Tuesday, April 21, 2009

We may now draw near

The dispensation of the old covenant was that of distance. When God appeared even to his servant Moses, it was, “Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet;” and when he manifested himself upon Mount Sinai to his own chosen and separated people, one of the first commands was, “Thou shalt set bounds about the mount, and if so much as a beast touch the mountain it shall be stoned or thrust through with a dart.” In the sacred worship of the tabernacle and the temple the thought of distance must always have been prominent to the devout mind. The mass of the people did not even enter the outer court. Into the inner court none but the priests could ever dare to come; while into the innermost place, or the holy of holies, but once a year one person only ever entered. A thick costly veil hung before the manifestation of Jehovah’s presence, and upon the Shekinah no mortal eye ever gazed, except that eye which once a year alone dared to look upon its splendor through the mist of the smoking incense, when the blood of atonement was sprinkled on the mercy seat.

The Lord seemed ever to be saying to the whole of his people, with but a few exceptions, “Come not nigh hither.” It was the dispensation of distance; as if the Lord in those early ages would teach man that sin was so utterly loathsome to him that he must treat men as lepers put without the camp, and when he came nearest to them yet made them feel the width of the separation between a holy God and the impure sinner.

But Jesus Christ came on quite another footing. The word “Go” was now exchanged for “Come,” and distance was made to give place to nearness; partitions were broken down, middle walls of separation became like tottering fences, and we who sometime were afar off were made nigh by the blood of Jesus Christ.

From a sermon entitled "Open House For All Comers," delivered December 17, 1865. Image by Andrew Larsen under Creative Commons License.

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