Summary: We are encouraged to come boldly to the throne of grace to obtain mercy, and grace to help in our time of need.
I like Star Trek. The original TV series always started with “To boldly go where no man has gone before.” Of course after all the repeats they ended up going to the same place hundreds of times! This morning I want us to think about a verse which tells us to boldly come. Thankfully it’s not to a strange, distant world inhabited by aliens that want to kill us, but to come home to a loving Saviour who loves us and wants to help us.
4: 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
This verse is based on what the Jewish high-priest did on the Day of Atonement. The throne of grace is a reference to the mercy-seat – the golden lid over the Ark of the Covenant Ex 25:17-22. On the lid were two angels – Cherubim – and there God met with His people and often appeared in the form of a bright cloud over the mercy seat (Lev 16:2) – the Shechinah I will appear in the cloud
34 the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Ex 40
Only the high-priest was permitted to approach the mercy seat and then only once a year. For him to enter safely and to enjoy God’s mercy at least 10 innocent animals had to die (Nu 29:8-11). He was no doubt afraid that, if he got things wrong, he might be struck dead as Korah was (Nu 16:40). In total contrast this verse tells us all to come boldly into God’s glorious presence, but, of course, we can only come in His way and on His terms.
For the needy
This verse was written for people who need help. The world is full of self sufficient people who don’t like to admit their weakness and ask for help. People who drive around for ages rather than admit they are lost and need directions. People who struggle through their lives and work rather than admit they can’t cope. This verse isn’t for people like that, nor is the gospel !
The only people that God can’t help are those, like the Pharisee in the parable, who think they don’t need help! But perhaps today is a time of need for you. If so our text promises some very special help. If, on the other hand, you think that you can live a good enough life on your own then I can only pray that God will show you how much you really need Him.
Christians need help too!
Of course it is not only non-Christians who need to recognise that they need help. Churches are full of self-sufficient people. People who think they have arrived and are so much better than everyone else. Preachers who think that we can prepare and deliver sermons without God’s help. And we all think we could run the Church better! We behave as though we can live our lives without help even though, If challenged, most of us would deny it! God says:
Rev 3:17 “you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ –and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked
What could be more foolish than for a Christian to think that, having been saved by God’s mercy we don’t need His help every day!
Gal 3:3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?
Zec 4:6 This is the word of the LORD … ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the LORD of hosts.
To whom do we go for help?
People who need help seek it in all sorts of places. They turn to family, friends, doctors, social workers or to church leaders. It’s crucial to seek help in the right place. You want someone who is sympathetic, but whose judgement is reliable. You can ask me for advice about many things – from Star Trek to computer problems, but there isn’t much point asking me about any tax problems!
If you want help with the really big issues – life and death stuff – can you safely turn to Jesus? What are His qualifications? As we have already seen He is:
• The creator – this reminds me of His immense power, but also that He understands His creation inside out – He has the right expertise to help us.
• The all knowing one – He even knows our thoughts so we can’t con Him v 12-13. This is rather scary, but it means that He knows what we need better than we do ourselves!