Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16 NKJV
At prayer meetings some of us might have heard this scripture in Hebrews 4:16 quoted a lot… but what is the throne of grace and why are we being asked to approach it with boldness? I will make an attempt to answer these two questions based on my study of this scripture.
You will need your bible, notebook and pen for this one…
What is the throne of grace?
It is definitely not what you see pictured in the feature image. 😁
Moses was directed by God to build a tabernacle and within the tabernacle there were two sections – the Holy place and the Most Holy place (Hebrews 9:2&3). The mercy seat as described in Exodus 25:17-22 was located in the Most Holy place of the tabernacle and covered the ark of the covenant. The presence of God rested on the mercy seat and from there, He spoke to Moses and the Israelites (Numbers 7:89; Exodus 25:22).
The Most Holy place was accessible once a year only to the High Priest on the day of atonement. The other priests had access to only the Holy place. According to The Lexham Bible Dictionary, ‘Atonement’ is “the means of reconciliation between God and people“. So on the day of atonement, the people are made clean before the Lord from all their sins (Leviticus 16:30). Detailed rituals performed on the day of atonement which included sprinkling the blood of prescribed animals on the mercy seat, can be found in Leviticus 16.
In Hebrews 9:23 we are told that the tabernacle and everything in it were copies of the things in heaven. Therefore the throne of grace is the original version of an element in the earthly Most Holy place because not only does the author of Hebrews encourage us to approach God’s throne of grace with boldness but encourages us to enter the Most Holy place with boldness as well. Hebrews 10:19 (spoiler alert 😅) says,
And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.
Hebrews 10:19 NLT
We can also deduce from the scripture that the throne of grace is located in the heavenly Mostly Holy place.
According to Exodus 26:31-35, the Most Holy place on earth contained only the ark of covenant and the mercy seat (referred to as the atonement cover in NIV).
“Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim woven into it by a skilled worker. Hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and standing on four silver bases. Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the covenant law behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. Put the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant law in the Most Holy Place.
Exodus 26:31-34 NIV
Also when God gave instructions on how the mercy seat should be built this is what He said in Exodus 25:17-22:
“Make an atonement cover of pure gold—two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. The cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover. Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law that I will give you. There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.
Exodus 25:17-22 NIV
Because the presence of God rested on the mercy seat it is said that the mercy seat was God’s earthly throne. So to answer the question “what is the throne of grace?“, the throne of grace is the original version of the mercy seat (see also Psalm 99:1). At the throne of grace, we receive mercy and find grace in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
Why approach the throne of grace with boldness?
On the day of atonement, the High Priest approached the mercy seat but not “boldly”. He faces immediate death for any unlawful entrance into the Most Holy place. He could not enter anytime he wanted.
The Lord said to Moses: “Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die. For I will appear in the cloud over the atonement cover.
Leviticus 16:2 NIV
So why are we being encouraged to approach God’s throne of grace – the original, with boldness. Shouldn’t we tremble with more fear?
THE BLOOD …
In the spoiler alert from Hebrews 10:19 we are told why we should approach the throne of grace with boldness. Jesus Christ offered Himself as the “single sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:12 NLT). Because of his blood we can boldly enter the Most Holy place and go before the throne of grace.
And in the same way, he sprinkled blood on the Tabernacle and on everything used for worship. In fact, according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. That is why the Tabernacle and everything in it, which were copies of things in heaven, had to be purified by the blood of animals. But the real things in heaven had to be purified with far better sacrifices than the blood of animals.
Hebrews 9:21-23 NLT
Jesus Christ was the far better sacrifice – hallelujah!
JESUS, THE GREAT HIGH PRIEST…
Jesus Christ, our great High Priest is seated “in the place of honour at God’s right hand” (Hebrews 8:1; 10:12 NLT). The High Priest (not Jesus) on the day of atonement was expected to come out of the tabernacle after atoning for the sins of the people and while he remained in the tabernacle, no one was supposed to enter the tabernacle – not even the priests (Leviticus 16:17).
According to the introduction given in my bible (The Wayfinding Bible), there were Jewish Christians who thought they still had to perform the requirements of the law annually in order to have a right standing with God. The author of Hebrews addresses these Jewish Christians and assures them that their relationship with God is secured through Jesus Christ. The author does this by proving to them that Jesus is greater than the ordinary High Priest they are accustomed to. They probably thought that they had to stay away from the throne of grace because Jesus Christ remained in the Most Holy place. But with this mindset and hesitating to approach the throne of grace, they are indirectly saying that their sins have not been atoned for.
For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. And he did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal. If that had been necessary, Christ would have had to die again and again, ever since the world began. But now, once for all time, he has appeared at the end of the age to remove sin by his own death as a sacrifice.
Hebrews 9:24-26 NLT
MERCY AND GRACE…
You might not have a background and mindset like the Jewish Christians addressed in the book of Hebrews but there might be something you have done that is preventing you from approaching God’s throne of grace. You are probably scared that when you approach the throne of grace you will be condemned. No, that’s not true! First of all, if you are a Christian (someone who believes in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and makes Him Lord over his or her life), God does not condemn you (Romans 8:8).
Prior to encouraging everyone to approach the throne of grace with boldness, the author describes how powerful the word of God is in Hebrews 4:12-13. Though it exposes our weaknesses through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, our response should not be “I’m human, I’m not perfect, or this is how i am…etc”. The exposure of our weakness through the word of God is indication that we need help and that is why we are asked to approach the throne of grace with boldness. We are not to hesitate with our call for help. At the throne of grace we receive mercy first, then grace to help us in our time of need.
What are you stuggling with? Are you struggling to love as God has commanded us to? Struggling to pray? Whatever the struggle is, approach the throne of grace with boldness. When you approach God’s throne of grace don’t be like the Pharisee in the parable in Luke 18 below. Be honest with God and He will give you the help needed through His mercy and grace.
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Luke 18:9-14 NIV
A CHOSEN RACE, ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR HIS OWN POSSESSION…
As Christians we are a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) and through Jesus Christ, we can boldly approach God’s throne of grace without the fear of being condemned to death.
In Exodus 19:5-6, they were also referred to as a kingdom of priests, a holy nation, and God’s possession but with the condition that they were obedient and kept God’s covenant.
With their own strength, the people of Israel failed to obey God and keep his covenant. They depended on the blood of animals to cleanse them from their sins. The high priest and the priests were also guilty of sin (Hebrews 9:7).
As a royal priesthood, our consciences have been purified from sin with the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:14 NLT) and as the curtain that separated the Holy place from the Most Holy place got torn at the death of Jesus Christ (Matthew 27:51), we have unlimited access not only to the Holy place but to the Most Holy place as well so let’s approach the throne of grace with boldness.
There is more to this study but it is important to note that the Israelites were delivered from the bondage of the Egyptians so that they could worship God but sin stood in the way. Through the blood of Jesus Christ, we have been set free from the bondage of sin.
With the little shared in this study, It is my prayer that you will be obedient to the leading of the Holy Spirit to be totally dependent on God and trust Him with everything you have (Romans 12:1) – Be Bold!