Holy Place

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
~ Hebrews 4:16

And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.
~ Leviticus 16:2

Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;
~ Hebrews 3:1

Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
~ Hebrews 9:12

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
~ Psalm 51:10

That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
~ Hebrews 6:18

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
~ Hebrews 10:19

A Commentary on Hebrews 10:19-23, by John Owen. The following contains an excerpt from his work.

Verses 19-23

῎Εχοντες ου῏ν , ἀδελφοί , παῤῥησίαν εἰς τὴν εἴ῞σοδον τῶν ἁγίων ἐν τῷ αἵματι ᾿Ιησοῦ , ἣν ἐνεκαίνισεν ἡμῖν ὁδὸν πρόσφατον καὶ ζῶσαν , διὰ τοῦ καταπετάσματος , τοῦτ᾿ ἔστι τὴς σαρκὸς αὐτοῦ , καὶ ἰερέα μέγαν ἐπὶ τὸν οι῏κον τοῦ Θεοῦ , προσερχώμεθα μετὰ ἀληθινῆ ; καρδίας ἐν πληροφορίᾳ πίστεως , ἐῤῥαντισμένοι τὰς καρδίας ἀπὸ συνειδήσεως πονηρᾶς· καὶ λελουμένοι τὸ σῶμα ὕδατι καθαρῷ , κατέχωμεν τὴν ὁμολογίαν τῆς ἐλπίδος ἀκλινῆ· ( πιστὸς γὰρ ὁ ἐπαγγειλάμενος .)

Hebrews 10:19-23. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and ( having ) an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of ( our ) faith without wavering: (for he ( is ) faithful that promised.)

1. The apostle repeats his obliging compellation, “Brethren.” And herein he hath a peculiar respect unto those among the Hebrews who had received the gospel in sincerity. For although there was a natural brotherhood between him and the whole people of Israel, and they were always wont to call themselves, “brethren” in general, on the account of their original stock and separation from the rest of the world, as Acts 28:21, yet this word and name is used by the apostle on the account of that spiritual relation which was between them “which believe in God through Jesus Christ.” See Hebrews 3:1, and the exposition of it. And the apostle by the use of it here testifies unto two things:

(1.) That although they had not as yet a full understanding of the nature and use of all legal institutions and sacrifices, nor of their abolishing by the coming of Christ, and the discharge of his office, yet this had not forfeited their interest in the heavenly calling; on account whereof he dealt with them as with brethren.

(2.) That this difference, so far as it had yet continued, had no way alienated his mind and affections from them, though he knew how great their mistake was, and what danger, even of eternal ruin, it exposed them unto. Hereby were the minds of those Hebrews secured from prejudice against his person and his doctrine, and inclined unto a compliance with his exhortation. Had he called them heretics and schismatics, and I know not what other names of reproach, which are the terms in use upon the like occasions amongst us, he had, in all probability, turned that which was lame quite out of the way. But he had another Spirit, was under another conduct of wisdom and grace, than most men are now acquainted withal.

Obs. 1. It is not every mistake, every error, though it be in things of great importance, while it overthrows not the foundation, that can divest men of a fraternal interest with others in the heavenly calling.

2. There is a note of inference from the preceding discourse, declaring it the ground of the present exhortation; ου῏ν , “therefore:” ‘Seeing that these things are now made manifest unto you, seeing it is so evidently testified unto that the old covenant, sacrifices, and worship, could not make us perfect, nor give us an access unto God, whereon they are removed and taken away, which the Scripture fully testifies unto; and seeing all this is effected or accomplished in the office and by the sacrifice of Christ, which they could not effect, and privileges are thereon granted unto believers which they were not before made partakers of; let us make use of them unto the glory of God and our own salvation, in the duties which they necessarily require.’And we may observe, that the apostle applies this inference from his discourse unto the use and improvement of the liberty and privileges granted unto us in Christ, with the holy worship belonging thereunto, as we shall see in opening of the words, Howbeit there is another conclusion implied in the words, though not expressed by him; and this is, that they should cease and give over their attendance unto the legal worship and sacrifices, as those which now were altogether useless, being indeed abolished. This is the principal design of the apostle in the whole epistle, namely, to call off the believing Hebrews from all adherence unto and conjunction in Mosaical institutions; for he knew the danger, both spiritual and temporal, which would accompany and arise from such an adherence. For,

(1.) It would insensibly weaken their faith in Christ, and give them a disregard of evangelical worship; which did indeed prove unto many of them a cause of that apostasy and final destruction which he so frequently warns them against.

(2.) Whereas God had determined now speedily to put an utter end unto the city, temple, and all its worship, by a universal desolation, for the sins of the people, if they did obstinately adhere unto the observance of that worship, it was justly to be feared that they would perish in that destruction that was approaching; which probably many of them did. To instruct-them in that light and knowledge of the truth that might deliver them from these evils, was the first design of the apostle in the doctrinal part of this epistle: yet doth he not plainly and in terms express it anywhere in this epistle, not even in this place, where it was most properly and naturally to be introduced; yet he doth that which evidently includes it, namely, exhort them unto those duties which, on the principles he hath declared, are utterly inconsistent with Mosaical worship, and this is, our free entrance into the holiest by the blood of Jesus. For an entrance, in any sense, with our worship into the most holy place, is inconsistent with, and destructive of all Mosaical institutions. And this was an effect of the singular wisdom wherewith the apostle was furnished to write this epistle. For had he directly and in terms opposed their observation, no small tumult and outcry would have been made against it, and great provocation had been given unto the unbelieving Jews. But, notwithstanding, he doth the same thing no less effectually in these words, wherein there is scarce a word which that application of his discourse doth not follow upon. And his wisdom herein ought to be an instructive example unto all those that are called unto the instruction of others in the dispensation of the gospel, especially such as through any mistakes do oppose themselves unto the truth. Such things as will give exasperation unto the spirits, or advantage unto the temptations of men, ought to be avoided, or treated on with that wisdom, gentleness, and meekness, as may be no prejudice unto them. This way of procedure doth the same apostle expressly prescribe unto all ministers of the gospel, 2 Timothy 2:23-26.

