I could study nothing but Scripture and John Owen’s Commentary on Hebrews for the rest of my life, and I would not feel constricted at all. There is so much to it. Today for sermon prep I was reading Owen on 10:19: “we have confidence to enter the holy places.” Holy places refers to the Most Holy Place, or innermost room, of the Old Testament tabernacle, which typified God’s presence. Owen writes:
“The nature of gospel worship consists in this, that it is an entrance with boldness into the presence of God. However men may multiply duties, of what sort of nature soever they be, if they design not in and by them to enter into the presence of God, if they have not some experience that so they do, if they are taken up with other thoughts, and rest in the outward performance of them, they belong not unto evangelical worship. The only exercise of faith in them is in an entrance into the presence of God” (Vol. 7, p. 502).
In other words, if we do not seek the presence of God in our Christian duties, they are not really Christian duties at all. We are, in a sense, going back to pre-Christian Judaism, like these Hebrew Christians were being tempted. Confidence/assurance/boldness in the presence of God is as distinctive of Christian worship as the cross of Calvary is distinctive of Christian salvation. In our small group meetings, our devotional readings, our prayer, our evangelism, our fellowship, do we seek the presence of God? Without it we are making no progress in Christianity whatsoever.