By Hollie Ogden
With Easter coming up, I wanted to focus this article on something related to the holiday. There is an obscure verse in Matthew and it seems a little out of place in the Easter storyline. After Jesus makes His last cry and dies, this is inserted,
“And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom;” (Matthew 27:31)
This verse could easily be passed over but it actually teaches a very important doctrinal principle. The tearing of the veil is symbolic of the old law being done away and the literal tearing of Christ’s physical body.
The Old & New Law
In ancient temples, there were three rooms or levels and different people were allowed in different rooms. There was the outer court, the holy place, and the holy of holies. We sometimes liken these three rooms to the idea of the celestial, terrestrial, and telestial rooms or degrees in our modern temples. However, there is an important difference between then and now.
Only the high priest was allowed to go into the holy of holies on one day each year, Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement. No other person was allowed and it was believed that if anyone else on any other day entered this small room (which to them was the presence of God) that they would be struck and killed.
The veil between the holy place and the most holy place in the temple at the time of Jesus, the temple of Herod, was a 5-inch thick ornate piece of fabric that separated the two rooms. This is not something that any person, any mortal could easily rip in half. On top of this, it was 30 feet tall and ripped “from the top to the bottom.” Only God is strong enough to rip fabric of that magnitude from the top, leaving no room for this to be the doing of any man.
The ripping of the veil represents the old law being done away with. Now in our modern temples, all worthy individuals who enter into covenants are allowed to enter through the veil into the symbolic presence of God, the Mosaic holy of holies.
The Body of Christ
There is also a scripture in Hebrews that offers an important detail that brings the symbolic nature of the veil to life. It says,
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;” (Hebrews 10:20).
Did you catch that?
This verse means that the veil of the temple represents the physical body of Jesus Christ. He was crucified and physically torn for our sake. It is only fitting that God the Father would have the symbolic body, the veil of the temple, be rent in twain after the literal body of Christ was crucified.
All things in the temple point to Jesus but the veil is one of the most literal symbols of him. As we approach Him, let us thrust our hands into His side and feel the prints of the nails in His hands.
How grateful I am for an Easter, for a time to remember there was one who sacrificed his body and his blood so that I might be able to enter the presence of God. Even the high priests in the days of Moses were not able to enter the holy of holies without the shedding of blood. But no more is it the blood of a lamb, but of the Son of God, the eternal sacrifice.