All Gentiles May Enter

‘No gentile shall enter within the partition and barrier surrounding the Temple, and whosoever is caught shall be solely responsible to himself for his subsequent death’

These are the words, in Greek, the international language, affixed to the Beautiful Gate between the Court of Gentiles and Court of Israel at the Temple of God in Jerusalem. It was hurled down when the Romans destroyed the place in AD70. It rather politely, yet ominously, informs non-Jews that they may come no closer to the God of Israel. Why is this? Only God’s covenant people, the Jews, could proceed beyond the gate to the sacred precincts beyond. Only priests could proceed to the building itself, and only the High Priests, annually, could enter the Holy of Holies, God’s dwelling on earth.

This stone inscription is both relevant and irrelevant today. Its relevance is that it firstly reminds us that God’s presence cannot be automatically gained by anyone. Our sin is so offensive that we cannot share the same space with a holy God. I have no right to enter Queen Elizabeth’s presence, much less the King of Heaven’s. This separation barred our first parents from Eden, it barred the Israelites from Sinai and it bars you and me from heaven.

Secondly, it reminds us of the consequences of sin. Trespassing results in death. The careless or dare-devil gentile that ignored the sign would have been summarily dispatched by the temple guards or zealous worshippers. Paul says that the wages of our sin are death; we die because we have contracted a terrible spiritual disease called sin.

Why then is it irrelevant? Quite apart from the temple’s destruction and resultant redundancy, I have more access now to YHWH then ever the first-century High Priests of Israel. Christ Himself died as a sinful trespasser that I might have free and unrestricted access to God. This means not only heaven when I die, but the presence of God here on earth when I worship, and the Spirit of God within my heart. In Christ, the sign now reads

‘All Jews and gentiles may enter God’s presence, and whosoever does shall do so solely by the blood of Him who died for trespassers.’

Hebrews 10:

19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.