AS FOR THE PHYSICAL PROPERTIES OF THE VEILS, THEY WERE STUPENDOUS CREATIONS, THE LIKE of WHICH THE WORLD HAS NOT SEEN BEFORE OR SINCE. IF SOMEHOW RECREATED TODAY, THEY WOULD COST MULTIPLE MILLIONS, BUT IT SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE EVENSO, AS THE PROCESSES THEY USED ARE NOT KNOWN OR COULD NOT BE DONE WITH PRESENT TECHNOLOGY OR SKILLS, SINCE OURS ARE IN SOME CASES INFERIOR TO THOSE USED BY THE GOD- INSPIRED CRAFTSMEN AND WEAVERS THAT FASHIONED THE TABERNACLE AND TEMPLE VEILS. MIRACULOUS POWER AND SKILL UNKNOWN IN THE WORLD TODAY HAD TO BE GIVEN BY GOD TO THE MAKERS OF THE VEILS, OR THEY COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MADE. PRECISELY BECAUSE THESE VEILS WERE SO VITAL, TRULY A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH FOR THE PRIESTHOODS THAT SERVED THE HOLY PLACES, AND FOREMOST BECAUSE THEY SPOKE NOT ONLY OF SEPARATION BUT THE JOINING OF MAN TO GOD BY OF THE GLORIOUS CHRIST AND HIS WORK ON THE CROSS, THEY COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MADE UNLESS THEY HAD BEEN FASHIONED BY GOD GUIDING THE HANDS AND BRAINS OF MERE MEN. IF THE VEIL IS TO BE RECREATED FOR THE THIRD TEMPLE, THEN THE MAKERS WILL HAVE TO BE SIMILARLY DIVINELY INSPIRED AND GUIDED.--ED.
What must have gone through his mind as he looked at the beautiful veil. Did he think, What would it be like to enter the veil? Would I really die if I entered? Why not take just a peek into the holy of holies? The convicting answer from his conscience was, No! Don't! He vividly remembered how quickly judgment from God fell upon the notorious Nadab and Abihu when they were disobedient in their ministry [God executed them when they dared to bring "strange fire" or unsanctified fire into the Holy Place--Ed].
PLACEMENT OF THE CURTAINS
Three curtains were placed strategically in the Tabernacle, each one made of fine-twined linen into which twisted threads of blue, purple, and scarlet were interwoven (Ex. 38:18). Although beautiful to the eye, the veiled entrances of the Tabernacle were not to be objects of admiration; rather, they performed two basic functions. The word "veil" (Heb., "paroketh") means to "separate" and describes its ministry. The veil acted as a barrier between God and man, shutting God in and man out (Lev. 16:2), and the curtains permitted access to worship after the priest had met the required conditions set forth in the Mosaic law.
The first curtain, "the gate of the court" (Ex. 27:16), was seven and a half feet high and 30 feet wide and was supported by the pillars set in bronze sockets. This lcurtain separated the people from the Tabernacle court. They brought their sacrifice to the gate as an offering to God. The second curtain, the "hanging for the door of the tent" (Ex. 26:36-37), was supported by five pillars with gold hooks. The five pillars were made of acacia wood hooks that were attached tot he five bronze sockets. This curtain separated the priests in the Tabernacle court from the holy place. Only after cleansing at the brazen altar and the brazen laver could the priests enter the holy place to worship and followship with God.
The third veil, the one focused on in this chapter, diving the inside of the Tabernacle into two rooms, the holy place and the holy of holies. It hung from gold hooks supported by four pillars of acacia wood overlaid with gold anchored into four sockets of silver (Ex. 36:31-33). This veil separated the priests from the holy of holies where the presence of God dwelt. Only the high priest could enter the holy of holies once a year, on the day of atonement, to offer blood on the mercy seat for his sins and those of his people.
