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The "So What" of the Torn Curtain - Life of Christ Part 109

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
February 25, 2024 7:00 am

The "So What" of the Torn Curtain - Life of Christ Part 109

So What? / Lon Solomon

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For your next vacation, how about renting a lookout tower? You know one of those things out west way up in the mountains where people would go to look for forest fires?

Well, they don't use them anymore because now they spot forest fires with radar and satellites and aerial surveillance. So instead of tearing these things down, they're now renting them to people to go on vacation. Some of these things are 100 feet high. And you get a 360 degree view.

It's quite a view. You can rent one by calling the Forest Service. They'll let you rent one for a week or a weekend or whatever.

Now, most of them cannot be reached by car. Most of them you've got to either hike in or ski in or snowmobile in. When you get there, they have heat.

They have little wood stoves. But the problem is you have to go cut the wood and carry it up yourself to this tower. You have to bring your own bedding. You have to bring your own water. You've got to bring your own food. They have no running water.

They have no electricity, no toilet facilities, no kitchens, no telephones, and no emergency services anywhere around. In fact, they're so remote that the Forest Service actually discourages parents from bringing any child under the age of 12 years old to one of these things. But you want isolation? Folks, they've got isolation for you.

And if you'll see me in the foyer afterwards, I can give you all the information you need to have your next vacation at one of these things. Now, I don't know about you, but that doesn't appeal to me at all. Going up one of these towers and sitting up in there just does not appeal to me in the least. And I doubt if it appeals to most people because most of us don't like to be isolated. Most of us don't like to be kept at arm's length in our relationships with other people. And in no relationship is that more true perhaps than in our relationship with Almighty God. You know, this is exactly the reason why Jesus Christ died on the cross, so that He could remove the isolation that existed between us as unholy people and God as a holy God. And this is what we want to talk about today as we study from the Bible. So I want you to look beginning at verse 50, Matthew 27 verse 50. And it says there, when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up His spirit.

He died. And at that moment, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom and the earth shook and the rocks split. Isn't it interesting that the very first act, the first official act of God after Jesus Christ died on the cross was to tear the curtain of the temple in two vertically from top to bottom. Now to understand this curtain you really have to understand a little bit about the floor plan of the temple that was in Jerusalem at the time. The temple was divided into two big rooms. The first, the biggest room of the two, the outer room was called the holy place. It had altars and furniture in it and it was here that the priests would go about their daily duties of sacrificing animals, Allah, you know, the Old Testament. At the back of the holy place was a smaller room called the Holy of Holies or the most holy place. It was the most sacred place in all Israel. It was here that the personal presence of God dwelled and it was also where the Ark of the Covenant was located with the lid of solid gold that it had which was called the mercy seat. This was inside the Holy of Holies. Now the Ark was the most important piece of furniture in all Israel except that we all know it isn't in Israel anymore. It's in a warehouse here in Washington DC somewhere.

Say how do you know that? Well because that's where Indiana Jones left it and so it's here somewhere down there in that maze of warehouses but no one was allowed to go into the Holy of Holies except the high priest and not only one time a year. On Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, which by the way is coming up in another week or so, in the fall of the year, and the high priest would go in all by himself with a bowl of blood that had come from the sacrifice of a perfect lamb, a blemishless lamb, he would take some of that blood, he would sprinkle it on top of the Ark, on the mercy seat, the cover of the Ark, and he would confess the sins of his people for the year and God in response agreed that he would overlook, he would forgive the sin of the people for that last year.

You know what's really interesting? When the high priest went into the Holy of Holies every year they tied a rope around his leg, around his ankle, and he would walk in with this ball and chain kind of walk because he had a rope around his leg. He said why in the world would you do something crazy like that? Well because if he died, he had a heart attack inside the Holy of Holies, how are you going to get him out? No Jewish person in their right mind would even think about going in this place. And so unless they were planning to leave him in here to rot until the next Yom Kippur when the new high priest could go in and pull him out, they had had a way to get him out so this way they figure if you die we got the rope, we'll just kind of drag you out. The reason I tell you that is because I want to impress upon you how inviolable, how off limits the Holy of Holies really was in people's minds. Now what separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple was a big old curtain. And this curtain is the one that the Bible is talking about right here.