3. There is in the words the privilege which is the foundation of the duty exhorted unto: “Having therefore boldness to enter into the holiest,” for a regular entrance into or of the most holy. The privilege intended is directly opposed unto the state of things under the law; and from the consideration of it is the nature of it to be learned. For the entrance into the holiest, in the tabernacle, belonged unto the worship of the church, it was the principal part thereof; but it had many imperfections attending it:

(1.) It was not into the special presence of God, but only into a place made with hands, filled with some representations of things that could not be seen.

(2.) None might ever enter into it but the high priest alone, and that only once a-year.

(3.) The body of the people, the whole congregation, were therefore jointly and severally utterly excluded from any entrance into it.

(4.) The prohibition of entrance into this holy place belonged unto that bondage wherein they were kept under the law, which hath been before declared.

The privilege here mentioned being opposed to this state of things among them, which respected their present worship, it is certain that it doth concern the present worship of God by Christ under the gospel. And they are therefore utterly mistaken who suppose the entrance into the most holy to be an entrance into heaven after this life for all believers; for the apostle doth not here oppose the glorious state of heaven unto the church of the Hebrews and their legal services, but the privileges of the gospel-state and worship only. Nor would it have been to his purpose so to have done; for the Hebrews might have said, that although the glory of heaven after this life doth exceed the glories of the services of the tabernacle, which none ever questioned, yet the benefit, use, and efficacy of their present ordinances and worship might be more excellent than any thing that they could obtain by the gospel. Neither were believers then also excluded from heaven after death, any more than now. Therefore the privilege mentioned is that which belongs unto the gospel church in its perfect state in this world. And the exercise and use of it doth consist in our drawing nigh unto God in holy services and worship through Christ, as the apostle declares, verse 22.

There is, then, a twofold opposition in these words unto the state of the people under the law:

(1.) As unto the spirit and frame of mind in the worshippers; and,

(2.) As unto the place of the worship, from whence they were excluded, and whereunto we are admitted.

(1.) The first is in the word παῤῥησίαν , “boldness.” There were two things with respect unto those worshippers in this matter:

(1.) A legal prohibition from entering into the holy place; whereon they had no liberty or freedom so to do, because they were forbidden on several penalties;

(2.) Dread and fear, which deprived them of all boldness or holy confidence in their approaches unto God: therefore the apostle expresseth the contrary frame of believers under the new testament by a word that signifieth both liberty, or freedom from any prohibition, and boldness with confidence in the exercise of that liberty. I have spoken before of the various use and signification of this word παῤῥησία , which the apostle both in this and other epistles useth frequently to express both the right, and liberty, and confidence, unto and in their access unto God, of believers under the new testament, in opposition to the state of them under the old. We have a right unto it, we have liberty without restraint by any prohibition, we have confidence and assurance without dread or fear.

(2.) This liberty we have εἰς τὴν εἴσοδον , προσαγωγή , “aditus,” “introitus,” τῶν ἁγίων , that is, the true sanctuary, the holy place not made with hands; the immediate gracious presence of God himself in Christ Jesus. See Hebrews 9:11-12. Whatever was typically represented in the most holy place of old, we have access unto; that is, unto God himself we have an access in one Spirit by Christ

Obs. 2. This is the great fundamental privilege of the gospel, that believers, in all their holy worship, have liberty, boldness, and confidence, to enter with it and by it into the gracious presence of God.

(1.) They are not hindered by any prohibition. God set bounds unto mount Sinai, that none should pass or break through into his presence in the giving of the law. He hath set none to mount Zion, but all believers have right, title, and liberty to approach unto him, even unto his throne. There is no such order now, that he who draws nigh shall be cut off; but on the contrary, that he that doth not so do shall be destroyed.

(2.) Hence there is no dread, fear, or terror in their minds, hearts, or consciences, when they make their approaches unto God. This was a consequent of the same interdict of the law, which is now taken away. They have not received the spirit of bondage unto fear, but the Spirit of the Son, whereby with holy boldness they cry, “Abba, Father;” for “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,” they have freedom unto, and confidence in their duties: and therein consists the greatest evidence of our interest in the gospel and privileges thereof.

(3.) The nature of gospel worship consists in this, that it is an entrance with boldness into the presence of God. However men may multiply duties, of what sort or nature soever they be, if they design not in and by them to enter into the presence of God, if they have not some experience that so they do, if they are taken up with other thoughts, and rest in the outward performance of them, they belong not unto evangelical worship. The only exercise of faith in them is in an entrance into the presence of God.

(4.) Our approach unto God in gospel worship, is unto him as evidencing himself in a way of grace and mercy. Hence it is said to be an “entrance into the holiest;” for in the holy place were all the pledges and tokens of God’s grace and favor, as we have manifested upon the foregoing chapter. And as the taking off of the old prohibition gives us liberty, and the institution of the worship of the gospel gives us title unto this privilege, so the consideration of the nature of that presence of God whereunto we approach gives us boldness thereunto.