The second courtyard was for Jewish women. Jewish men were allowed to proceed to the innermost courtyard. Priests, chosen by lot, could enter the outer sanctuary of the Temple. This privilege was allowed only once in their lifetime. Once they had been chosen, they were no longer allowed into the outer sanctuary for the rest of their life. The high priest could only go into the inner sanctuary on the Day of Atonement. In the first Temple, the inner sanctuary represented the presence of God. However, the ark of the covenant on which the presence rested is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible after the first temple was destroyed. I believe that when Jesus died and the veil was torn, those priests on the other side of the veil saw that the inner sanctuary was empty. There was no ark to be seen!
Why is this important?
Because the presence of God was not at the Temple. Indeed, Jesus said that a time would come when people would neither worship in Jerusalem nor Samaria. They would instead worship God in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:21-23). Saved people do this because they are given the Holy Spirit, a constant companion and reminder of God's presence. And it doesn't matter whether or not you are from a priestly family, man or woman, Jew or Gentile (Galatians 3:28), We are able to come into the very real presence of God because Jesus has made us acceptable to do so.