The veil between the holy place and the holy of holies, described as a "skillful work" (Ex. 26:31). The workers were given special divine wisdom in the making of this beautiful veil, which has never been duplicated.
The awesome figures of the cherubim woven into the veil were images of angelic beings of the highest order. Their character, beauty, and power surpass human description. Symbols of cherubim were used by other Semitic people, appearing in the likeness of wings, lions and buylls, to guard their temples and palaces. Ezekiel gave the impression that cherubim have both the characteristics of men and animals (Ezek. 10). Cherubim are symbolic of God's protective presence over the holy of holies. It was as if God had placed a continuous guard before its entrance saying, "Thus far, but no further!" They were placed at the entrance of the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve were driven out to protect the tree of life (Gen. 3:24). The veil that hung in Herod's Temple [the Second Jewish Temple] during the Lord's day was beautiful to behold, according to Jewish tradition. There were actuallyt wo veils in front of the holy of holies. The Talmud states that it wa snot known whether the veil in Solomon's Temple hung inside or outside the entrance to the holy of holies (Yoma 51). According to Maimonides, there was no wall between the holy place and the holy of holies, but a space of one cubit (about 18 inches) was assigned to it where the veil was hung. Since the priests in Herod's time did not know on which side of the cubit the veil was hung, they hung two veils, one nearer the holy place and the other nearer the holy of holies.
According to the Talmud, the veils were 60 feet long, and 30 feet wide, about the thickness of a man's palm (four inches_, and made of 72 squares that were sown together. The veils were so heavy that it took 300 priests to hang them, according to Jewish tradition.
During the time of Herod's Temple [the Second Temple], the high priest entered three times on the day of atonement. First, he entered with a censer of hot coals in one hand and incense in the other. The light of the hot coals faintly illuminated the empty room of the holy of holies, casting a shadowy red glow throughout the room. The shekinah cloud of God's glory filled the holy of holies in Solomon's Temple [the First Temple], but that glory had departed [during the time of the Second Temple, after the Captivity Period, when the Second Temple was built to take the place of the First that the Babylonians destroyed.] (Ezek. 10:18; 11:23). The ark of the covenant had been removed at the time the Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians [how it was removed, by whom, and when, is all a matter of various conjection or theorizing by various parties]. Sprinkling incense on the hot coals, the high priest watched as it was consumed, filling the room with its cloudy fragrance. Next, the high priest took the blood of a freshly slain bullock and entered the holy of holies to sprinkle it upward one time, where the ark of the covenant once stood, and downward seven times, counting as he did so in order not to make a mistake. Finally, the high priest took a he-goat, killed it, and entered a third time, offering its blood int he holy of holies just as he had done with the bullock's blood.
PROVISION THROUGH CHRIST
The veil was a graphic picture of the Lord's life and ministry. As the veil in the Tabernacle hid the glory of God, so the divine glory of God was hidden during His earthly ministry (Jn. 1:1, 14, 18). Paul wrote, "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant,a nd was made in the likeness of men" (Phil. 2:6-7). Christ, who is of the same nature and essence of God, emptied Himself, or took on the limitations of humanity without surrendering any of His attributes as deity. He voluntarily allowed the limitation of some of His divine rights during His earthly ministry. Jesus illustrated this in reference to His Second Coming when He said, "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, nor the angels of heaven, but my Father only" (Mt. 24:36). At one point in His ministry, He revealed His glory to a few disciples when He was transfigured before them (Mt. 17:2). [Yet skeptics and scoffers still claim, with clearly "stinking thinking" of unregenerate minds guiding their incredibly imbecilic statements, that Christ did not claim to be Son of God! What was that but a most clear and unquestionable demonstration of His Sonship and Deity! Just the Transfiguration alone shows He definitely was, as the Father spoke confirming that the Son was greater than the prophets, which Peter mistakenly equated with Jesus, because they appeared with Jesus transfigured.].