What do we know about this curtain? Well we know that it hung from floor to ceiling and that the rabbis tell us it was 60 feet high. That's six stories. That's a big curtain. That's taller than this building. That's a big curtain. And it was 20 feet wide and the rabbis tell us that it was made out of material, out of cloth, the thickness of a man's hand from his fingertip to the beginning of his wrist. Now I don't know whose hand you're using but that's somewhere between what, six to nine inches? Something like that?

Six to nine inches? That's four phone books thick? Can you imagine that? And this thing was so heavy that the rabbis tell us it took 300 priests to hoist the thing up and maneuver it into place. Now I know they weren't Arnold Schwarzenegger's, the priests weren't, but still that's a lot of people to hoist this thing up. This was one hunking big piece of cloth. And the reason it was so big and the reason it was so imposing is because it was meant to deliver an imposing message to people. You say, well Lon, what's that message? The message is this, Lon, you don't belong behind this curtain. Lon, you are not holy and God is.

Lon, you as a sinner have no grounds, no platform on which to stand in the presence of a holy God. It was this thick curtain that was aimed at delivering that message. And folks, it was this thick curtain that God tore right down the middle as his first official act after Jesus Christ died on the cross. You say, well, there was an earthquake that did it. No, no, no.

An earthquake could have caused it to fall down but an earthquake is not going to split this thing perfectly four phone books thick piece of cloth 60 feet high right down the middle. That was an act of the hand of God. Now that's the end of our passage but it leads us to a really important question. And what's the question? So what? Very good. So what?

Very good. I've got something I want to show you. This is a football card. It's part of the collection I have that has hit rock bottom in value. But anyway, it's my football card. It's not just any football card, it's a rookie card and it's a rookie card of not just anybody. It's a rookie card of Lawrence Taylor. How many of you know who Lawrence Taylor is? Alright, fabulous outside linebacker for the New York Giants, maybe the best outside linebacker in the history of football, shooing to make the Hall of Fame his rookie card.

Actually, it's not mine. It's my son Justin's who's now a teenager. He got it when he was younger because Lawrence Taylor is his absolute favorite player and the New York Giants were his favorite team. So when he was 11, he talked me into taking him up to the Meadowlands to see a Giants game. So we went up to see a Giants game. I was alright, you know, I mean it rained on us the whole game and the Giants won and I hate the Giants.

But other than that, it was okay. So after the game, we went out to the players entrance because we were going to get Lawrence Taylor's autograph. So we're there at the players entrance, Matt Barr comes out, you know the kicker, he signed Justin's ticket.

I mean, it was nice, you know, all these linemen start coming out. You ever been near these people? These people are huge. I mean, they're like walking buildings. These people are enormous.

And to think that they can run a 40 in five seconds is unbelievable. So they'd come out and I'd say to Justin, who's that building over there? And he'd say, well, he's so and so. And I'd say, well, who's the building over there? And he'd say, he's so and so. And we waited and we waited and we waited and no Lawrence Taylor.

Okay. So it's starting to get a little sparse out here, no Lawrence Taylor. So I walked over to the guard and I said, hey, my son here, big Lawrence Taylor fan, came all the way from Washington DC, yada, yada, yada.

When does he come out? He says, sir, you see that red Porsche over there behind that big fence with all the barbed wire? I said, uh-huh. He said, you see all those goons standing around that car? I said, no. He said, that's Lawrence Taylor's car.

And those are his bodyguards. I said, oh. He said, and Lawrence Taylor walks directly into that fenced off area, gets in his red Porsche with his goons and they drive out a separate entrance. He doesn't come through here.

He said, sir, nobody, nobody gets close to Lawrence Taylor. I said, yeah, but you don't understand. I came all the way from Washington DC with this 11-year-old kid to see the Giants who I can't even stand. And these goons have got to have kids. They got to have a soft place in their heart for children.

