alone. What he did, what he suffered, what he merited — constitutes the way.
And this way is short — only believe; it is pleasant, it is free, and it is a living way. You may enter it without a noble character, or recommendation, or payment; you may enter it without fear, for nothing can harm you; and you may enter it without delay, for it is open and ready for you. Let us then draw near, let us come boldly, let us enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.
The way was obscurely revealed under the law, it could be discovered — but not easily; but now it must be seen, for there is no obscurity, and therefore it is said, that the wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein.
Heaven is the object at which we should aim. There is rest, peace and plenty. There are saints, angels, and God himself. There we shall see all we wish for, know all we can desire, and possess all we can enjoy. The way to heaven is now clear and plain — Jesus is the way. Come to Jesus. Trust in Jesus. Walk with Jesus. Obey the words of Jesus. Copy the example of Jesus. Do this — and heaven is certain, a place in the holiest is sure.
But there is no excuse, if we attempt to get to heaven in any other way, for the way into the holiest is now made manifest. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done," but by what Jesus has done. Not by our doings — but of God's grace, through Jesus alone, can we obtain a title to, or acquire a fitness for, the holiest of all. Rest not then on your works, or on your feelings — but rest on Christ alone. For, as the road bears the entire weight of the person who travels on it, from the first step, until the end is reached; just so, must we rest the entire weight of our salvation on Christ, from first to last.
Stay not, reader, in the outer court with the people, or in the holy place with the common priests — but enter into the holiest where Jesus is. Enter it now by faith. Enter it now for communion and fellowship. Enter it now daily, yes, as often as you need solace, support, or help. And so at death, you will enter it sensibly; enter it to enjoy fuller, deeper, sweeter fellowship; enter it to remain while Jesus remains, and to enjoy what Jesus enjoys. There is no heaven — but where God reigns in glory; there is no way to that house — but by faith in the person and finished work of Jesus; and no one believing in Jesus, resting on Jesus, and aiming to glorify Jesus, can possibly miss of arriving at that heaven! "Whoever believes in him — has everlasting life."