The colorful materials used to make the veil are typical of Christ's ministry. The fine-twined linen was an Egyptian white byssus yarn woven tighly together (twice as good as the quality of linen produced by modern technology). The white speaks of purity and righteousness. The fineness denotes the faultlessness of the material. These materials provide another picture of Christ, who, in His flesh, was without blemish and spot (I Pet. 1:19). The fine white linen is also a type of the saints of God lwho will be arrayed in fine white linen garments at the marriage of the Lamb, symbolizing their righteousness before Him (Rev. 19-7-8). [Aren't you thrilled, friend, as I am, that Christ made this possible for us, and that we will actually experience it if we are true to Him until the end, kept by his marvelous grace and mercy, as we strive with a sincere heart to be obedient and maintain clear consciences by not denying the cross in our lives?--Ed.]
The three colors woven into the veil are symbolic of Christ's incarnation, ministry, and the second advent [the Second Coming]. The blue, probably indigo, was produced by a species of shellfish [lately discovered by Israeli divers in the Red Sea, in the Gulf of Aqaba, though it was thought extinct for a thousand years or more] and speaks of Christ's coming down from heaven as the Son of God to do the Father's will (Jn. 3:13, 31; 8:23; Acts 1:11). Scarlet was a bright red dye produced from worms or grubs and provides a vivid piclture of Christ's ministry in shedding His blood to purchase our salvation (Rom. 3:25; 5:9). The purple was produced from a secretion of the purple snail (murex). Purple is the color of royalty and speaks of Christ's kingship. Jesus was from the kingly line of David (Lk. 1:32), born a King (Mt. 2:2), mocked as a King (Mt. 27:29), declared to be King at His crucifixion (Mt. 27:37), and is coming back as the King of kings and the Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16) to rule as King forever (Lk. 1:33).
Before the rending of the veil, mankind had no direct access into God's presence. But in a simplistic yet profound act, God tore away the barrier that had separated Him from sinful humanity for more than 1,500 years. Simultaneously with the death of Jesus Christ, the veil was rent. Matthew wrote, "And, behold the veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks were split" (Mt. 27:51).
Many critics of the Bible have denied that the tearing of the veil was an act of God, but there is too much evidence to the contrary. Some credit the earthquake that occurred at Christ's crucifixion for rending the veil, but this would have been impossible. The veil may have fallen to the ground during the earthquake, but it would not have been divided down the middle. In addition, the text clearly shows that the earthquake took place after the rending of the veil. If the earthquake had torn the veil, the Temple would have been damaged in the process, and there is no evidence that this happened. Neither is the view that it was hung from a large beam that broke in the middle portion.
Others claim that men tore the veil, but its size and thickness make this claim almost inconceivable. They would have had to tear it from the bottom upward, but the veil was torn from the top downward (Mt. 27:51). Further, the veil was not shredded but torn into two equal halves, howing that it was supernaturally divided.
The rending took place at the time of Jesus's death, the ninth hour (3:00 P.M.) [Mt. 27:45]. At that time, the priests were busy in the Temple preparing the evening sacrifice. Hundreds of people swere in the Temple area, and every eye witnessed this miraculous event. Awe and amazement must have struck the priests as they heard and viewed the divine stroke of God tearing the veil in half. The empty room of the holy of holies stood wide open before the priests, as if bidding them to come in--a privilege no priest, except the high priest, had enjoyed since the inception of the Tabernacle.
It was at this point that God proclaimed to the Jewish peoploe and the world that the ministration of the Jewish priesthood had ended. No longer was a high priest needed to annually atone for sin. Jesus, the true high priest, had opened the weay for mankind to come into the presence of God through His atoning blood (Heb. 6:19; 9:3-15; 10:19).
