Summary: Isaiah is given a vision of God's glory. But what he sees in his vision fills him with terror and despair. Fearing for his life he cries out, "Woe is me! I am ruined!" Yet God is not done with him and Isaiah experiences first hand the mercy of God. H
Beyond the Veil - Isaiah 6 - June 12, 2011
If we were to stand in Jerusalem this morning one of the structures that would certainly draw our attention would be the Islamic mosque known as The Dome of the Rock. It stands in the old city, upon the Temple Mount, and with it’s golden dome it dominates the landscape of Jerusalem by it’s very presence.
It’s been around for a long time. Construction began in the year 689 and was completed in 691. And I want you to think about that for a moment. There’s a lot of history there. Long before Canada was ever a nation; the Dome of the Rock stood. It has endured the crusades, it has survived two world wars and it’s even withstood a few earthquakes. It has been around for a long time, but it will not stand forever.
Today, access to The Dome of the Rock is prohibited to any non-Muslim and even access to the Temple Mount is severely restricted – not just by Muslims but by Jews as well. At the entrance to the Temple Mount you will see this sign, placed by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, which says: “Announcement and Warning: According to the Torah it is forbidden for any person to enter the area of the Temple Mount due to it’s sacredness.”
And the concern of the Chief Rabbinate is this: The Dome of the Rock is built upon holy ground. Long before the Dome was built, there stood, somewhere on that same mount, the Temple of Jesus’ day. That Temple was at the center of Jewish worship. And at the heart of the Temple itself were two rooms separated one from another by a curtain, a veil, that hung down between them. The first room was known as the “Holy Place.” It stood between the altar where the sacrifices were made, and the second room, known as the “Most Holy Place,” or the “Holy of Holies.”
The “Holy of Holies” was a sacred place which no one, save only the High Priest, could enter, and then only once a year, on Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement. He would enter in in order to sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice upon the mercy seat and so make atonement for sins of the people of Israel. It was here, in the Holy of Holies, that the Ark of the Covenant once rested, and therefore it was there, in the Holy of Holies that God dwelt with His people.
And there-in lies the problem. Somewhere on that Temple Mount – no one is quite sure where – is the ground upon which the Holy of Holies once stood. Ground where God dwelt. And because the exact location of the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies is not known, they have ruled the whole Temple Mount off limits for fear of violating the sacred place of God.
In Jesus’ day though, none of this uncertainty existed. The Temple still stood in all it’s glory with it’s curtain, or veil, separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. It’s that very veil which was torn in two, from top to bottom, by the hand of God at the moment that Jesus gave up His spirit upon the cross. (Matthew 27:51) Jesus, whom Scripture calls, our High Priest, has entered in to the Holy of Holies as it were, and made atonement for our sins, not with the blood of bulls as in ages past, but by the shedding of His own blood.
The book of Hebrews explains it this way, saying, When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. (Hebrews 9:11-15)
This is our hope as Christians and this morning I want to take us beyond the veil as it were that we might better understand the mercy of God. To do that I’m going to ask you to turn with me, please, to the book of Isaiah. Isaiah, chapter 6, beginning in verse 1 … Isaiah was one of God’s great prophets. He served the Lord during the reign of four kings, speaking the truth of God, both to them, and to the people of the nation.