When we consider the Jewish temple at the time of Christ’s crucifixion, the veil divided the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. Inside the veil was the ark of the covenant – and outside were the various holy elements of Jewish worship.
The veil was to be made exactly as described in Exodus.
“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 holy.” – Exodus 26:31-33 (KJV).
It was to completely separate the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple. It was a huge, heavy weaving which was impossible to tear by hand. There was always to be this separation and the Ark of the testimony was only to be visited by the high priest. Only he could enter, and – even then – only under strict conditions in pain of death.
“And the Lord spake unto Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the Lord, and died. 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.” – Leviticus 16:1-2 (KJV).
So, only the high priest could enter, and only once a year and then bearing a blood sacrifice.
“And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times. Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat: And he shall make an atonement for the holy place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins: and so shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness. – Leviticus 16:14-16 (KJV).
The congregation of Israel had no access to the Holy of Holies, with a death penalty to any who were not priests. This was the Jewish system at the time of Christ’s death. Thus, the Lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice, gave His blood for humanity in the place of the old system. This was done for you and for me. It is forever personal to His creation. The blood sacrifice for sin was accepted by God and the old Jewish system was replaced in a stroke. The veil was destroyed at the cross.
“And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.” – Mark 15:37-38 (KJV).
“And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, He said, Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit: and having said thus, He gave up the ghost. – Luke 23:43-46 (KJV).
In Hebrews chapter nine, the connection is made clear. Christ is the permanent High Priest for all the world. Not by the blood of animals but His own blood, obtaining eternal redemption. He is now the mediator between God and man. No longer are earthly priests required, for now there is an eternal High Priest interceding for His people. No longer does the High Priest enter the Holy of Holies once a year for the people.
The veil is torn, destroyed and Christ has opened Heaven to all who will believe.
“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” – Hebrews 9:27-28 (KJV).
When Christ said “…it is finished…” – it was. We are brought to salvation by the blood of Jesus Christ.
“But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:14-18 (KJV).
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About the author
Barrie Hanson lives in Bluff, Southland. He has been a Christian for over 40 years and in that time he has been a preacher, Pastor and a church helper in both Auckland and Hamilton.
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