The Tabernacle in the
Wilderness and the Temple in Jerusalem were divided
into two special rooms. The Holy Place and the Most
Holy Place or Holy of Holies was divided by a thick
The Holy of Holies was
the most sacred place on the earth. It was the place
that symbolized the presence of God with His chosen
people. Only one person could enter that room, and
only on one very special day of the year. On the Day
of Atonement the high priest would make atonement
for himself and then entered into the Holy of Holies
and made atonement for the people.
The moment Jesus cried
out from the cross, "It is finished!" and died that
thick curtain was torn from the top to the bottom
Until that historic
moment the veil in the Temple declared, "Keep out!"
"Do not enter!" However from that moment on the torn
veil declares, "Whosoever will come on in!"
THE VEIL IN THE TEMPLE
Moses was given
instructions by the LORD God to construct the
Tabernacle in the wilderness. It was the place where
God in His grace came down and met man. It would be
the symbolic dwelling place of the God of Israel
with His people. In this "tent of meeting," at the
center of the Israeli camp, were two rooms. One was
called the Holy Place, which was separated, by a
curtain or veil from the Holy of Holies also called
the Most Holy Place. The weavers took strands of
blue, purple and scarlet thread and wove them into a
white linen fabric so that these colors formed a
mosaic of cherubim, the guardian of God’s holiness,
which barred all entrance into the Holy of Holies.
The LORD God described
the veil for Moses in Exodus 26:31-34. "You shall
make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet material
and fine twisted linen; it shall be made with
cherubim, the work of a skillful workman. You shall
hang it on four pillars of acacia overlaid with
gold, their hooks also being of gold, on four
sockets of silver. You shall hang up the veil under
the clasps, and shall bring in the ark of the
testimony there within the veil; and the veil shall
serve for you as a partition between the holy place
and the holy of holies. You shall put the mercy seat
on the ark of the testimony in the holy of holies."
four-inch thick sixty feet by thirty feet curtain
was there to keep sinful man out of the Most Holy
Place. That thick imposing veil in the Holy of
Holies symbolized that which separated sinful man
from the holy presence of Yahweh. The only way
sinful man could ever approach a most holy God is by
means of blood. The veil shut out and kept everyone
from further approach. The curtain hung there as if
to say, "Do not enter."
The only individual who
had permission from God to enter into the Most Holy
Place was the high priest, and he could enter in
behind the veil only on the Day of Atonement with
blood of sacrifices to sprinkle on the veil and the
Mercy Seat. No one could approach the LORD God
without passing the brazen altar with the bloody
sacrifice. That huge veil kept everyone out of the
Most Holy Place. There it hung in the Temple on the
day Christ died.
Let’s journey now to the
afternoon of the crucifixion of Jesus. He has been
hanging on the cross since around 9 a.m. Suddenly
around noon a terrible thick darkness hung over
Calvary and lasted for three hours. As the three
hours of suffering was coming to an end at 3 p.m.,
Jesus cried out in God-forsakenness, "My God, My
God, why have You forsaken Me?" It was the bitter
cry of the divine sufferer experiencing the bitter
dregs of spiritual suffering as the Lamb of God.
Jesus was voluntarily laying down His life for the
redemption of the human race. It is beyond our human
ability to understand the depths of His spiritual
suffering in those three hours. He was God forsaken
of God in the temporarily broken fellowship with His
heavenly Father. Jesus’ suffering was so terrible
that God hid it from the eyes of depraved mankind.
Here is the awful climax
of the suffering of the Son of God. He was "wounded
for our transgressions" this Lamb of God. Christ was
offering Himself as the "ransom for many." The
precious blood of Jesus Christ redeemed us. In this
spiritual suffering and death Jesus paid our sin
debt to the righteousness of a holy God. Jesus on
the cross felt the way a lost sinner in hell feels
who has never put His faith in Christ to save him.
He was suffering the wrath of God against the
sinner. He bore our punishment in His atoning death.
Some of the people
thought Jesus was crying out for Elijah to come to
His rescue. A Roman soldier hearing His cry, "I
thirst," was moved by sympathy and took a sponge
filled with sour vinegar wine and pressed it to the
lips of Jesus. With His senses revived momentarily
and His parched lips and throat moistened, He gained
strength to shout, "It is finished!" In that moment
the work of redemption was completed. Nothing was
left undone. It was a shout of triumph and victory.
With a loud voice of a Conqueror He shouted, "Done!"