Somewhere. Don't you know one of these people? I mean, an autograph takes 10 seconds. He said, sir, I don't think you got the point. Nobody gets close to Lawrence Taylor.

And you know what? Nobody did. Not us. We never did see him.

We never did get his autograph. I felt pretty alone standing out there. I felt pretty pushed off standing out there. That's how I think people must have felt when they went to the temple and his big old curtain was up. And God was behind the curtain, but nobody could go behind the curtain. Kind of at arm's length from God. You know, when Jesus Christ paid for our sin on the cross, the very first thing God did was rip this curtain.

The very first thing he did. Can you imagine the trauma? Can you imagine the stress of this happening? Do you realize in a thousand years, not a hundred eyes had ever seen behind this curtain?

There hadn't been 50 high priests in a thousand years. A hundred eyes had never seen what was behind this curtain. And now all of a sudden here it is ripped from top to bottom, hanging wide open for the whole world to see what was behind it.

Incredible. And that torn curtain is very important. The torn curtain symbolizes the heart and the soul of everything Jesus Christ died on the cross to accomplish.

Let me repeat that. Listen, the torn curtain symbolizes the heart and the soul of everything Jesus Christ died on the cross to do. It tells us that everything has changed. It tells us that our relationship to God as mankind has totally changed.

That's why God ripped that. Let me show you another passage of scripture. Hebrews chapter 10. It's page 851 if you're using our copy of the Bible.

Page 851. Hebrews chapter 10. Would you turn there and look at verse 19 with me? Verse 19. The torn curtain, friends, tells us that for high priest and for layperson alike, the way into God's personal presence is now open.

It's now open. Hebrews 10 verse 19. Therefore, since we have confidence to enter the most holy place, the holy of holies, by the blood of Jesus, look at verse 20, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain.

Look at that. Through the curtain. And since we have a great high priest over the house of God, verse 22, let us draw near to God. God invites us in. God welcomes us into the holy of holies. God says, please come in and draw near to me with a sincere heart and with full assurance. You see, the tearing of the curtain was meant to communicate to Israel and to us that there is a new and living way.

That's what it says here. A new and living way to relate to God that's been open to us. And look how it was open to us. Verse 19, by the blood of Jesus. And it's a new and living way that allows us to draw near to God and dwell in the very presence of God.

In fact, that's what God invites us now to do. Folks, Jesus Christ came to earth. He went to the cross. He shed his blood on the cross. He died in our place on the cross. He paid for our sins on the cross. So he could give us eternal life? Yes. So he could guarantee us a place in heaven?

Yes. But that wasn't all. He also did it so that he could tear down the barrier between a holy God and sinful man. So that he could rip the curtain, as it were, between man and God.

So that he could make a way for a holy God and unholy human beings to be reconciled in such a way that we could go right into the presence of Almighty God and that it's okay. In fact, God invites us and welcomes us. There's no more curtain, folks. It's ripped. It's torn.

It's gone forever. We're free to enter into the presence of God. Nothing can obstruct that. This is the message of the torn curtain. Can I show you one more passage of Scripture before we close? It's in Romans, chapter 5. And I want us to look at the first two verses of Romans, chapter 5. My dear friends, if you understand the first two verses of Romans, chapter 5, if you understand what they're really saying about our relationship with God, it will change forever how you see God and how you relate to him. Listen to these verses.

Therefore, verse 1, Romans 5, since we have been justified through faith, stop there. What's this mean? What does it mean to be justified? Well, this is a forensic word. It's a courtroom word.

It's a Perry Mason word. What it means is the word justified means to be declared not guilty. It means to be acquitted. It doesn't mean that you may not be guilty.

You may. It means that in the eyes of the court, you are legally declared not guilty. So it doesn't matter what you really are. As far as the court's concerned, you're acquitted.

You're not guilty. And God says that when we are justified, look, how do you get to be this way? It says through faith. Through faith in who? In Jesus Christ. Through faith in what? In what he did on the cross for you and me and paying for our sins. When we're willing to trust Christ, God says you become justified in the eyes of God in the courtroom of heaven.

