In the traveling tabernacle and in the temple in Jerusalem, the Holy of Holies housed the ark of the covenant, which contained the tablets containing the ten commandments. On top of the ark was the mercy seat, where God resided and could be present to His people. That was the entire purpose of the structure. Exodus 25:8 - "Have them make me a sanctuary so that I can dwell among them." Yahweh was determined to be in relationship with His special people.
Since humans continually sin, fellowship with God required a means of access which could deal with that sin, because sin kept them from God. Thus, the development of the Day of Atonement, which held holiness law and ritual cleanliness so that people could be present with God throughout the year. (The priests' activities that day was substitionary for this possibility of the rest of the people.) Various holiness laws kept people conscious of the holy. Ritual cleanliness was an examination of the heart and its motives. Only a specially selected priest could participate and dare enter God's presence.
The use of the word "ark" has interesting overtones. Noah's "ark" was a sanctuary from the ravages of the sin of his day. The ark of the Temple housed the ten commandments which were a way to be rescued from sin with a set of behaviors (or behavior avoidance). The New Covenant, though, would reveal how God makes final provision for escaping sin and its consequences - so that we can be restored to him in a deep way.
Jesus' death served as the final and most powerful blood sacrifice, atoning for all of humanity, for all time, once for all, making a way into the presence of God. Its symbolism was seen in the tearing of the tapestry into the Holy of Holies on the day that Jesus died. Now there would be complete accessibility. This allows for a new people to enter the presence of God, not by a set of behaviors, but by a belief in what Jesus did to make it possible for us to be in this new/right relationship with God.
No longer outsiders, the holy place is now in our "hearts." God-with-us creates a sanctuary of our lives. We now can be conscious of and develop the holy in us every day, living out holiness as justice-seekers by advancing the living and loving God and His kingdom in the name of Jesus Christ, who makes it possible.
You are standing on holy ground because Jesus is present in you. Paul says it best in Ephesians 3:16-19:
Father, out of your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen your people. Fill their soul with the power of your Holy Spirit so that through faith, Jesus Christ the Messiah will reside in their hearts. May love be the rich soil where their lives are founded so that together will all your people they will have the power to understand that the love of Christ, the Anointed one, is infinitely long, wide, high and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God, may your fullness flood their entire being.
What a way to live!
filled (and strengthened) with the Holy Spirit
Jesus residing in my heart
God flooding my entire being.
Truly this is Holy Ground!
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