The Veil


Of all the things we observe and remember during Holy Week, for some reason the veil of the temple being torn in two is calling out to me this year.


Don’t get me wrong here –the cross and the empty tomb are the main point of Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.


But that veil…


The veil of the temple was what separated the main temple from the Holy of Holies. Inside the Holy of Holies was God’s territory. Only one human being was allowed back in there and only once a year to make sacrifice for the sins of the people. The only individual allowed into the very presence of God was the High Priest and he had to be an actual descendant of Aaron. He had to have purified himself thoroughly through a long list of requirements and regulations or he would die in the presence of God. They put bells on his clothing and tied a rope around his ankle so that if God did strike him dead for being unclean, others would know because his bells had stopped jingling and they could pull him out by the rope tied to his ankle. 


To say this was serious is an understatement of Biblical proportions.


The veil that separated the main temple from the Holy of Holies was made according to very specific requirements given in the book of Exodus. The veil in the temple in Jerusalem was 60 feet high and 30 feet wide –meaning its square footage was greater than the footprint of the average American home. It was woven of 72 cords, each composed of 24 threads of fine twisted linen in blue and purple and scarlet. It took 12,000 snails of a very certain species to make a single thimble-full of the dye required to produce those colors in the threads of the veil. It had beautiful scenes of cherubim and other heavenly themes woven into it. Production of a single veil for the temple required the work 82 young ladies specially trained for the purpose working for six months. When finished, the veil was four inches thick and required 300 priests to move it around. It hung from a solid stone lintel (in essence the biggest curtain rod anyone had ever heard of) weighing 60,000 pounds. 


And God tore it in two.


At the very moment that Jesus died, immediately after He proclaimed “It is finished!” (John 19:30), in the instant in time when He gave up his spirit:


At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart,  and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. Matthew 27:51 & 52 (NLT)


And everything changed.


In that moment, all who would believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior were granted direct access to God. All the sacrifices all the priests had made for all the years prior to that were done –over because the perfect sacrifice had been made for us. No longer would a High Priest with bells on his robe and a rope around his ankle be the only person who could come before God the Father. No longer would the veil be necessary because our relationship with God had been forever healed and made whole and holy. 


The High Priest who made that sacrifice for us had not entered a replica of heaven or the place where God dwelt once a year, He was and is the King who is a resident and rightful heir to the very Throne Room of God.


And through His sacrifice, through His death on that cross, we are granted the right to not only come before that throne, but to come before it boldly.


So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:14-16 (NLT)




The Greek word used is παρρησίας (parrēsias) and it means all out-spokenness, i.e. frankness, bluntness, publicity; by implication, assurance.


That is just astounding. 


After all humanity had done, has done, and will do, that God would not only allow us to come before Him like that but allow His Son to endure all of the very worst attributes of humanity in order not just to make it possible for us but to orchestrate all of it for our benefit defies anyone’s ability to come up with words adequate to describe it.


It’s beyond amazing grace. 


The only response I can think of to being granted that kind of access to God is to come before that throne with bold and raucous praise, thanking and glorifying Him that He made a way for me to be who I could never be on my own. 


Today’s Praise

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)


Photo: Above-ground graves cover the Mount of Olives facing the city of Jerusalem. Image by Teun de Jager from Pixabay

1 reply
  1. Reve’ Krengel
    Reve’ Krengel says:

    Thank you, Dan, for a closer look at the ‘veil’, not quite like a bridal veil of today that we think of when we hear that word. I’ll have to read it again to soak it in better. Blessed Easter to you & yours!


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