It was early. Quiet. The smell of recent rain and fresh dirt drifted from the ground as I dug. If I hurried, I could get this thing buried and no one would know. There would be no questions, no investigations. I wanted this job to look professional. Getting this lined up had taken time. I didn’t want people thinking I’d gone crooked. No one likes crooked fence posts. No weekend warrior wants nosy neighbors pointing out what he’s doing wrong.
In the end, it was great to see the posts line up as we built our garden fence. A few mistakes and some “redo’s,” and the last post was in. As I was digging those post holes, it occurred to me that I was making a fence to keep animals out of my garden, while God made a fence to keep us out of his.
Okay, maybe not a fence, but it was more effective. He used angels and a flaming sword. That beats the electric fence any day. Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden of Eden forever.
Genesis 3 tells the famous story. They ate from the tree that was off limits. They believed Satan’s lie when he said God was holding out on them, and that they would become like God if they disobeyed. They did not choose wisely. They sinned.
Sin means death, both spiritual and physical. Adam and Eve were separated from God. But God did not intend to leave them, and us, out in the cold. He promised that Eve’s offspring would crush Satan’s head. That offspring is Jesus Christ, born millennia later, to a virgin.
In between these momentous events—our fall and Jesus’ birth—God unfolded his plan to prepare mankind for the coming of Jesus. God created a special nation, Israel. He gave them promises of homeland and prosperity, if they would just trust and follow Him. He taught them about sin, and the fact that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin. He gave them the temple and the sacrificial system that paid for individual and national sin, so they could draw near to God.
Inside that temple was an inner chamber, the Holy of Holies. God’s presence was there. A High Priest entered annually to offer the blood of the sin sacrifice, called the atonement. That chamber was separated from the rest by a curtain, a fence, if you will. On that curtain were images of the same angels that kept sinful man and woman out of the Garden of Eden. God designed the purpose of that curtain and the images on it (Ex. 26:31). As beautiful as was, it served to separate people from God. It reminds us of our original and ongoing rebellion against God. But God provided a way through.
The High Priest who entered by means of a blood sacrifice, had to repeat this ritual over and over. The system God provided wasn’t permanent. God wasn’t going to leave us on the wrong side of the fence. The priest, pattern, and separation, point back to God’s promise to provide offspring to the woman. Jesus was born. As the sinless Son of God, he needed no sin offering for himself. Instead he offered himself as a sacrifice for our sin. His body became the way through the curtain (Heb. 10:20), through the fence that separates us from God. Jesus removes sin.
When Jesus died, the sky went dark. The earth shook. In a rending rip, the curtain separating sinners from God split (Matt 27:51; Mk.15:38). Jesus entered the heavenly Holy of Holies (Heb. 9:11, 23-34) where he presented himself as the final payment for sin (Heb. 9:26). Because he went through that fence ahead of us, we can boldly go there, too (Heb. 10:19). How do we enter? Jesus called himself the door. Anyone who enters through him will be saved (John 10:9). The fence has a gate, designed by God from the beginning. God loves you that much, and removes all the barriers so you can run back to him. He is waiting at the open door, arms wide open. Believe in Jesus and you enter in.
The nearness of God is my good.