Exodus 40 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Set up the Tabernacle on the first day of the new year. 3 Place the Ark of the Covenant inside, and install the inner curtain to enclose the Ark within the Most Holy Place. 4 Then bring in the table, and arrange the utensils on it. And bring in the lampstand, and set up the lamps. 5 “Place the gold incense altar in front of the Ark of the Covenant. Then hang the curtain at the entrance of the Tabernacle. 6 Place the altar of burnt offering in front of the Tabernacle entrance. 7 Set the washbasin between the Tabernacle and the altar, and fill it with water. 8 Then set up the courtyard around the outside of the tent, and hang the curtain for the courtyard entrance. NLT
Each of those three curtains: the entrance to the courtyard, the entrance to the Tabernacle within, and finally the entrance into the Holy of Holies – were designed to reveal God’s identity to people caught in the wilderness. The purpose of each curtain was to make them physically aware of the separation between the wilderness of man and the Holiness of God. The people’s words often proclaimed their desire to worship God and do all that He asked, but in reality they needed physical reminders it wasn’t their words that separated them from the presence of God but their actions, and so he gave them three curtains. The first curtain was at the entrance gate to the courtyard.
#1 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:16
They had to physically pass through that first curtain, with their offering, into a courtyard filled with visceral reminders of sin. Sin that required a substitute of blood for God’s forgiveness. In that first-step place they would “see” the second barrier; the curtain before the Holy Place that only priests could enter.
#2 for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. 1 Peter 2:9
An finally, beyond their sight, but not their imagination was the last curtain. The curtain that hid the presence of God from them. A presence so fearful that even the high priest entered with a rope tied about him so he could be pulled out in case he would be struck down because the blood of their sacrifices did not please God; the last barrier to forgiveness.
#3 Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Mark 15:37-38
And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. Hebrews 10:19-20