You are pronounced, pow, acquitted, not guilty. This is an incredible thing. Do you know how our country grants favored nation status to certain countries and then they get all kinds of privileges and benefits in their trade with the United States?

You know how we do that. Well, in a sense, folks, what this verse is telling us is that for people who have trusted Jesus Christ, God grants them justified person status. It's a special status.

Everybody doesn't have it. And for the people who have justified person status, they get special privileges that the rest of the world doesn't get. Here are two of them.

Number one. Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, here's privilege number one, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Now don't confuse this with the peace of God. There's a difference. The peace of God is an experiential feeling of well-being and calm and assurance that God gives Christians when we take our problems and our burdens and we lay them at his feet and in response, he carries the burden and gives us the peace of God.

Now that's not what we're talking about here at all. What we are talking about here is the fact that God says later in this chapter, Romans five, that with you're not covered with the blood of Jesus Christ, if you're not a believer in Jesus Christ, you are at war with God. That's how God sees you. That we are God's enemies. That's how God sees us because we are sinners determined to go in the wrong direction, in the other direction from God.

There is a conflict going on. There is a war between the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. And what this verse says is when we come to the place where we trust Christ as our personal savior and we're justified by faith, God says, all right, hostilities are over. God says, all right, from now on, there is a peace treaty between you and me. God smokes the peace pipe with us. He buries the hatchet. And he says, from this point on the war between my holiness and your sinfulness is over. It's over. From now on, because you're justified, you're not my enemy, but you're my friend for all eternity.

It's pretty incredible. This means that we get a peace treaty with God. That's what peace with God is all about. And as I said earlier, this is only available through Jesus Christ.

Listen to Colossians 120. It says that Jesus Christ made peace. What kind of peace?

Well, peace between us as sinners and a holy God. Jesus Christ made peace, Colossians 120, by means of his blood shed on the cross. Folks, for sinners, peace with God, a peace treaty with God can only be found one place in the universe, and that's at the cross. And if you're here this morning and you've never trusted Christ as your personal savior, if you've never trusted what he did on the cross for you to pay for your sin, not your human effort, not your religious good works, but only what Christ did, may I say to you that there's no peace treaty between you and God.

You can't make one of these in your own effort. The only way a peace treaty comes, God says, is by trusting what Christ did for you on the cross. That's where you can have peace with God.

No amount of human effort is going to make it happen. I hope you'll think about that. This is what God's offering you, a peace treaty. But he's offering you more. Look, verse two. And it says, not only do we get a peace treaty with God, but it says, number two, through whom Jesus Christ, we have gained access by faith into this gracious status in which we now stand. You know the other thing that you get when you trust God as your personal savior? You get access to God, direct access to the God of the universe. The curtain's torn, the curtain's gone, the Holy of Holies is open, you can walk in and be with God.

You get access that you didn't have before. You know, I've lived here in Washington 25 years, and it's one place I've always wanted to go. Never been able to go there. You know where it is? Say the Smithsonian.

Nah. The Washington Monument. Nah, I've been there.

Lincoln Memorial. Nah, I've been there, too. Say, well, where is it? You know where I would like to go? I would love to go into the living quarters of the White House, up on the second floor. Wouldn't you like to go up there? See what that's really like.

That would be a cool place to go. But I've never even gotten close. I've been to the White House a few times, but every time I even look towards the steps that go up, the Secret Service just immediately spring into action.

You know, they know when you look at the thing. So I've never been up there. In 1987, I was out at Hume Lake Camp, and my oldest son, Jamie, was 11 then, and he was going to wagon train. They put you in these big old covered wagons, and eight or ten kids sleep outside in these wagons and sleeping bags.

It's a pretty cool place. But anyway, I noticed when I took him up that there were all these adults hanging around his wagon. And these were strange adults, you know, with polo shirts and big bulges in the back of the polo shirts.

And I was like, well, who are all these people? Well, come to find out that at the time, Cameron Reagan, who was President Reagan's grandson, was there. And of course, President Reagan was in office at the time, and so these were all the Secret Service agents who were sent out there to stand guard and make sure nothing happened to this kid. Cameron had a favorite little game that he used to play. It was called, see if you can lose the Secret Service.