"Complete!" "Finished!" The job He came to do in His
incarnation was completed in full. The work of
redemption was perfected and nothing else needed to
be done by anyone. Jesus said, "Father, into Thy
hands I commend My spirit" and He died. Jesus sent
His spirit back to the Father. His death was a free
act of will, handing His spirit back to God. Jesus
died a victor. It was a triumphant shout of victory.
In that horrible moment
Matthew, Mark and Luke tell us the thick veil or
curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Most
Holy Place in the Temple was torn in two from the
top to the bottom. "And behold, the veil of the
temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the
earth shook and the rocks were split" (Matthew
The veil in the
The veil or curtain
referred to is the loose-hanging four-inch thick
curtain that hung between the Holy Place and the
Holy of Holies. There was something about the tear
itself as the veil hung there in two parts that was
obvious to anyone observing it that it was torn from
the top to the bottom. No man could have done it.
Two men could not have torn it by grabbing hold of
it at the center standing on the floor and pulling
at it. It was not jerked apart by a couple of men.
The veil did not shake to pieces. It was too thick
and cross-stitched and inner woven. The Temple was
not damaged in any way that day. The timing of the
split veil is the critical factor. The moment Jesus
died the veil was torn from the top to the bottom
and then the earth shook and rocks were split. No
violence was done to the Temple or any of its
The tearing of the veil
was independent of the shaking of the earth. The
ripping apart of the veil was the result of the
shout from the cross by Jesus, "It is finished!" The
same cry would be the cause of the earth to shake.
At the moment Christ shouted the curtain was severed
completely as if a great hand reached down and
ripped it apart from the top to the bottom.
It was clearly cut by an
invisible hand from top to bottom. No hand of sinful
man tore the veil. Nothing was displaced in the
Temple. Only the torn curtain was affected. There it
hung in two pieces; split down through the middle.
It was not randomly torn here and there. The veil
was of such tough fabric and so woven that it could
not have been rent in twain by an earthquake or
falling of a lintel.
The eye witnesses
How do you know these
events actually took place? There were eyewitnesses
at the evening sacrifices which began every day at 3
p.m. This was the day leading to the Passover which
began at the setting sun. No one would be late for
this great day of Preparation as people brought
their Passover lambs to be slain by the priests.
The priests were busy
preparing the daily evening sacrifices. Those who
were working in the outer court and in the Holy
Place before the curtain doing their duties would
have seen either the actual tearing of the veil or
the immediate results before their very eyes. All at
once, at the moment of Christ’s death the veil that
separated a most holy God and sinful man was gone!
The veil of separation that hung there in the
Tabernacle and in the Temples of Solomon, Zerubbabel
and Herod was no more effective. These eyewitnesses’
attention was suddenly drawn to the inner sanctuary.
The priests in front of the veil in the Holy Place
engaged in their responsibilities saw it happen. God
in His perfect timing had witnesses there!
What was the effect of
the torn veil that day on those eyewitnesses? After
the Day of Pentecost "a great many of the priests
were becoming obedient to the faith." One after
another they kept turning to the Lord (Acts 6:7).
Who tore the veil?
Each of the Gospel
writers implies God did it! God is behind the drama.
God caused the curtain that was hanging in the
Temple to tear in two, from top to bottom.
The critical thing in
this awesome event is the timing of the tearing of
the veil. It happened precisely the moment when
Christ died. It is no coincidence when you keep in
mind the purpose of the veil was to keep sinful man
from approaching God’s presence, and the perfect
substitutionary atonement of the Lamb of God.
Precisely at the moment when Jesus died God struck
the giant veil of separation in a straight line
downward completely through it. It was torn apart at
the loud death cry of the divine substitute. God did
it! "Finished!" "Done!" "Complete!" God is satisfied
with the sacrifice of His Son for sin. His work was
done. It was now completed. It was the cry of
accomplishment and victory. With that shout of
victory the veil was torn in two.
Mark writes, "And Jesus
uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. And the
veil of the temple was torn in two from top to
bottom" (Mark 15:37-38).
It is as if God in person
acts, as any devoted Jewish father would have done
standing by His own Son’s deathbed. He rent His
garments. The customary Jewish mourning gesture of a
father was to tear his outer garment. Because God
reached down and tore the veil in two we now have
full and free entrance into the presence of God
through His Son, Jesus Christ.
God threw open the Most
Holy Place to all men. The way is open now for all
men to come boldly to the throne of grace through
the atoning death of Christ. Following the
supernatural tearing of the veil came the
The tearing of the veil
reminds us of the vicarious substitutionary
sacrifice of the Lamb of God.
