Before Christ’s death, only the high priest could enter into God’s presence. He could do this only once a year, on the Day of Atonement, after performing many elaborate cleansing rituals. He would enter humbly, wearing only a linen ephod rather than his normal ornate vestments. The Holy of Holies was shut off behind a maze of thick veils, and it would be impossible for even other priests to catch a glimpse of the inner sanctum. It would be a radical idea to Jews of the time that one could simply enter into the presence of God with boldness and full access to His throne. But through the atoning blood of Christ we are fully cleansed from sin and can therefore approach and commune with the Holy One.
After expounding on God’s rich blessings to the world through his mercy and wisdom and how amazed he was that God would use him to spread the gospel, Paul encouraged the believers not to be discouraged by his current situation. He counted all things as loss for the sake of Christ. He knew that some might see his chains and turn from belief in Jesus, but instead Paul saw his imprisonment as a way to further the kingdom of God, especially among the Gentiles. Some preachers today talk about how God wants to bless you with worldly gifts and a life of ease. This is completely unbiblical. God wants to transform you into the image of Christ. He wants to sanctify you and help you grow. Usually this only happens through trials. Paul used his trials for the glory of God, and I pray that we can do the same.
It is not a question of God allowing or not allowing things to happen. It is part of living. Some things we do to ourselves, other things we do to each other. Our Father knows about every bird which falls to the ground, but He does not always prevent it from falling. What are we to learn from this? That our response to what happens is more important than what happens. Here is a mystery: one man’s experience drives him to curse God, while another man’s identical experience drives him to bless God. Your response to what happens is more important than what happens. –Chip Brogden