To the very rear of the Temple was a space thirty by thirty that had been set aside by King Solomon for the most Holy place on earth; the Holy of Holies, the dwelling place of the living God. Finally, after 400 years (since He brought them out of Egypt), there would be permanent housing for the Almighty God of Israel. No more dusty, old tent, no more moving from here to there; finally there would be a house worthy of their God. The walls from floor to ceiling were paneled with cedar planks from Tyre to the north. There was gold everywhere you looked; on the walls, ceiling, and floor. Two, fifteen foot tall, cherubim carved from olive wood stood magnificently in this the inner most sanctuary of the Temple. The wingspan of the two, gold plated, angel – like figures was fifteen feet each; their tips touched each wall and each other in the middle. Beneath the cherubim was placed the Ark of the Covenant; where the most sacred objects of the Israelites were stored. The dream of King David had finally come to life through his son Solomon.
This glorious, beautifully adorned room meant to house the living; loving, accessible God of Israel was fearfully hidden behind a thick curtain never to be seen by Jewish eyes again. The High Priest was the only Israelite permitted into the Holy of Holies and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement. There is one question that has puzzled scholars and thinkers throughout the centuries; if the High Priest was the only one permitted into this, the most Holy place then who cleaned the Holy of Holies?
Granted, there are a million other more pertinent and pressing questions in the world than who cleaned the Holy of Holies. It is not even a relevant question in today’s society; after all the Israelites Temple was destroyed in AD 70 and has never been rebuilt. What do we care about the Holy of Holies, or who cleaned it? This place does not exist anymore; or does it? Perhaps we should ask some other questions first. The first question obviously is where is the Holy of Holies today? If it does exist then who is permitted into the Holy of Holies? Finally, if it does exist, does it even need to be cleaned? Let’s take a closer look at these questions.
Where is the Holy of Holies today? The Bible tells us that the Holy of Holies was located in the Temple in Jerusalem, but the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. So where is the Temple today, have the Jewish people rebuilt it somewhere else? No they haven’t; Jerusalem is the Holy city, to build anywhere else would not work. So where does the living God reside? The Apostle Paul reveals the location of the Temple in I Corinthians 9:16 when he says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple to God?” The Temple is our bodies; therefore it would not be too much of a stretch to say that the Holy of Holies is located within our bodies (the Temple). The Holies Of Holies, after all, was intended to be a place that Israel could look at and know that their God was with them. It was a place where they could physically see and feel God’s Presence (for more check out the Exodus story and look out for the cloud).
If the Holy of Holies exists then who is permitted in? We have determined that the Holy of Holies does in fact exist and that it is located within our bodies, or as Paul put it, “the temple of God”. In the old days only the High Priest was permitted inside the Holy of Holies and then only one day a year. So who is permitted into this most holy place now? First God is permitted in; it is where He lives after all. Secondly the High Priest which is Jesus Christ the Highest of the High Priests. What about you? You would not have been permitted inside in the old days, but what about now? Definitely, the Holy of Holies was initially established, by God, as a place where He could be close to His people, where they could be close to Him, and where we could have that personal relationship with our Father. Man and his arrogance and fears kept him out of the Holy of Holies; God has always wanted us to be with Him. When Jesus died on the Cross you will remember the account of the curtain being torn, that was an invitation to you to enter.
Finally who cleans the Holy of Holies? When Paul spoke about the temple being our bodies, he did so that we would think twice about what we let inside the Temple. He was, in fact, stating that we are to clean the Holy of Holies. What Paul fails to remind us of is that if we cannot be responsible enough to clean the Holy of Holies; then God will. The truth of the matter is that God does not like a dirty house and He has been cleaning His house since day one. Who cleans the Holy of Holies? You do; or God will.