As the Outer Is Peeled Away

As the Outer Is Peeled Away

Parting that great curtain you walk into the Holy of Holies and gasp at the beauty of the Ark of the Covenant with the ornately carved cherubim stretching out their wings over the mercy seat. This room is beautifully ornate, every surface made of either precious gold or exquisite cloth. Best of all, the glory of God is tangible here, visible and undeniable, for this is the place where God lives, where God has chosen to dwell among his people. This is a place of gold and of glory. You can only fall on your face in wonder and worship. And later, as you ponder what you have seen, you consider this: The best of the beauty is in the hidden places.

There are many different ways to chart the journey through life. We can do it in life stages, like childhood to adulthood to middle age to old age. We can do it in decades, like teens to twenties to thirties and so on. But lately I’ve been pondering the passing of the generations, how when we are young we lose our grandparents, and then when we are a bit older we lose our parents, until finally we come to the stage when our own generation begins to fade—when we have to bid farewell to the people we counted as friends and peers.

In the past few years, I have watched a number of dear friends grapple with terrible and ultimately terminal illnesses. I have watched people I only ever knew to be whole and strong fade until they were broken and weak. I have watched them accept the reality that their time was short and the Lord was calling them home. And through it all, I’m convinced that I’ve seen their faith shine all the brighter. I’ve seen an inner beauty and an inner glory that has become all the more evident as everything outside has been slowly pulled off and peeled away.

I want you to imagine that you are walking toward the Old Testament tabernacle, that you are seeing and experiencing it for the very first time. The twelve tribes of Israel are camped in a great rectangle all around it—millions of people, hundreds of thousands of tents, countless cattle. In the center of it all is a clearing and within that clearing is the tabernacle.

As you approach it, you can see the outer wall which is made up of plainly-colored curtains supported by bronze stands. The people and the priests are coming and going through an entrance that faces east. The outside of the tabernacle is noble and dignified, but hardly impressive.

As you pass through the entrance, you now find yourself in the outer courtyard. Here you see the great bronze altar billowing with smoke. Nearby is a bronze laver where the priests carry out their ceremonial washings.

Read More

Scroll to top