It's true. And he actually lost them up there one day at Hume. He went off, and they couldn't find him, and they were not happy campers. Sir, we've lost your grandson.

I don't know, sir, somewhere in the Sierras does not work. I made it a point to talk to this kid. He's a delightful kid. And I said, hey, I got to ask you something. Have you ever been upstairs in the White House? And he said, oh, yeah. He said, I've been up there lots of times. I said, you have? He said, oh yeah, I've even slept up there a whole bunch of times. Oh. I said, well, how come you get to go up there like that? He said, simple. He said, my granddaddy is the President.

And you know, he was pointing out a very important fact. When you're family, you get access. I'm not family.

I don't get access. He's family. He gets access.

And you know that same thing's true with God? You want access to God? You've got to be family.

But if you are, you get access. Listen to John chapter 1, verse 12. For the person who's willing to trust Christ as their personal savior, John 1, 12 says this, that God gives those people the right, the privilege to become children of God, to become family. And when you get family, what do you get? Access.

That's right. You don't have to go through any intermediaries. One of the blessed privileges that God gives us when we trust Christ is that we get direct access and immediate access and personal access to Almighty God in the universe. You don't have to go through a priest or a secretary or an administrative assistant or a switchboard. Can you imagine if you got down on your knees to pray and all of a sudden you heard this?

Hello, you have reached heaven. If you know the extension of the person you want, you may dial it at any time. For a dial-by-name directory, press 8.

Otherwise, please hold on and your call will be answered in the order received by the next available angel. Do you hate those things or what? We've got one of those things here at McLean Bible Church. I hate our phone system. I can't get any people.

I call up, I don't remember the numbers to all these people's directories. I just want a person. Give me a person. You know what I'm talking about? I want a person.

Well, I want to tell you something. When I call God, I don't want an angel. I don't want an administrative assistant. I don't want a switchboard. I want God. You know why? Because I need God.

I don't need some administrative assistant. I need God. And here's the good news.

When we call heaven as Christians, we get God. Why? Because we're family.

And family gets what? Access. Boy, that's pretty cool, I think. Can I make a confession to you as we close this morning? Sure, you love to hear me confess stuff, don't you?

Yeah, this is good. Here's my confession. Sometimes I get so picked up and carried along in the events of life, you know, something will hit, you know, bop, and I'll just get so, all right, all right, let's go, got to deal with this, got to fix this, let's go, all right, come on, let's go, that I totally forget about the fact I've got access to God on this. Has that ever happened to you? I mean, it happens to me all the time.

And I'm just chugging along, dealing with this. It never even occurred to me to use the access I had to God on this. I mean, instead of accessing his peace, I fret. Instead of accessing his strength, I exhaust myself. Instead of accessing his power, I try to gut it out, you know. Instead of accessing his wisdom, I make a lot of dumb decisions. Instead of accessing his hope, I get discouraged. Instead of accessing his love, I get lonely and scared. I forget all about the fact I've got access, folks.

Maybe you're like I am. And you forget too. You know, God has so much better way for us. The whole purpose of tearing that curtain was to try to let us understand the access he has granted us, that we can go right into his presence and get the help we need for everything in life. We've got an access the rest of the world doesn't have.

They've still got the curtain. We don't, if we know Christ. And folks, God didn't tear the curtain and give us that access so we could preach about it. He gave us that access so we could use it in the everyday affairs of life. That's why he said, Hebrews 4 16, let us then approach God's throne of grace boldly.

Why boldly? Because we're family and we've got access so that we can get the grace to help us that we need in times of trouble. You know, in our family, we teach our children to pray about everything.

Not just the big things, everything. We pray about homework. We pray about tests. We pray about proposals. We pray about meetings.

We pray about parking spaces. We pray about lost shoes. Somebody lost a shoe.

I say we need to pray about it. God knows where that shoe is. Why should I kill myself trying to figure out where that shoe is when God knows where the shoe is? You pray about it.

