Imagine receiving an envelope in your mailbox.
I’m talking about your real mailbox, not the icon on your smartphone
At first glance it’s unlike any letter you have ever received. Turning the envelope over you see a very official looking seal. Perhaps it even has a faint aroma…something royal. You read the following return address: Westminster, London SW1A 1AA, UK
What in the world? The postage mark on the unusual stamp is London, England. Curiosity drives you to carefully open the envelope right there on the street corner. Inside is another, more elaborate envelope with an invitation card like none you have seen. Trembling with anticipation you read: “Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, invites you to a private audience with Her Royal highness including an informal afternoon tea.”
This isn’t the formal high tea served in the evening on a high table with a hot meal. No, this will be time with just you and the Queen, for the purpose of getting to know one another.
I think it would be wonderful. I would say yes immediately and start looking up ticket prices to Heathrow. But I’m not holding my breath. It will never happen, and what I get in the mail these days looks more like a bill or an ad. But honestly, what if? It would make me tremble just to think about it.
After all. Who am I? Just an ordinary guy living in Central Oregon. I wouldn’t know how to act in the presence of royalty. Is it appropriate to wipe my lips on the royal napkin? What if I choked on a scone or spilled my tea. And for that matter, what could we possibly talk about?
But maybe you know where I’m going with this.
There is a royal invitation. With my name on it. It’s waiting for me to open and accept every morning and every minute of every day. This invitation doesn’t come from the Queen of England. No! It comes from the High King of the entire universe. The Lord of angel armies. And when I think about it, if think long and clearly enough, it makes me tremble. If I am unworthy to spend personal time with the House of Windsor, how much more with the living God?
I invite you to read over my shoulder as I open this unparalleled invitation. After all, it has your name on it, too.
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 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. (Hebrews 10:19-22, niv)
In last week’s blog, Moses was restrained from entering the tabernacle by the cloud of God’s glory. Inside the tent a thick curtain separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. Only the high priest dared enter the Most Holy Place or Holy of Holies—and that was just once a year on the Day of Atonement when he offered the blood of sacrificial animals for his own sins and also for the sins of his people. To make one minor mistake meant immediate death. Can you imagine the fear and intimidation the high priest experienced? There would have been no cocky, self-confidence performing this annual ministry.
Not so today. The author of Hebrews writes about ordinary people like you and me having confidence to enter “the Most Holy Place.” You and I have been invited into the very presence of the holy God. We are not trusting in the blood of an innocent animal but in the blood of Jesus Christ, the true Lamb of God, that was sacrificed once for all time for sinners just like us.
When Jesus died on the cross the evidential proof that this invitation is sincere was the ripping open of the curtain separating the two holy places in the temple. No longer do we need to depend on a human priest to present a sacrifice that satisfies God’s just wrath over our sins. Jesus is our high priest today. He is our Mediator and Advocate before the transcendent, holy God and invites us to come boldly, drawing “near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.”
Paul wrote, “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence” (Ephesians 3:12, niv) Consider that for a moment. We—you and I—can approach God with confidence!
John affirms, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 Jn. 5:13-15, niv). Trusting in Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension we can know we already enjoy eternal life and we can approach God with confidence, daring to speak with our heavenly Father.
Greg Morris, on the June 3, 2018 Desiring God Website wrote, “The question can never be, ‘Who are you to go God in prayer?’ The question now is, ‘Who are you to stay away when the King has invited you?’”
We are who God says we are in Christ. We have been chosen and are now His children—no longer orphans.
So why not open that envelope, sealed with the blood of Jesus, and accept the invitation to enjoy time in the presence of the King of Kings? Don’t worry about spilling tea or getting the napkin dirty.
Come just as you are, in Christ.