In The Old Covenant (O.C.) only 1 person, the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies where God’s manifest presence, Shekinah glory was. Even then, he could only enter once a year and under strict instructions and rituals.
We know that the veil was torn at Jesus death because the veil simply symbolized his body which was “torn” for us. However, according to Heb.9:7-10 the Holy of Holies was not yet accessible to mankind because the OLD Temple and it’s symbolism was still standing.
Hebrews was written around 67 AD, which was the time the persecution of Christianity was climaxing and Israel was no longer the main source of hostility. Nero Caesar is believed by Christian ad secular history to have initiated the fire that destroyed much of Rome and he even blamed the Christians! At this same time, the rebellion of the Jews towards Rome was peaking and after many wars and rumors of wars; Rome had finally had enough. General Titus was sent to besiege Jerusalem and they did for 3.5 years before they finally penetrated her walls, only to find the city already destroyed from within by famine, pestilence and sword. (Much of this will sound familiar to any reader of Revelation)
What the writer of Hebrews seems to have been declaring amongst all of the O.T symbolism was the contrast between the old/inferior/shadow and the NEW/better/reality which Jesus initiated at “The Last Supper” (not previously during his first 30-some years) and was about to be fully manifested!
“By using the words, “a new Covenant,” He has made the first one obsolete; but whatever is decaying and showing signs of old age is not far from disappearing altogether.” Heb.8:13
When the Word spoke the words ~ “28for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.” The O.C. was forever made obsolete. However, the shadow structure and it’s rituals were still preventing believers from entering the “Holy of Holies”! Even after the veil was torn in the Temple! Hebrews 9:1-10 describes why but the main point is~ “8The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, 9which is a symbol for the present time….10b until a time of reformation.” I still don’t fully understand this even though I have been asking, studying and reading commentaries but, I believe the OT has a nugget of revelation. We have to remember this book was written to believing ex-Jews who were well versed in OT Scriptures. That’s why this book (and I believe Revelation) are filled with mysteries in symbolism. ~ 1 Cor. 1:22
UNABLE TO ENTER ~
We know that the veil tearing in the Temple was symbolic of the way being made available but apparently there was a period of almost 40 years (one generation) in which they had to wait. Remember the Israelites wilderness generation? I have found a few references where the OT declares that even the Priests were unable to enter the Holy of Holies and every time it was at a very specific appointed time!
17“When he goes in to make atonement in the holy place, no one shall be in the tent of meeting until he comes out, that he may make atonement for himself and for his household and for all the assembly of Israel.” Lev.16
This time there is no mention of glory cloud but, I thought it was worth mentioning that only the High Priest was allowed to enter any part of the Tabernacle at the Day of Atonement.
Moses Tabernacle ~ 34Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” ~ Exodus 40
These are some of the last verses of the last chapter in Exodus. After all of the ritual prescribed as finally completed; they set up the Tabernacle in 40:17 for the first time and had to wait some more! We will see how many times the Temple is inaugurated and God’s glory, like a cloud/smoke is so thick no one cannot enter!
1Now when Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the house. 2The priests could not enter into the house of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’S house.”
Both of these occasions have similarities. Consider that God’s glory cloud/smoke filled the Temple at it’s inauguration when the Ark of the Covenant was present. When Herod’s Temple was constructed much later (about one generation/40 years before Jesus entered it) there was no Ark present. God’s glory had left long before but, was returning in the form of Jesus’ body; a better temple.
However, we see one last account of God’s glory filling the Temple in Revelation.
HEAVEN FINALLY OPENED!
Rev.15:5b”I looked, and the temple of the tabernacle of testimony in heaven was opened… 8And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and no one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.”
Also described in Rev.11: “19And the temple of God which is in heaven was opened; and the ark of His covenant appeared in His temple, and there were flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder and an earthquake and a great hailstorm.”
The point of all of this is that Revelation does not reveal the destruction of the literal Heavens and earth but, the fulfillment of the Old Covenant as the “Time of Reformation” or New Covenant as fully ushered in! *****
The Holy of Holies in the”Temple of God” in Heaven must have been closed before this moment described for these passages to have any real significance. I believe it’s describing Jesus, our High Priest finalizing the Tabernacle ritual in Heaven ~ “23For it is necessary that these things which are symbols of the Heavenly are purified by these things, but the Heavenly by better sacrifices than these. 24For it was not The Holy Place made by hands that The Messiah entered, and which was the symbol of the real one, but he entered Heaven to appear before the face of God in our place…”Hebrews 9
There is so much detail about the High Priest’s rituals described in the Torah (espeically Leviticus) and every single detail of it pointed to what Jesus has done!
What can block a person from “entering the Holy of Holies” now that Jesus blood is given for us? Probably only unbelief. Maybe that’s why the “faith chapter” follows these passages. How many times have we gone to Hebrews 11 and neglected the previous 2 verses in 10:38 & 39?
JESUS BLOOD WAS ENOUGH~
Heb.9 ~ “According to the law almost everything is purified with blood…”22A
“14how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
Heb.10:22let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”
It’s Jesus’ righteousness and not our own that grants us access from beginning (born-again) to completion because He is the Author and Finisher of the faith!
Paul described the “Old glory” as practically nothing compared to the New glory so well in 2 Cor.3:7-18 . I like how the YLT draws out the (at that time) present tense of the Law in the process of passing away ~
“9for if the ministration of the condemnation [is] glory, much more doth the ministration of the righteousness abound in glory; 10for also even that which hath been glorious, hath not been glorious — in this respect, because of the superior glory;11for if that which is being made useless [is] through glory, much more that which is remaining [is] in glory.” 2 Cor.3:9-11
There’s much that I still don’t understand but, it seems to me that what we lack is not an open Heaven but, the proper perspective. I believe we remain in an “open Heaven” when we simply abide in the Vine, Christ. We are just growing in more intimacy, which releases more revelation, authority, power and love as our roots grow deeper in Him!