When You Live in the Holy Place...
Some thoughts on Hebrews 6
“When you live in the Holy Place, you can pray in any direction you please.” - Anonymous (but maybe Rumi)
I heard this quote sometime ago, and while I’m fairly sure it was attributed to Rumi, a Sufi mystic, I cannot find the source of this quote, but I think the idea stands.
In Daniel, when Judah was in exile, Daniel prayed towards Jerusalem three times a day (Daniel 6:10). This custom was established as early as the dedication of the temple by Solomon according to the Biblical Background Commentary (1 Kings 8:35). Though the Babylonians had destroyed the temple, its presence was still felt in exile.
But the exile forced the people to question their worldview of temples, holy places, and sacred space. While there were certain locations that were holy, like Sinai or Zion, they began to realize that these particular places were holy so that they would realize everything and every place is holy.
The universal needs a particular.
In Isaiah, the scripture says,
Thus says the LORD: Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; so what kind of house could you build for me, what sort of place for me to rest? All these things my hand has made, so all these things are mine, says the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look, to the humble and contrite in spirit who trembles at my word. Isaiah 66:1–2
Stephen quoted this passage to make a dramatic point in Acts 7:48: “Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with human hands.”
As Isaiah says in another place, the whole earth is filled with the glory of God.
So how does this relate to Hebrews 6? Let’s check it out.
I’ll be quoting from The Second Testament unless otherwise noted.
which we have as a self-anchor, both certain and firm, and entering into the interior, the inner curtain, where the forerunner, Yēsous, entered for us, becoming a Senior Priest into the Era consistent with Melchisedek’s order. Hebrews 6:19–20
In the NRSV, the text says,
We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:19–20
Where the head goes, the body follows. Since Jesus has entered the most holy place, we can have the confidence to enter it as well. To put it another way though, we don’t just live in the most holy place, we are the most holy place in one sense. In 2 Corinthians 6, the apostle Paul wrote,
What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, as God said, “I will live in them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people…” 2 Corinthians 6:16
This idea is so cool, but I’ll save Hebrews 10 to elaborate too much more, but one thing to think about until then is the direction of God. In John 14:23 and Revelation 21:1ff, the idea is not that we go to be with God somewhere else but that God comes and lives with us now. Through entering the holy place, we become the holy place. We become the place where God’s dwell.
Jesus is the Way to the Father, but Jesus is also the Father’s way to us!
And when you live within the veil as a priest in the kingdom of God, you can pray in any direction you please. In fact, you pray without ceasing because you are in constant communion with the Divine.