The temple Solomon built in Jerusalem consisted of the temple itself, housing the Holy of Holies or Most Holy Place, and two courts—an inner court or Court of Priests and an outer court or Great Court.
The Great Court served as a gathering place for the people to worship. There were no restrictions on entry to this court. Anyone could enter it.
Only the priests were allowed into the Court of Priests, however. Non-clerics were never permitted to enter.
Even priests were denied entry into the Holy of Holies. This was where the name of God resided, along with the Ark of the Covenant, and the only intrusion by humans allowed here was a once-a-year visit by the High Priest. Admission was so tightly controlled that when he went in, he had to have a rope tied around his ankle so that if he were to die inside the Most Holy Place others could pull his body back out without having to enter.
This differentiation was ordained by God Himself and was strictly observed by the Jewish people. Any unauthorized entry would result in death. A veil separated the Holy of Holies from view from the outside, and it was this veil which was rent at the moment of Jesus’s death.
Under the New Covenant, we Christians are the temple. Our bodies are specifically named as the temple of the Holy Spirit, but as a generality, each of us is a temple. Most Christians recognize this, but how about a little extra food for thought?
Just as the Temple had its Great Court, its Court of Priests and its Holy of Holies, so we as New Covenant temples have our three courts. Think about this for a moment.
We all have an outer court or Great Court in which anyone can come into our presence. The mail carrier, the cashier at Wal-Mart, a stranger passing us on the street—all are welcome to speak to us from our outer court, and we will generally respond to anyone who enters there.
Any relationship in that outer court, however, will be limited. None of these strangers who meet us there will come to know us much beyond a friendly nod and a hello. We simply don’t go around baring our souls and exposing ourselves to every stranger with whom we come into contact.
We also have an inner court. Perhaps the analogy breaks down slightly here, because, unlike the inner court of the Jewish Temple, our inner court has various levels in it. We have one level for new friends, where they can come to know a little more about us than the strangers in the outer court, but we’re still careful how much we let them see of us.
Then we have another level for closer friends, where we may bare things about ourselves we wouldn’t consider letting a new friend know. At other levels we have our better friends, our kinfolk, our immediate families, and so forth. At each of these levels the people we allow in come to know a little more about us—maybe even where some of the skeletons and dirty laundry are kept.
Usually, the highest of these levels is reserved for our spouses. Most of us bare things to them we wouldn’t let our mothers or siblings or even our best friends know. At this level, we’re getting pretty close to letting someone see us as we really are. Close, but not quite. We all reserve a bit of ourselves, a part we don’t want anyone else to see, because we fear they might not like or love us if they knew that.
That last hidden segment of ourselves is reserved for our Holy of Holies, where any and every part of us is laid bare. Only God is allowed into this area. He’s the only one we trust to know us completely. He’s the only one we know will love us NO MATTER what dirty laundry we bring in. No matter what skeletons are in our closet.
As I was pondering on these three courts one day and how we limit our relationships by hiding parts of ourselves from others, God showed me something startling. We place these barrier between ourselves and others because we don’t trust their love, but His kingdom is built on unconditional love.
In His kingdom, all of our relationships will take place in that Holy of Holies. We will reserve nothing. We will know others—and they will know us—to the very core. Nothing hidden. And we will all love and accept one another in spite of seeing all the warts. In fact, we won’t even see the warts. We’ll just see character. We’ll all be so covered by the blood of Jesus that we’ll look like Him—and yet we’ll be even more individual than we are here in this life. Sounds contradictory, but that’s how we’ll be.
Ø Try to imagine a world in which you didn’t have to hide anything from anybody.
Ø Try to imagine a world in which you didn’t have to be ashamed of anything.
Ø Try to imagine a world in which we are all free to relate freely to one another without having to decide what to disclose and what to try to hide.
Ø Think how relationships could blossom under those circumstances.
That kingdom sounds better to me than streets of gold and seas of glass.
David, I loved your analogy of us relating to the three courts. It is so true. We do have those three courts within us. It was a blessing to read and thought provoking. This was another great article and truth from the Lord to you and then to me. Love you, Jane