Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Veil Was Rent in Twain

Maybe I'm just slow to catch on to symbolism, but as I was reading about Jesus' death and the veil of the temple being rent in twain from top to bottom (Mark 15:37-38) it occurred to me that Jesus and the temple veil are one and the same.

During Old Testament times the temple was divided by a veil. It separated the "Holy Place" from the "Holy of Holies." Sacrifices were performed in the outer courtyard of the temple. No blood was shed inside the temple, and only the priests could enter the temple. Inside the Holy Place the priests burned incense, kept the lamps lit, and sprinkled blood on the horns of the altar of incense once a year. Even they were not allowed to enter the Holy of Holies.

The Holy of Holies was entered just once a year, and only by the high priest. The only piece of furniture in the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Testimony. On the ark, and forming the lid, was the mercy seat. It served as the altar for the highest atonement known to Jewish law. It was also known as God's throne in Israel. This means that only the high priest was given the privilege of approaching God's throne and mercy seat, and he was doing it in behalf of all of Israel. Even for the high priest this was not an individual, personal contact.

Here's the connection I found: Jesus is our high priest, the highest and holiest of all. But He was also much more. When He died, the veil was literally rent. No longer was the Holy of Holies restricted to only the highest priesthood authority.

By being the ultimate atonement for us, Jesus made it possible for each of us to figuratively enter the Holy of Holies, to approach the throne of God personally and sit on the mercy seat. Israel no longer had need of a high priest to go into the presence of God and atone for their sins, because Jesus, as their high priest, made an eternal sacrifice and made it possible for every individual to approach God in confidence. No longer were men separated from God's throne and His mercy seat. Just as Jesus' body was torn on the cross by His crucifixion, the temple veil was torn and sin's power to eternally separate us from God was done away with.

Jesus Christ redeemed us and paid the price. And now we're blessed to be offered full forgiveness every day, not just once a year. His gift has given us the freedom and privilege to enter the Holy of Holies and personally worship at the altar of our God.

What an amazing blesssing.


Mama D said...

I'm so glad you shared your insight on this symbolism. I hadn't quite seen it this way before, either. Christ's sacrifice for us is indeed an amazing blessing... and this connection between our Savior and the temple veil is food for thought. Thanks.

Jennifer Andersen said...

I see seminary teacher in your future....