I have sometimes wondered what the Old Testament high priest was thinking when he woke up the morning of the Day of Atonement. He had to be excited seeing what a special day it was. It was the only day of the year that he could enter the Holy of Holies in the temple. And he was the only person who could enter it! One man – one day a year. It had to be one of the most highly restricted areas in the history of the world.
There was only one object in the Holy of Holies – the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark symbolized the presence of God. By so severely restricting access to the Holy of Holies God was teaching a valuable lesson – that sin had separated man from God. This was emphasized by the fact that anybody, including the high priest, who entered the Holy of Holies on any other day would die. Even on the Day of Atonement, when the high priest could enter, he had to do so by sprinkling blood before him. The blood “gained” him access.
Imagine being that high priest that morning. Excited, but probably also a little apprehensive. Especially when, according to tradition, a rope was tied around one of his legs to drag him out in the event he would die. I have to imagine he didn’t go very boldly through the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place.
The writer to the Hebrews had that background in mind when he penned this most amazing section. “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter 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; (10:19-20). Now we have access to God! Now we can approach God confidently and boldly. All because of Jesus. His blood gained access for us. That is the significance of the veil of the temple tearing in two at the moment of his death. The Holy of Holies of God’s presence is no longer highly restricted.
Over the years, numerous Mormons have been puzzled and even taken aback by how confident I am that I am going to live with Heavenly Father forever. Some have questioned me about it – some have flat out told me I was dead wrong. Not that many identified with me. I would say that most felt that my confidence bordered on being naïve.
In contrast, many Christians identify with that confidence and exhibit that same confidence in Christ.
The contrast between the two is, for me, a striking evidence of the differences between Mormonism and Christianity.