Saturday, April 23, 2011

Holy Week: The Throne Room of Grace

The Throne Room of Grace


Dear friends,


Today is Saturday of Holy Week, wedged in between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, so I'd like to share with you something that happened after the crucifixion but before the resurrection. I attempted to symbolize it in my 1982 painting "The Throne Room of Grace."  


I will have to give you a little background.  In the Old Testament, the tabernacle and later the temple, had a Most Holy Place blocked by a veil, a heavy curtain from floor to ceiling. Only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place, and he could only do this once a year on Yom Kippur, the sacred Day of Atonement.  There he would offer a solumn sacrifice for the sins of the people.  The Old Testament also foretold a messiah -- the Son of God -- who would be sacrificed for the sins of the people.   Hundreds of years later, in fulfillment of the prophecies, Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) offered himself as a sacrifice for our sins on the cross.  He was both the High Priest and the Sacrifice Lamb.  When he died, the curtain in the temple miraculously tore in two, symbolizing open access to the presence of God in the Most Holy Place for those who believe in the sacrifice. Now we too can enter into the Throne Room of Grace -- every day! Isn't God kind?


You don't see God's throne in my painting; the man, who could be anyone, is on his way in through the heavy ripped curtain of the Temple into the Most Holy Place. I couldn't figure out a way to adequately depict the Glory of God, so I left it to the viewer's imagination what they would see further down the path of the Cross that the man is walking.

Picture with me this scene:  You enter The Most Holy Place, the Throne Room of God, and bow before the Glorious King. Then after he embraces you and places a comforting hand on your head, he hands you this beautifully wrapped package. Inside are his gifts of Mercy and Grace. They aren’t generic brand either! They are specifically designed for your particular needs that very day. Whatever your problem is, there is the solution. Whatever your grief, there is a unique balm of comfort. What’s even better, his door is open whenever you choose to visit, and he has a different care package for you every time you come. All of these benefits can be yours if you trust in sacrifice of Jesus on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins.

Many years ago, while thinking on these truths, this little song came to me...


"Who Is There Like Unto Thee?"

by Virginia Knowles


Who is there like unto Thee, O Lord,
To Thy name give glory!
Full of compassion, righteousness and truth,
Full of strength and power, and clothed in majesty!
And yet on the cross, you were willing to bleed,
And you met us there, in our time of need.
And now at your Throne Room, we may boldly enter in,
To receive grace and mercy again and again!


And then there is the old hymn... 

"Before the Throne of God Above"
by Charitie Bancroft, 1863

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.


When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.


Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace,
One in Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!

Here is a beautiful modern rendition, arranged by my friend Vikki Cook.  It gives me the chills just to listen to it.  (If you are reading this by e-mail or through Google Reader or Facebook, you may have to click on the original blog post and scroll down .)



For those who would like some more of the Biblical background of the veil and the Most Holy Place...

“And you shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. It shall be made with cherubim skillfully worked into it. And you shall hang it on four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold, with hooks of gold, on four bases of silver. And you shall hang the veil from the clasps, and bring the ark of the testimony in there within the veil. And the veil shall separate for you the Holy Place from the Most Holy." Exodus 26:31-33



"Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron's staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing (which is symbolic for the present age).... But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God." From Hebrews 9
Blessings,
Virginia Knowles
www.VirginiaKnowles.blogspot.com

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