The scene at the Temple
was never a pretty picture. It was never intended to
be beautiful. It is a picture of our human
depravity. It is a picture of our wickedness. It is
a picture of the wages of sin. Without the shedding
of blood there is no remission for our sins.
Inside the Holy of Holies
in the Tabernacle was the wooden chest, which
contained the Law, a pot of manna and the budded rod
of Aaron. It was a testimony and symbol that God was
present with His people. The top of the Ark of the
Covenant was a slab of pure gold called the Mercy
Seat. It was the kapporeth or the cover,
"covering" or removal of sin by means of the
expiatory sacrifice. This lid cover of the ark was
where God made propitiation. It was the place where
the blood of the sin offering was sprinkled, whereby
atonement was made and the wrath of God was turned
away. Justice and mercy met on the Mercy Seat. The
blood of the offering was sprinkled, whereby
atonement was made. The blood of the innocent
sacrifice met the demands of the Law of God. It was
the Old Testament throne of grace where Jehovah
exhibited His holy presence and when God met man in
grace. It was God’s gracious provision for sinful
"You shall put the mercy
seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put
the testimony which I will give to you. There I will
meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from
between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of
the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I
will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel"
All this is symbolism of
course, and behind the symbolism is the reality of a
holy and righteous God who reached down to sinful
man in love and grace. His holy and righteous
demands were satisfied in the sacrifice of His
innocent Son who died as atonement for sinful man.
Matthew and Mark make it
clear—the rending of the veil followed immediately
upon the death of Christ. In deed, it is accurate to
say it "occurred at the moment of that death." It
was through the death of Christ that a way into the
heavenly sanctuary was opened. The only person who
could die the only kind of death that would satisfy
the justice of God and save lost mankind was Jesus
It was a voluntary
sacrifice. He chose to die for our sins. He chose to
die in our place.
around the sacrificial death of Jesus.
There was no longer any
need for the high priest to take blood within the
veil to make atonement. The one perfect sacrifice
rendered all other sacrifices incomplete and
ineffective. Only the blood of Jesus cleanses us
from all sin (1 John 1:6-9).
"For it is impossible for
the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. . .
. By this will we have been sanctified through the
offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Every priest stands daily ministering and offering
time after time the same sacrifices, which can never
take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice
for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF
GOD, waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES
BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET. For by one
offering He has perfected for all time those who are
sanctified" (Hebrews 10:4, 10-14).
Body of Jesus was
Jesus "put away our sins
by the sacrifice of Himself" (Hebrews 9:26). Jesus
took His own blood into the greater Tabernacle in
heaven to appear in the presence of His
eternal-endless life before God the Father as our
righteousness through faith in His blood. He is an
eternal, ever present living witness that our sin
debt has been paid in full at the cross.
The unbroken secrecy of
1500 years was now open for all mankind to view. The
way into the holy presence of the living God is now
open for all. The invitation is "Whosoever will may
come." God shouts there are no secrets. There is no
secret way into a deeper experience with God!
The writer of Hebrews
speaks of the "veil of His flesh" referring to the
human life of Jesus offered up in sacrifice to God.
The way of approach to God has been opened up by the
sacrifice of Jesus. The veil symbolizes the body of
Jesus. His body was torn and His blood was shed to
make atonement for our sins. With His death and
resurrection He opened the door to eternal life.
The "righteous for the
unrighteous" suffered and died "that He might bring
us to God" (1 Peter 3:18).
The "blood of Jesus"
procured for the believer the right to enter into
the holiest place where God dwells. The atonement of
Christ has removed every legal obstacle between God
and believers. Our sin has been atoned for and we
have been forgiven. We have been clothed with the
righteousness of Jesus Christ. His perfect sacrifice
for sin has fulfilled all the demands of the law,
removed the curse and the veil of separation between
us and God. Nothing stands in the way for our
entering into God’s presence.
Can you imagine what
affect that torn veil hanging there in the Holy of
Holies had on that Passover celebration the day
Christ died? The Door is open! Come on in!
THE VICTORY OF THE
Christ is our Mercy Seat.
He is our propitiation that turns away the wrath of
God. He is the removal of all our sins. "Therefore
let us draw near with confidence to the throne of
grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace
to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16). In a slash
of the mighty hand of God the veil and all that it
represented came to an end. God through the
sacrifice of His own Son opened the way into His
We have open access
Every believer of the
Lord Jesus Christ may now enter in as priests
interceding on behalf of a lost world. Every
obstruction to an intimate love relationship with
God has been removed once for all. It has been
eternally removed for all who will believe on Jesus
Christ as their Savior.
