“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 KJV)
The book of Hebrews was originally written to the Jews that were converted to Christianity, those who believed that Jesus was the Messiah they were waiting for. The author focused on showing how the Old Testament laws were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. He emphasized Jesus’s role as the high priest of God’s people. He also explained to his readers how the relationship with the Father changed because of Christ.
It is important to understand those concepts so we can better comprehend the revelation that God gave, starting with the Old Testament, how Jesus fits that revelation, and what changed after His death and resurrection. Hebrews 4:16 tells us of an important change that Jesus brought to the relationship between God and people. Let’s take a closer look at this verse.
#1 The Fear of the Presence of the Lord
First, you need to understand one important concept that was very familiar to the Jews back then: the fear of the presence of God. After leaving Egypt, the Israelites came to Mount Sinai to worship the Lord and receive His Law (Exodus 19). However, when they heard His voice, they were terrified. They thought that sinners like them would never survive in the presence of a Holy God. So, they pleaded that God would no longer speak directly to them. So, from that moment on, God spoke to the people of Israel through prophets, starting with Moses (Exodus 20:18-19 and Deuteronomy 5:23-31).
There are other examples, but let’s talk about the Tabernacle in the desert and the Temple in Jerusalem. There was a special room in both buildings where God manifested His presence. It was called “Most Holy Place.” This is where the Ark of the Covenant was, with the Mercy Seat on top of it (Exodus 25:21-22, 26:34). The only person who could enter the Most Holy Place was the high priest, once a year, on the Day of Atonement. He wasn’t allowed to enter that room on any other day, or he would die (Leviticus 16:2). So, the Old Testament shows us that people were very afraid of being in the presence of the Lord.
#2 We Can Come to the Throne of Grace
A throne is where a king reigns over his kingdom. The throne of grace in verse 4:16 represents the sovereign presence of God. Note that the word “grace” hints that His presence is not fearsome. It is a graceful presence for those who come to Him through Jesus (Ephesians 2:18).
The author of Hebrews explained that Jesus is our High Priest (Hebrews 5:6,10). In the Old Testament, a priest “stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins” (Hebrews 10:11 NKJV). However, Jesus offered His own life to pay for our sins, once and for all (Hebrews 10:10). Once forgiven, we have access to the Father through Christ (Ephesians 3:12). Because of Him, we are free from the condemnation that would have cost our lives (Romans 8:1).
#3 We Can Come Boldly
Jesus experienced life as a human. So, “we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15 NKJV). This is why we can come with confidence to the Father’s presence. Jesus knows what it is like to be tempted like we are. He is touched by our weaknesses. So, He intercedes for us (Romans 8:34).
When we approach God, we need to remember that we are his children, and He is our dear Father (Romans 8:15). There is no need to be afraid, for Jesus’s sacrifice paid for our sins, and God said he would “remember no more” our sins (Hebrews 10:17-22).
#4 Mercy and Grace in Time of Need
The author of Hebrews invites us to come boldly to God’s presence through Jesus. Now, instead of a terrifying presence or judgment, we “obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 KJV). Instead of deserved wrath and punishment, we receive mercy. Instead of being eternally apart from God because of our sins, we find grace and the loving presence of our Father.
The psalmist wrote that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1 KJV). The Lord knows the right moment to provide what we need. And the moment we repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, mercy and grace flow from the throne of God into our lives (2 Corinthians 6:2).
Jesus Christ, our High Priest, has given us access to the Father. Now we can boldly come to His presence through faith in Jesus, our Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5). We come with respect, but we don’t need to be afraid for our lives anymore. Because of Jesus, we don’t find the condemnation we deserve there. We find what we don’t deserve: mercy and grace. So, let’s approach the throne of grace in prayer, in worship, and enjoy the Lord’s presence now and for all eternity.
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.