Once again, the Lord has used the book of Hebrews to bless my heart. This book is truly inspiring ... especially so, the more we know about the Old Testament Scriptures, and the culture of that day. I don't claim to be ANY kind of expert on Scripture at all, so please feel free and encouraged to search out anything I say for yourself...
I began reading some of the Old Testament scriptures, having been referred there by something I read in Hebrews (Hebrews 9:3-4). I was reading the section where Aaron's staff "budded", in Numbers 17:1-13, as well as some Scriptures that preceded and followed it. I was struck at how awesome it was, and fearful, for the Jewish people to fall into the hands of the Living God.
Aaron's staff budded (ie. it essentially went from being a lifeless stick, to being fully "alive" not only budding, but blossoming and bearing almonds) as a sign to God's people, some of whom had become rebellious and had begun to grumble and complain against Moses and Aaron. They seemed to feel pretty sure of themselves, and that they were "OK" before God, not needing to follow the direction of Moses and Aaron. They felt confident to come before God with their own "censers" filled with "incense" (like an offering to Him). (Numbers 16:16-18)
If you read that section, it is a pretty harsh recounting of all the anger that God then unleashed on those people for daring to come before Him so defiantly. As I read, I fully understood the feeling of the Israelites when they said to Moses, after all that had transpired:
"We will die! We are lost, we are all lost! Anyone who even comes near the tabernacle of the Lord will die. Are we all going to die?" (Numbers 17:13-13)
The picture presented in this section of Numbers shows clearly that the people were hopeless without Aaron standing between them and the Living God, making "atonement" for them (Numbers 16:47-49).
I know that it is way too easy for me to take my "walk with the Lord" for granted. It's all too natural to get used to the closeness I feel to Jesus, and forget what a HUGE price He paid for that to be possible. We don't just "stumble" into His presence, you know... He grants us access because only He has the right to do that. And we should be forever grateful for that AWESOME gift. Without Him, we'd be in the same position as the Israelites, or more likely even worse... The Israelites had Aaron and the Levitical priests offering sacrifices to "pay" for their sins... Today, priests no longer do that... But Jesus did it "once for all", not offering the blood of an animal, but His own healing, cleansing, amazing blood, free for the asking... What a precious gift.
The following passage in Hebrews brought all my ponderings into clearer focus, and I hope it might encourage you as well:
"Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage on another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:19-25
Because of God's intense love for you, He allowed Jesus' sacrifice of Himself, to make it even remotely possible for you to stand in His presence. Thank You Jesus, for that incredible, awesome gift.