Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Veil Was Torn

As I was growing up, when it came to God and religion, the word that most came to mind was FEAR.  I wanted to know Him, I wanted to understand Him, I wanted to follow Him - but everything I read scared me, so it became easier to do the bare minimum to get by without diving so deep that I'd recognize all the ways I was failing.

In high school, my sister and I made a more concerted effort to "earn favor with God" - and began attending a church that a friend went to.  While we felt it gave us "check marks" in God's attendance chart, it did little else to help us understand Him more.  And so it went as we attended church with one religion/denomination, participated in activities and camps with another religion/denomination, and watched with interest friends participating in so many others as well.  We saw some rules being faithfully followed - and among those following, some with hearts full of joy and love - and others with emptiness.  We saw kids who participated in church-like organizations (i.e. "Young Life") who proclaimed how "cool it was", but later got kicked off their sports team for doing activities way off base (and inconsistent with what was supposedly taught at those Monday night meetings). 

Despite so many observations, camp "mountain top" experiences, sermons from those I didn't respect and some I whole-heartedly respected, at-home Bible readings, songs by Christian artists, friendship conversations, and "Grandma lectures" - I DID NOT GET IT.  It was as if a shroud concealed me from grasping the truth of the Gospel despite all of MY efforts to get to it.

It wasn't until the beginning of my sophomore year of college that through GOD'S divine intervention (quite the set of random circumstances got me there) - I attended a Campus Crusade for Christ retreat.  I think I've made references to this before, but it was there that everything lined up.  All along I'd been trying to figure out which ONE particular denomination/religion was going to be the key to getting to Heaven - with each of them, thus far, having let me down in one way or another.  It was at this retreat that the shroud was lifted...the veil was torn.  I wasn't finding truth because I was looking for all the wrong things - I was looking for a church, or a group, or a set of followers with rules....instead of looking for the person of Jesus Christ - the answer to it all.

In following the remarkable pattern of twin ship that Michele and I shared, we both came to this radical grasp of God's love on the same day - finally "getting it" on the Sunday of the retreat.  And, in a special gift also bestowed from God, he ignited in both of us a recognition of what love could feel like for a future husband on that day too.  Essentially, we both fell in love in two ways that day - finding ourselves finally able to see God as loving and the extent of His love for us through Jesus - and secondly, meeting men that embodied the qualities we'd always longed for, but never thought we'd find or be worthy to receive.  Michele ended up marrying that man she fell for that for me, he was the first of four men I gave a part of my heart to - a man I believed I could have married, but thankfully was not the ultimate one God chose for me to walk down the aisle to commit my life to.  Clearly, God knew that both of us needed to understand the depth of His love before we could ever recognize and accept the love of a mere man who would make as many mistakes as we would on the journey.


As I thought about what I'd like to write about this Easter, God impressed upon me, through a Christian song I was listening to, how important the "veil being torn" following Jesus' death on the cross is.  Of course, at Easter, there is so much of significance to focus upon, and I don't want to take away from everything that happened for you and for me on the cross - the very act that made access to God, to Heaven, available for the asking.

But, for me this "veil" is extra personal.  It's God saying, "no more rules, no more 'high priest', no more special-access-only, no more animal sacrifices... I've destroyed that way of living, that way of thinking and have made it so that Jesus is the only way and path you'll ever need to come to Me".

I can write from heart until my fingers go numb, but am quick to admit that my explanation of theology is not something I'd want to be "quoted on" - so I'm adding an excerpt found very simply through Google....but in its simplicity I feel like it's exactly what I'd want to be able to say and reference if I could.  So, I will "cut and paste" so it's also available to you....

Found at

Question: "What was the significance of the temple veil being torn in two when Jesus died?"

During the lifetime of Jesus, the holy temple in Jerusalem was the center of Jewish religious life. The temple was the place where animal sacrifices were carried out and worship according to the Law of Moses was followed faithfully. Hebrews 9:1-9 tells us that in the temple a veil separated the Holy of Holies—the earthly dwelling place of God’s presence—from the rest of the temple where men dwelt. This signified that man was separated from God by sin (Isaiah 59:1-2). Only the high priest was permitted to pass beyond this veil once each year (Exodus 30:10; Hebrews 9:7) to enter into God's presence for all of Israel and make atonement for their sins (Leviticus 16).

Solomon's temple was 30 cubits high (1 Kings 6:2), but Herod had increased the height to 40 cubits, according to the writings of Josephus, a first century Jewish historian. There is uncertainty as to the exact measurement of a cubit, but it is safe to assume that this veil was somewhere near 60 feet high. Josephus also tells us that the veil was four inches thick and that horses tied to each side could not pull the veil apart. The book of Exodus teaches that this thick veil was fashioned from blue, purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen.

The size and thickness of the veil makes the events occurring at the moment of Jesus’ death on the cross so much more momentous. “And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matthew 27:50-51a).

So, what do we make of this? What significance does this torn veil have for us today? Above all, the tearing of the veil at the moment of Jesus' death dramatically symbolized that His sacrifice, the shedding of His own blood, was a sufficient atonement for sins. It signified that now the way into the Holy of Holies was open for all people, for all time, both Jew and Gentile.

When Jesus died, the veil was torn, and God moved out of that place never again to dwell in a temple made with hands (Acts 17:24). God was through with that temple and its religious system, and the temple and Jerusalem were left “desolate” (destroyed by the Romans) in A.D. 70, just as Jesus prophesied in Luke 13:35. As long as the temple stood, it signified the continuation of the Old Covenant. Hebrews 9:8-9 refers to the age that was passing away as the new covenant was being established (Hebrews 8:13).

In a sense, the veil was symbolic of Christ Himself as the only way to the Father (John 14:6). This is indicated by the fact that the high priest had to enter the Holy of Holies through the veil. Now Christ is our superior High Priest, and as believers in His finished work, we partake of His better priesthood. We can now enter the Holy of Holies through Him. Hebrews 10:19-20 says that the faithful enter into the sanctuary by the “blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us through the veil, that is, through his flesh.” Here we see the image of Jesus’ flesh being torn for us just as He was tearing the veil for us.

The veil being torn from top to bottom is a fact of history. The profound significance of this event is explained in glorious detail in Hebrews. The things of the temple were shadows of things to come, and they all ultimately point us to Jesus Christ. He was the veil to the Holy of Holies, and through His death the faithful now have free access to God.

The veil in the temple was a constant reminder that sin renders humanity unfit for the presence of God. The fact that the sin offering was offered annually and countless other sacrifices repeated daily showed graphically that sin could not truly be atoned for or erased by mere animal sacrifices. Jesus Christ, through His death, has removed the barriers between God and man, and now we may approach Him with confidence and boldness (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Have a BLESSED EASTER everyone...and it is my prayer that the significance of the veil being lifted will be a very real experience in your own heart.


sara said...

I am so very grateful that I can come before God any time, any where, exactly as I am!

StephieAnne said...

Amen Sara!