Go find it. God will lead you to the shoe. Let me tell you something. It is amazing how many shoes we find in our family.

You would not believe how many shoes we find. I want my children to understand that they've got access to God on even the little things of life. Because why? They're family. Close with a little story. Wednesday night, I decided to go up to see the Orioles play the White Sox. You know, they're fighting for the wild card spot and I thought that'd be a good game. So I got my son Jonathan who's 11 and we scooted up to the game.

We got a late start. So by the time we got there, all the parking was gone. They were rerouting people into South Baltimore. I didn't want to go into South Baltimore but I didn't have any choice. I'm driving all around South Baltimore looking for a parking spot.

Can't find a parking spot anywhere. Come back around the stadium one more time and I got in his line and it said in big sign, permits required but I didn't care because I was tired of driving around South Baltimore. So we're sitting in his line and after I was in it for a minute and realized you needed a permit, then I couldn't get out of the line.

You know, that type of deal. So I'm figuring I'm going to get up there and I'm going to tell this guy I don't have a permit and I'm going to be driving around South Baltimore some more. So we're sitting in line and my son Jonathan says to me, hey dad, you know this line, do you have a permit?

I said, no, I do not have a permit. He said, what are you doing in this line? I said, well, I can't get out of the line now.

He said, you know what we should do, dad? He said, we should pray for a parking space. I said, well, that's a good idea, John. Why don't you do that? Because I frankly was not really in the mood to pray about this after driving around South Baltimore. So I said, well, John, that's a great idea.

Why don't you do that? So he bowed his head and he said, now God, you know we're here and we need to see the game. It's going to be starting in about 10 minutes. We've been looking for a parking space. It's me and my dad together. I really would appreciate you giving us a parking space.

Do something special for us. Amen. I'm going, that's very good, John.

Good. So we get up to the guy there, you know, who's checking everything and he goes, do you have a permit? And I go, no, sir.

I guess I'm in the wrong line, aren't I? He said, yes, sir, you are in the wrong line. I said, no, I don't have a permit. I just got me and my son coming to the game and John's looking at him and he was on John's side of the car and he says, you don't have a permit? I said, no, sir. He said, he reaches in pocket, pulls out this permit.

He says, well, here, son, tell your dad you have one now. And we parked right next to the stadium. I mean, you know, we could have crawled into the stadium from this parking lot. And I looked at John and John looked at me and we pulled up there and he just turned to me and all he said was, see there?

You know, what can you say? Access? Hey, use it.

You say, well, if I use it, am I going to get a parking space every time we go to Orioles game? I can't promise you that, but I can promise you if you'll use the access God has given you, God will be there for you in whatever your problems are in life because your family, if you know Christ, use your access. Let's pray together. While our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed, I'd like you to take just a moment if you're a Christian here this morning and you've got problems like I do. Maybe you've been trying to handle them in your own strength and not taking advantage of your access. In these quiet moments, I'd like to give you a chance to say, God, forgive me.

I want to access you on these things. And if you're here and you've never trusted Christ in a personal way as your savior, this is a great opportunity to do that. God will rip that curtain right where you sit and open the way for you to come into his presence.

All you have to do is ask him. Let's take a moment and pray. Dear Father, we don't need to tell you that life has all kinds of problems and heartaches and tragedies and stressful situations. And I thank you that you tell us that we should bring our cares to you because you care for us, that you're there for us in all of these. But Lord, so many times we just get so busy and so caught up in trying to fix all our problems that we totally forget that we have access to you on these things. So I pray this morning that for all of us here as Christians, you would remind us of this great privilege that the curtain is torn, that we can come right into your presence with our problems and find help and grace to sustain us. And for the folks who've prayed that today and asked for your special help, I pray that you would honor what they've prayed. Thank you, Father, that Jesus Christ died on the cross to rip that curtain between us and you. Thank you that nobody else can put a curtain up anymore, that the way is open. And I pray that you would change the way we live our everyday lives because of what we've learned here this morning, that it would change our lifestyle for Jesus Christ. And I pray these things in his name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-25 08:15:44 / 2024-02-25 08:29:02 / 13

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