The rent veil in the
Temple was a symbol of the rent body of Jesus
Christ, the Son of God. The veil of His body was
torn. The curtain is the way into the Most Holy
Place where God dwells in heaven (Hebrews 10:19-20).
Heaven is opened up for all who take refuge in Jesus
The untorn veil reminds
us of God’s holiness which separates the sinner from
His presence. It reminds us of His wrath which
opposes sin. No sinner can approach God because God
cannot tolerate sin. What is the solution? The blood
of Jesus Christ covers all our sins. The cross of
Jesus is our only way of acceptance with God.
No one can escape the
dark reality of sin. Everywhere I travel in the
world I see the effects of the ravages of sin and
depravity. But I also see the effects of the grace
of God in the lives of individuals who have turned
to the Savior. There are no barriers to keep men and
women, boys and girls from coming to the torn veil
and receiving the free gift of eternal life.
Melanchthon, the friend
of Martin Luther said, "Faith alone in the mercy and
grace of God in Jesus Christ is our righteousness."
Indeed, Christ is my righteousness.
The writer of Hebrews
says, "Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence
to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a
new and living way which He inaugurated for us
through the veil, that is, His flesh" (Hebrews
Because the perfect
sacrifice of Christ on our behalf, we can now boldly
and confidently approach God in worship, prayer and
fellowship with Him. The sacrifice of Jesus makes it
possible for us to enter into an intimate love
relationship with Jesus Christ. Because of His holy
once-for-all offering, we have been sanctified once
for all and now we can continually "draw near,"
"keep on drawing near" with a "true heart" in full
assurance of faith" (v. 22). He has made us priests
and He expects us to be active in the priesthood of
the believer by encouraging one another to be
constantly holding fast in faith in God.
What a contrast the
writer of Hebrews puts before us. The curtain in the
Most Holy Place guarded the entrance into what
symbolized the holy presence of Yahweh. Now he
declares that the believer in Jesus Christ can enter
with "boldness" into the heavenly sanctuary where
Jehovah actually dwells. "We have confidence to
enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus" (10:19).
He is referring to the Holy of Holies. We have this
boldness or confidence to enter into God’s presence
in heaven through the bloody sacrifice of Christ on
Before the perfect
sacrifice of Christ, the Jewish people could not
enter boldly into the Holy of Holies. They were
forbidden. The veil guarded the entrance, and only
one person as the representative of the people could
enter only on one special day of the year and only
after having offered up sacrifices for himself and
the people could he enter (9:1-10).
Then Christ came and on
the cross "through His own blood, He entered the
holy place once for all, having obtained eternal
redemption." The writer of the book of Hebrews says,
"But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the
good things to come, He entered through the greater
and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands,
that is to say, not of this creation; and not
through the blood of goats and calves, but through
His own blood, He entered the holy place once for
all, having obtained eternal redemption" (9:11-12).
Today the believer in
Christ comes knowing he has been cleansed, set apart
to God, and made perfect by the sacrifice of Christ.
Because He died for us, we have received a free
right of access into the holy presence of the LORD
God. The author of Hebrews urges his readers to come
boldly to the throne of grace.
We can with boldness
enter to God’s presence right now without ritual and
without performance, because Jesus Christ restored
the broken relationship caused by our sins.
Because of what took
place in the dark, silent solitude of the three
hours of suffering on the cross, we are now invited
to keep on continually drawing near with a sincere
heart in full assurance of faith in Christ.
There is another contrast
that torn veil says to us. The Jewish priest had to
enter often, day after day, year after year,
offering up sacrifices for 1500 years. It was a
constant daily reminder of sin, and the penalty of
sin that had to be paid.
Jesus is the Door
But now our great high
priest has opened a way into God’s presence that
remains open forever. Jesus said, "I am the way, and
the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father
but through Me" (John 14:6).
Jesus is the door, and
there is no other door into God’s presence. That
door always stands wide open for all who will come
in by faith through the blood of Jesus. There is no
other way except by way of His blood. All roads do
not lead to heaven. All of them go to hell except
the narrow way of the cross of Jesus Christ.
