Worship in the Old Testament
The Holy Place of Worship
9 Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness. 2 For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place, 4 having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. 5 Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
6 These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, 7 but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. 8 By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the holy places is not yet opened as long as the first section is still standing 9 (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper, 10 but deal only with food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation.
In C. S. Lewis’s classic fantasy The Chronicles of Narnia, four children discover an attic wardrobe that seems normal enough from the outside. But creeping inside, they discover an entire world that was hidden from their view, the world of Narnia with the White Witch and Aslan the lion-lord. What seemed mundane on the outside turned out to be filled with mystery.
The ancient people of Israel also had a normal-looking structure that contained things of great significance. It was the tabernacle God commanded them to build in the time of Moses. This tent structure did not seem like much from the outside. But once inside, one was confronted with holy things—indeed, with the holy God himself.