Keeping God at Arm’s Length (Life Journal – 7/13/2015)


19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:19-25 NRSV)


  • Admonition to draw near to God because: (i) confidence in the way opened by Jesus AND (ii) Jesus is our great priest
  • Hope is grounded in God’s faithfulness
  • The application of vss. 19-22 is to: (i) spur one another to love and good deeds, (ii) meeting together, and (iii) encouraging one another in our meeting together


Hebrews argues from the sacrificial and worship system of the old covenant (Exodus, etc.) for the supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus who is both sacrifice and priest and that eternally. The imagery here is that Jesus’ body is the curtain (i.e., the curtain of the temple that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple and that could only be passed once a year by the high priest).

If Jesus’ body is gone, so is the curtain. The way is open (vs. 20)… our ability to see into the presence of God is no longer obscured or hindered. What had been hidden is now seen. What had been limited and restricted is now, through Christ, open to all.

Why are we so reticent to “draw near to God?” We tend to keep God at a safe distance, like a wealthy, powerful relative whom we only call when we are in great need. And can’t think of anyone else to call!

God in Christ invites us to draw near. The guilt that might keep us away has been erased in Christ – do we believe that? Or do we treat – as I often do – God’s grace as something that lets me access God on sufferance. God is just enough satisfied by Christ’s offering to let me come close but only just.

NO – we are told to draw near with a sincere heart and with assurance. Let’s do that today!


O God of Jesus the Great Priest, by Jesus may I draw near to you today. May I come with assurance – not that I am favored or special but that Jesus has opened the way and removed the obstacles. May I come to you in that unswerving hope that grounds itself in your faithfulness. Amen.

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