All who believe on Jesus
Christ are invited to enter "through the veil" of
His body into the very throne room of God. He
invites us into His true and spiritual dwelling
place. There is no longer a thick curtain separating
us from the LORD God. The believer of the Lord Jesus
may now enter into the heavenly abode and enjoy the
direct communion and fellowship with God the Father
by the blood of Jesus. He obtained our eternal
redemption once for all through His own blood. We
have been released from the payment of the penalty
of sin by the blood of Christ. We have been
liberated and set free by His payment. Now we are
free to come into His presence.
The ground of our
acceptance into the presence of God is by means of
the blood of Jesus. We have equal right of entrance
into the Holy of Holies by His blood. His sacrifice
Jesus opened up this new
and living way into the Most Holy Place. When Jesus
rose from the dead, He became our ever-living
sacrifice and our only way to the Father. He is
always in the presence of God the Father and in
effect making our pathway clear.
Ephesians 2:18 tells us
Jesus takes us by the hand and personally introduces
us to the Father. Through Jesus Christ we have our
"access in one Spirit to the Father." He takes us
and leads us into the presence of the Father. We
have the freedom to enter through the assistance of
another. He is the way, the truth and the life. "But
now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off
have been brought near by the blood of Christ"
(Ephesians 2:13). The veil has been removed. There
are no barriers. There are no hidden secrets, no
rituals, no additional sacrifices, and no sacraments
that we must employ to enter into God the Father’s
presence. The door is wide open! Enter in! Come one,
The door of access into
the presence of God is thrown wide open. There God
The death of Jesus
Christ opens that door.
We have a right
relationship with God by trusting in the finished
work of Jesus Christ. The forgiveness that God
provides in Jesus Christ wipes away the whole of our
We do not have to go back
and offer daily sacrifices, or yearly sacrifices to
God. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ was the
all-sufficient sacrifice that covers all our sins.
John Broadus said,
"Christ, our high priest, has entered the true Holy
of Holies in heaven, offering once for all the
all-sufficient atoning sacrifice of His own blood
(Heb. 9:11-28); and now in His name we may look
without dread upon the very throne of God, and come
with boldness to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16;
Through the death of
Jesus Christ, we can now enter into intimate
relationship with God. We now have "boldness" (parresia),
outspokenness, frankness, plainness of speech to
approach God with freedom and confidence. This
freedom of speech and outspoken boldness to address
God is due entirely to Christ’s merit, not ours. His
blood cleansed our way, and God has promised to
remember our sins no more.
"This hope we have as an
anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast
and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus
has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a
high priest forever according to the order of
Melchizedek" (Hebrews 6:19-20).
Will you please come to
the Father by way of the cross right now? "For
Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for
the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having
been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in
the spirit" (1 Peter 3:18).
The eternal purpose of
God has been "carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord,
in whom we have boldness and confident access
through faith in Him" (Ephesians 3:11-12).
PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS
When the veil was torn
that which kept man from God’s presence was
Your sins and my sins
have been totally removed, and we can now enter into
fellowship with God. Sin was the thing that
separated man from God and Jesus Christ has
completely and forever removed it for all who call
upon His name. The way into the presence of God is
open to all men everywhere. The veil is removed
forever. The torn curtain was symbolically
representing the way into the presence of God by the
death of Jesus.
God invites every sinner
to come to Him by way of the cross.
We may now come to God
with the fullest assurance because He has accepted
us "in the Beloved" (Eph. 1:6).
When the curtain came
down the wall of separation between Jewish and
non-Jewish believers came down with it.
The blood of Jesus brings
every believer near. No longer is there a wall that
separates the Jewish and the non-Jewish believers.
Everyone who believes on Jesus can now enter within
the veil. All may now enter into the Most Holy Place
of God’s presence through the blood of Jesus Christ.
"But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far
off have been brought near by the blood of Christ"
The torn veil says to
every believer in Jesus Christ to enter in often.
There is no valid reason
why we should hesitate for one moment any time,
anywhere to draw near to our Father in perfect
freedom of spirit. That is the whole point; He wants
us to come to Him often.
Jesus Christ is the open
door into the presence of God the Father.
It was no minor tear of
the curtain. The veil was bisected and could no
longer function to keep people out of the Holy of
Holies. And there is no other door. Jesus said, "I
am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one
comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6). The
apostle Peter preached after Christ had risen from
the dead and ascended into heaven, "And there is
salvation in no one else; for there is no other name
under heaven that has been given among men by which
we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
Will you please come now
by faith though the open door into God’s presence?
Jesus said, "I am the door; if anyone enters through
Me, he shall be saved" (John 10:9).
27:51 Who Tore the Veil?
Series: Life of