Thursday, June 28, 2012

The rending of the veil

I am a grace believer and I understand right division and I have a question.  What significance was there to the rending of the temple veil between the holy place and most holy place in the temple at the death of Christ have?  Did it signify the end of something?  Thank you for considering this question.

Thank you for your question.  The rending of the veil is recorded in the books of Matthew, Mark and Luke, but not in the book of John, interestingly enough.  We’ll look at the reason why a little later.

This is when the Lord Jesus Christ is being crucified.  Israel has rejected him as Messiah and they have delivered him to the Romans to be scourged, beaten, spit upon and ultimately crucified.

Mark 10:34
And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.

Mark 15:15
And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.

Let’s look at the passage in Matthew 27 in our King James Bible. 

Matthew 27:50-51
Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost [he died].  And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

Did this signify the end of something?  The short answer is yes. 

First of all, what is this veil?  There was a veil in the tabernacle and then later in the temple that divided the holy place from the most holy place.

God gave Moses some instructions about the veil when he brought the people out of Egypt.

Exodus 26:31-34
And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made:  And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver.  And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holyAnd thou shalt put the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy place.

The veil divided the holy place from the most holy place where God was present on the mercy seat.  Blue represents the heavenlies.  Purple represents royalty.

In 2 Chronicles, we see crimson, is another word for scarlet.

2 Chronicles 3:14
And he made the vail of blue, and purple, and crimson, and fine linen, and wrought cherubims thereon.

Scarlet and crimson represent blood.

Joshua 2:18
Behold, when we [Joshua and the Israelites] come into the land, thou [Rahab] shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father's household, home unto thee.

Jesus paid it all;
All to him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain;
He washed it white as snow.

…and fine twined linen of cunning work…

Fine linen represents righteousness.

Revelation 19:8
And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

…with cherubims shall it be made

The cherubims represent the holy presence of Almighty God.  Wherever God is, the cherubim are there.  They are defenders of his holiness.  All these are types and shadows of the Lord Jesus Christ.

What exactly does the veil represent with regard to the Lord Jesus Christ?  I have heard all types of things about that passage, but quite frankly what it represents is laid out in Hebrews.  When you search for the word ‘veil’ in a concordance, it is mentioned in the Gospels Matthew, Mark and Luke, as well as the book of Hebrews which is an epistle written to and about the nation of Israel, especially in the future.  And although Hebrews is not an epistle of Paul’s written for, to and about us today, Hebrews is beneficial to us as it expands on things that we first learn about in the old testament about the tabernacle and later the temple.

Hebrews 6:19-20
Which hope we [the Hebrew people] have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

Whatever this hope is, it allows them to enter within the veil by passing through the holy place into the holy of holies – the very presence of Almighty God.  That is what the veil represents – the division/separation that we saw in Exodus.

Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

Remember who was allowed to go behind the veil – the high priest, and only once a year on the day of atonement.

Numbers 18:7
Therefore thou and thy sons with thee shall keep your priest's office for everything of the altar, and within the vail; and ye shall serve: I have given your priest's office unto you as a service of gift: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.

Leviticus 16:2-3
And the Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.  Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering.

Jesus was made a high priest forever, not after Levi but after the order of Melchisedec; an everlasting high priest.  He liveth forever.

Genesis 14:18
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.

Psalm 110:4
The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.

Almighty God is in the most holy place and he allows them to go in there.  So what we see in the rending of the temple veil is this entrance into the very presence of Almighty God through Jesus Christ.  What he accomplished with his death was that the believing Jew, the remnant of Israel, could now come to God.  According to Hebrews, that veil actually represents his body.

Hebrews 10:19-20
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest [most holy place] by the blood of Jesus, [When was his blood shed?  When he died on Calvary’s cross.  You asked if the rending of the veil represented something that was ending; watch this…] By a new and living way, [Not that old covenant way, but the new way.  Not that dead way, but the new way…] which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

So the rending of the veil was a picture of the physical death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.  When he died at the ninth hour of the day (3 p.m.), it was the time of the evening burning of the incense.  So the priest and his assistants would have been in the holy place to see this happen.

Exodus 30:8
And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations.

In addition, there were earthquakes and rocks rent as signs to Israel.  The rending of the veil was a sign to the priest that they had just killed their Messiah and that the Levitical priesthood was coming to an end.

The veil represents Christ’s flesh crucified on the cross.  The rending of the veil from top to bottom shows that it was God who did it; no man could do it.  Now there is access to Almighty God’s presence through the physical, bodily death of the Lord Jesus Christ.

But there is also a lot represented there about what took place in his inner man – in his soul – when God made his soul an offering for sin.

Isaiah 53:10
 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

…but, that is a whole other study in itself. 

What is the end represented by the rending of the veil? 
It is the end of the old way of coming to God through the law.  Now there is a new way of coming to God consecrated for the people of Israel and that is through Jesus; but specifically through his death.  He needed to die in order for them to come into the holy presence of Almighty God.

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