It must be a place that is perfect, pure and spotless. But it can't be an empty place. Otherwise there would be perfection but not holiness. An awe, reverence, sacredness would dwell there. Being holy is about something being dedicated to God, set apart for His use. So, for a place or thing to be holy must mean that it's purpose is specifically for God.
The Bible talks of such a place called the Most Holy Place. The Most Holy Place is not empty, but it's where God dwelt. He said to His people that He would live among them and He gave them instructions about what this place should be like.
Now, God living with people is a challenge.
He is holy and good, we are not so much. We mess up and God can't be around that. So when He chose to live amongst the Israelites in the Most Holy Place there were certain measures that had to be taken. These were not to separate people from God, because he'd chosen to come and live with them, but rather to protect them from the punishment their wrongdoings were due.
No regular person was permitted to enter the Most Holy Place. So this place was separated from the Holy Place by a beautifully designed and luxuriously formed curtain. It sounds like a work of art; decorated with fine linen, an array of beautiful colours, carefully woven together and covered in images of cherubim. It was rich and interesting, symbolising the majesty, royalty, purity and power of God.
The curtain is important as it shields the holiness of God from the sin of His people. People knew not to go in there. The only person permitted to enter the Most Holy Place was the High Priest, and then only once a year on a particular day. This was to say sorry for the sins of all the people. He could only enter after he'd been; scrubbed clean, put on special clothes, and given offerings. Then the high priest could go in.
If anyone else went in they died.
That's how important it is to God that we are holy.
A holy God cannot be near sin.
Holiness and sin cannot co-exist. It's impossible.
It's not because God is cruel or mean, He actually wanted to live with His people, that's why He instructed them to build the place in the first place! But God cannot compromise His character no matter how much He loves us.
It's like with our children. I cannot bear lying. I have even been known to say, "I cannot be around .....whilst they are sitting there telling lies". It's abhorrent to me. I cannot abide it. I can't stand being around it. I have to leave the room.
It's similar for God. He cannot be around liars, or sinners for that matter. So, He instructed the people to separate the place where He was going to stay so that the people were not destroyed.
“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body …let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.”
As Jesus body was torn apart, so was the curtain. When Jesus came and died for our sins, this curtain was torn from top to bottom. Not by any human hand. The curtain was too high and too thick to be ripped by even the strongest man.
No longer does the high priest have to say sorry for all we've done wrong every year, because Jesus has paid for it all.
The Most Holy Place where only God dwells is now for us all. We will no longer die if we enter. We now have the rights of the high priest, to be in presence of God, but we can enter it every day of the year if we want. That is, if we have accepted that Jesus paid that price for us. It's not because God has reduced His standards, but because His standards have been fulfilled.
Jesus is the only person who has lived up to the task of being holy, and when we enter into God's presence it is him He sees. We are holy through no work of our own, but by the gift of grace from Jesus.