The torn veil is a picture of the torn body of Christ, who made it possible for us to worshuip at the throne of God. The same hand that tore the veil in the Temple tore the body of Jesus on our behalf. The writer to the Hebrews stated it well when he said, "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the bloood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh" (Heb. 10:19-20). Through His death, Jesus inaugurated (opened for the first time) a way for man to have direct access to God. The word NEW, meaning NEWLY SLAIN, describes Jesus' sacrifice. Although His sacrifice for our sins was once and for all performed almost 2,000 years ago, it never grows old but always seems fresh and recent for all who accept it. His shed blood is a continual fountain, but it is a living way or a life-giving way. Christ, who is the only way and life (Jn. 14:6), has made it possible for us to enter into God's presence through the veil of His flesh. He changed the veil from a barrier to a gateway.
For Christians, the rent veil means that we have a mediating high priest (I Tim. 2:5) who has opened the way for us to have access to the throne of God. It means that we can come at any time into the presence of God with the confidence that we will obtain mercy and find grace to help us in any need we wish to express.
Since we have the high and holy privilege of entering into God's presence, we are exhorted to exercise a fourfold commitment to the Lord, as expressed in Hebrews 1):22. First, we are to be cleansed for worship: "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water" (Heb. 10:22). We are not to stand far off from God, as the Israelites had to do under the Mosaic Covenant (Num. 18:22) but are, rather, to "draw near." Four conditions must be met before we can come.
We are to come with a "true heart," which means more than just coming in sincerity--we are to come in purity and with truthful motives.
We are also to come in "full assurance of faith," with the anticipation of appropriating, all that God has promised to do for those who come before Him in a right relationship.
We are to come "having our hearts sprinled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water," which was typical of the high priest who, before he could approach God, had to be sprinkled with blood of the sacrifice and wash his body at the laver. Then, and only then, could he enter the holy of holies with a pure conscience before God. We, too, must experience the cleansing power of Christ's blood, freeing us from an evil conscience of sin, so that we can come into God's presence with bold confidence in our worship.
Second, we are exhorted to have a confession before the world: "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering (for he is faithful that promised)" (Heb. 10:23). We are not to waver (lit., bend) in our faith (lit., hope) under the fire of persecution. We should not rely on our own strength but on God's, who said, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Heb. 13:5). God has promised that He will never abandon us under any circumstance; thus, we can take great comfort and encouragement in God's precious promises, which gives us the strength to stand with a consistent life before a world that opposes our faith.
Third, we are to exhort others to a life of commitment in the work: "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works" (Heb. 10:24). We are to continuous care for the spiritual welfare of fellow Christians, to provide (lit., stimulate) them to lives of love and good works in their walk before the world and fellow believers. In love we are to stir up one another to exercise the spiritual gifts that have been given to us by the Holy Spirit.
Fourth, we are exhorted not to forsake corporate worship: "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves ogether, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another,a nd so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" (Heb. 10:25). We are not to abandon the local church, as many will do in the latter days. On the contrary, we are to exhort one another to continue attending especially when we know that the Lord's coming is very nerar.
Believers have the glorious privilege of approaching God directly. But perhaps you, like many in the church, have erected the veil of cooling commitment, faulty faith, lost love for the Lord, slackness of service for the Savior, or forsaken fellowship with the family of God.
Judson W. VanDeVenter had erected a veil. But while singing in a choir during a revival campaign in Sharon, Pennsylvania, he responded to the invitation and committed his life to the Lord's service. He forsook all and became an evangelist, ministering in America, England, and Scotland. Years later he wrote about his commitment:
All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give;
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
All to Jesus I surrender,
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power,
Let Thy blessing fall on me.
The Lord stands ready to tear away the veil of division. He bids you to come in commitment to Him. Why not do like Judson VanDeVenter did and say, "All to Jesus I surrender"? Jesus surrendered for you!
This excerpted chapter has been "just a taste." It could not be divided, as every word of it builds to that magnficent climax of the call for us to surrender our all to Jesus. The book contains the entire banquet for your soul and spirit! Do yourself a great favor, Christian, one you will be so happy about, when you get this wonderful book!