Entering God's Presence
As children of God, we have permission to enter the presence of our heavenly Father. In the Old Testament, the children of Israel could not enter God’s presence themselves, but their representative, the high priest, could come into God’s presence once a year to submit an offering to cover the sins of the people. The Israelites who left Egypt had a structure in the middle of their camp called the tabernacle, which was where the presence of God came down. The tabernacle was built according to God’s instructions- a portable fenced enclosure with a tent located inside it. As you entered the fenced area, you were in the Outer Court, where people came and brought their offerings before the Lord. Upon entering the actual tent, the first area was called the Holy Place, which was where the priests ministered daily. Going further into the tabernacle, past a extremely thick veil, the high priest annually entered what was called the Holy of Holies, or the Most Holy Place. This part of the tent structure housed the ark of the covenant, covered with an ornate lid called the mercy seat. Upon the mercy seat is where the presence of God appeared. So, in the tabernacle, there were three locations: the Outer Court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies. And it was in that order that one approached the presence of God.
Today, as born-again believers, because Jesus shed His own blood to wash away our sins, we can now enter God’s presence ourselves. However, the tabernacle serves as a pattern for us in entering the presence of God. First the Outer Court, then the Holy Place, then the Holy of Holies.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations. Psalm 100:4-5 (NKJV)
The first step is to give thanks to God. This speaks of the Outer Court of the tabernacle. We express our thanks to the Lord, which is the natural response to His goodness, and it initiates our passage into His presence. As we express our thanks to God, we can move into the next phase or step, which is praise. This corresponds with the Holy Place of the tabernacle. We celebrate what God has done, what he is doing and will do. This takes us even closer to Him. This then prepares our hearts for worship. Worship takes us into the Holy of Holies, where we experience God’s presence. As we worship God for who He is, we enter His presence and experience His glory, which is His goodness expressed to us. This intimate and moving experience with Him prompts a response in us, and we continue to worship Him, going deeper and gaining new insight and revelation of who God is and of His love for us. True worship is a cycle of God expressing His wonderful goodness to us, and us responding with love and adoration.
So, we go from thanksgiving (Outer Court), to praise (Holy Place) to worship (Holy of Holies) where we can linger in the presence of the Lord. And that is our ultimate goal and purpose, to be with the Lord and enjoy Him.
You will show me the path that leads to life; your presence fills me with joy and brings me pleasure forever. Psalm 16:11 (Good News Translation, GNT)
To read about the tabernacle of Moses for yourself, you can begin in Exodus 25.