Saturday, June 27, 2009

Approaching the Throne of Grace

Despite this being a weekend, my body was in wake-up mode. Last Sunday we were talking in church about being people who spent time with Jesus. When Peter and John came up before the Jewish council, what set them apart from just being uneducated men was the fact that they had spent time with Jesus. Too often, even in my quiet times, I am not spending time with Jesus, but just ticking a mental box somewhere, that I have “done” it.

I was reading the end few verses of Hebrews 4, about Jesus our High Priest, and the confidence with which we can enter the throne room of God. I was reminded of a FW challenge entry I wrote based on how Aaron, the first High Priest, entered into the Most Holy Place.

Into the Most Holy Place

Aaron rolled over, the faint light of dawn seeping through the window. The space where his wife would normally be sleeping was cold and empty and her lingering fragrance was absent. Soon the Day of Atonement would be over and their enforced celibacy would come to an end. Today he would enter the Most Holy Place making a sin offering for the people.

Aaron Phillips rolled over, the shrill siren of the alarm clock drumming through his head. Rubbing his forehead, he tried to massage away the beginnings of a headache. He couldn't remember how many bottles of beer he had drank last night. Sighing, he rolled on to his stomach. Getting up on a Sunday always seemed to be such a battle. He tried to remember last week's sermon - just in case the pastor asked!

Aaron stood in the sanctuary, a bowl of clean cold water beside him on the floor. The water against his skin felt refreshing. As he washed every area of his body he reminded himself that he belonged wholly to God. Reaching over, he carefully stepped into the linen clothes, inhaling their freshness. He tied the linen sash about his waist, and patiently wound the turban around his head. He flexed his shoulders, ready for the burden of the ephod.

The shower sprayed hot water in a power jet against Aaron's skin. He lathered a palm full of shower gel into a white froth and smothered his chest arms. He hummed tunelessly, trying to remember the songs from the live band that had been playing last night in the club. Wrapped in a towel, he opened the wardrobe door, flicking his way through the hangers. The dark blue weave of his suit would best highlight the blue flecks of his hazel eyes.

The bull stood patient and placid as Aaron ran his fingers down its legs, checking that there were no imperfections. He could feel the strength of its muscles beneath the hide. He imagined the swift slash of the sharp knife against the bull's throat, the warm rush of blood spilling over his fingers and gushing into the bowl. The ram was less placid ,rather skittish, shuffling about on its hooves and Aaron knew that it would take a lot of his strength to hold it still.

Aaron upturned the cushions on the sofa searching for his Bible. A glass of orange juice held at a hazardous angle drizzled a sticky trail down green leather. He yelled to his wife, asking her if she had seen his Bible anywhere. He pulled books from the bookcase selecting the ones with likely looking spines - anything with black leather and gold writing. Suddenly Aaron remembered that the Bible was probably still in the boot of the car, nestled up against his tool kit.

Aaron walked towards the entrance of the most Holy Place. Lighting the incense in the basket, he watched a cloudy mass fill the place where he stood, and twitched his nose at the strong fragrance. It was essential that he wait long enough for the smoke to fill the room before he entered. Aaron knew well enough that no amount of smoke could hide him from the awesome God, but the smoke was there to remind him that he could not look upon the face of the Almighty God and live. Just before he stepped into the smoke filled room, Aaron checked the rope tied about his ankle. If anything were to go wrong, and God found cause to destroy him, at least his body could be pulled out of the room. Aaron felt his heart shiver fearfully as he entered into the Most Holy Place to an encounter with the Living God.

Aaron pulled neatly into the last car parking space outside the church. He dismissed the thought that he aught to show consideration to the couple following behind him. He didn't recognise them and thought they must be visitors. Aaron glanced at his watch, calculating the possible timing of the meeting, hoping he would be home for the start of the game. He ran his hand over the gleaming red bonnet of his car, thinking it might be an idea to take it over the car wash later this afternoon. There was a slight chill in the air and Aaron shivered as he opened the church door. He never entered the Most Holy Place and missed an encounter with the Living God.

(I am glad that we don't need to enter God's presence the way that Aaron, the High Priest, had to. But neither should we enter with the mind-set of my character Aaron Philips)

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