In the book of Hebrews, we learn several facets of Jesus’ high priesthood which make the New Covenant vastly better than the Old Covenant. In Hebrews 9:1-10:18, the author zeroes in on the superiority of His sacrifice over the Old Covenant animal sacrifices. One key point of this section, and really the whole letter, is the access we are granted to God. In Hebrews 9:1-10, we catch a glimpse of what the tabernacle ritual looked like. The fancy furnishings certainly point up the value of the services rendered. The attention to detail when Moses was given the pattern for the tabernacle should impress upon anyone the gravity of the situation. Truly, the tabernacle was a central part of life in Israel. It was an important part of their relationship to God. It was the place where the people came to commune with God, yet their access was very limited.
Only the priests could enter the tabernacle itself to perform the service they were given; the average Israelite would never set foot in the Holy Place or the Most Holy Place (Heb. 9:6; Num. 1:51; 18:21-22). They could only stand in the outer court and perhaps catch a glimpse of the first section when the priests walked into the tabernacle. As for the Most Holy Place, even the priests who labored everyday in the Holy Place would never in their lives step foot in the inner sanctuary. This privilege belonged only to the high priest (Heb. 9:7; Lev. 16:11-16). Furthermore, his access was limited to once a year, and that with many requirements for entry (Heb. 9:7; Lev. 16:2ff).
When Jesus came to earth, sacrificed Himself on the cross, rose from the grave, and rejoined the Father in heaven, He granted free access to us all. This notion is first stated in Hebrews 4:14-16 about His high priesthood. Notice in verse 16 the exhortation is that we “come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” This thought is paralleled in Hebrews 10:19-22 as we have boldness to enter the Holiest of All and draw near in full assurance of faith. This is in stark contrast to the old system where even the high priest didn’t dare come into the presence of God just anytime he saw fit and most certainly not with confidence or boldness. As long as the old system was valid, “…the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing” (Heb. 9:8).
When Jesus died on the cross, “…the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom…” (Mt. 27:51). Its being torn top to bottom made it abundantly clear it was God who tore it, not man. The significance of the veil being torn is it represented God granting access to Himself on the basis of Christ’s sacrifice. Now we, as a kingdom of priests (1 Pt. 2:4, 9) are privileged to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through our great High Priest, Jesus Christ. We have greater access to God than anyone who ever lived under the Old Covenant since the fall in the garden. We are now authorized personnel, if we are in Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:26-27).