It had hung there across the years. It looked as if it might hang there forever. Gorgeously embroidered with cherubim, the massive blue, purple, and scarlet curtain hung before the inner most chamber of the Temple. Behind this dense and formidable drape was the dark and silent Holy of Holies where God was said to dwell. The very name of the veil in Hebrew (poreketh) is foreboding in its meaning – “a separation”. Diligently it kept its shrouded secret. Then suddenly one day, one unbelievable day, it was torn top to bottom by invisible hands. The dreadful separation was over.
Whatever we believe about this mysterious event, one thing is clear: to Matthew, Mark, and Luke who recorded the event, it was alive with symbolism. They declared the rending of the temple veil had happened at precisely the moment when Jesus had breathed His last breath on Mount Calvary. They knew that it was not coincidence, but was steeped in significance. It symbolism was clear to the disciples of old and it should be clear us today. The rent veil before the ‘mercy seat’ teaches many things, and in each of them the death of Christ is fundamental.
The veil was seen as a type of Christ’s human body. Accordingly, it was supernaturally torn in two when Christ died, granting instant access to God to everyone who approaches on the ground of faith in Christ. The obstructed way to God was now open.
The rending of the veil reveals the innermost heart of God. Questions about God have always plagued man. What is God like? Is He an indifferent creator? Does He see our suffering? Does He care? Does He know about my little corner of the world? These questions and a thousand more swirl around us. No matter the degree of our education or the extent of our sophistication, we find no answers. Groping and searching, we find only an impenetrable veil. There is no answer, except in the death of our Lord on Calvary. His death rends the veil. It provides answers our questions. It goes beyond words. It is a living deed plowed into history, a once and for all fact towering over time.
Words alone cannot prove love, not finally, not completely. God said, “Come let us reason together …”; but even the most eloquent speech, the most divine dialog could not prove love. The Father made His prophets a herald voice to men. But even the words of God, burning and flaming on the lips of the prophets could not do it. He sent Jesus to preach the Sermon on the Mount appealing to men to trust God. Even the beautiful, powerful, persuasive words of Jesus couldn’t do it. When it seemed that God Himself could do no more, He did. He sent His only Son. Matthew 21:37: “But last of all he sent his son.” In a moment, the heights and depths of God’s love were revealed. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Look at the cross and know God loves you that much. The veil of separation is torn asunder.
Another wonderful lesson can be learned from the rent veil. It represents the opening of a way of access to God. Before the veil was torn, only one man in Israel, the High Priest, on one day a year was allowed behind that great curtain of separation into the Holy of Holies. What strange irony that the only one in Jesus’ day that had the privilege was Caiaphas, the very one who had plotted the death of Jesus. All others, even sincere, seeking souls, crying out for the living God, were shut out by the VEIL! There was no access to the ‘mercy seat’ and no chance to come into the presence of the eternal. The veil seemed to shout, “Keep Out!” But now by the death of Jesus, a right of way was opened. There was now a new testament. “So, brothers and sisters, we are completely free to enter the Most Holy Place without fear because of the blood of Jesus’ death. We can enter through a new and living way that Jesus opened for us. It leads through the curtain(veil) – Christ’s body.” (Hebrews 10:19-20, NCV) His body was torn so that every barrier to God might be torn asunder. Hear the Father say, “Let whosoever will come!”
Although many other lessons could be presented, let me conclude with this final one. The rent veil stands for a confirming (validating) Hope! It is a beautiful life-changing Hope. Listen to the magnificent words recorded in Hebrews 6:19-20 (NCV): “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and strong. It enters behind the curtain (veil) in the Most Holy Place in heaven, where Jesus has gone ahead of us and for us.”
We may follow Christ’s footsteps through the rent veil into the sunburst of eternity. The sting and fear of separation and death are rent in two! Praise His Name. Receive Christ as your personal Savior, and the veil of sin that separates you from God will be rent in two.
~ Brother Roy