Going to Bible studies and reading about Christ’s crucifixion and how, at the moment he died, the veil of the temple was torn in two never really meant that much to me until during my research I found that some basic facts about it that totally changed my perspective. When you hear the word curtains you always figured something like the ones you have at home and it really wouldn’t be that difficult to tear. Although when you read things like it was so heavy it took 300 men just to lift it and move it, that changes the perspective. Also the meaning behind it is very significant.
Matthew 27:50-51 says, “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the huge curtain (60 feet long, 30 feet high, and about 4 inches thick; composed of 72 squares sewn together; so heavy that it required 300 men to lift it) that formed the barrier between the Shekinah presence of God and all human beings.”
Notice the details: 1) Jesus died, 2) the enormous curtain was torn in half, and 3) the tear was from top to bottom, clearly indicating the destruction was not man-made, but came from God.
This veil (along with all of the Temple details) represented the separation between God and humanity because of our sins. No one was permitted to pass through the veil into God’s presence except for the High Priest, once a year (Day of Atonement), with the blood of an unblemished goat for the sins of the people.
Hebrews 8:1-2 notes, “Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.” Jesus Himself now serves as our high priest. There is no longer a need for a Jewish high priest to stand before the Lord and make atonement for our sins. Jesus has provided for our atonement through His death on the cross.
In addition, the tearing of the veil also helped to mark the beginning of a new covenant. Hebrews 8:13 states, “In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.”
A powerful application of this change is described in Hebrews 4:14-16: “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Instead of coming to a priest, we can directly and boldly come before God through Jesus Christ to receive mercy and grace. Jesus meets our needs and even identifies with our weaknesses. The tearing of the veil is profoundly significant and provides a pictorial foundation for how we can approach God today. God has torn down the barrier between Himself and us through the work of Jesus.
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