The Tabernacle: The Ark–The Curtain before it (Part 1)
Having cleared the outer Courtyard and the first compartment we are now ready to move into the Holy of Holies. This was where the Ark of Covenant resided, and the remainder of our articles will survey various aspects of that central piece of furniture.
The first matter to note is that to go into this second compartment was an implausible scenario. This chamber was not even open to the Priests. It was only accessible once a year–on the Day of Atonement–and only by the High Priest, and 'not without blood.' In other words, there was a restriction placed upon the regularity, rank and right of access of the entrant. Controlling the entrance, hung a curtain. A study of this curtain will form the first part of our concluding articles on the Ark of the Covenant.
God ordered the restriction on this compartment following the death of the errant sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu (Lev 16:1-2). Speaking to Moses, He requested that Aaron '...come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat...that he die not.' Thus the vail existed to protect, conceal and divide between the presence of the Divine and mankind. It was most unlike the gate of the Court, and the door to the Tabernacle. They were to provide access, but the vail was to deny.
When we come to the New Testament, we find that the writer to the Hebrews reverses this restriction. Instead of being kept out, we are brought in, not into a physical location within the tabernacle complex, but into heaven itself. It should be of no surprise that it is the person of Christ who opens this access. Here's the verse in question;
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh" (Heb 10:19-20).
Note that both the blood and body of Christ are identified as having a role to play. It is the blood that is the basis of our boldness. It is our right to enter and reminds us that it has a broader scope than our initial forgiveness. It is also the basis of everything we have spiritually.
The second part of the verse is complicated and sometimes results in the adoption of a misleading interpretation. Taken at face value, it would appear that the writer is drawing a typological connection between the Tabernacle vail and the flesh (body) of Christ. This interpretation is rejected: In what way could His body function as a protection of the way to heaven?
Another way of understanding this is by connecting the final clause of the sentence–'that is to say, his flesh'–with the 'new and living way.' This means that the blood is our right to enter, and His body is the means of entry. The sacrifice of the body of Christ has enabled our access into the heavenlies. We have unlimited access to the Holiest of all because Christ in HIs death, resurrection and bodily ascension has opened up that way. No longer is the presence of the Divine to be a zone restricted to all but the High Priest once a year, but now it is open to all that receive Christ.
In this way, Christ is the complete opposite of the Tabernacle vail. He is the opening of a consecrated way, not the closure, and because of that, we should have the boldness to enter.