The rent veil
by susan dayley in

In the temple that King Solomon built there were two rooms, the Holy Chamber where the shew bread tables, the golden candlestick, and the altar of incense were, and the room known as the Holy of Holies, which was the home of the Ark of the Covenant; the place where the Lord was. The Holy of Holies was separated from the first chamber by two large olive wood doors that were intricately carved and plated in gold. Beyond the doors was the veil of the temple, and beyond that the cubical room encased in gold with two massive cherubim standing watch over the Ark of the Covenant. Only the finest materials and craftsmanship went into the building of that room. After the dedication, only one person was allowed into the most sacred chamber: the high priest of the temple. He entered once each year on the Day of Atonement. On that day the high priest wore simple linen robes and carried blood that was offered for his and the people’s sins committed in ignorance. He would sprinkle the blood on and before the mercy seat. He also carried burning incense that created a cloud of smoke so that his eyes would be shielded from the glory of the Lord.

After preparing himself with washing and changing his robes, he passed through the doors and then through the veil. The veil consisted of several layers that the high priest worked his way through. Some scholars believe the veil was up to three feet thick of the finely embroidered linen layers that he walked through like a maze. Josephus wrote that the veil was four inches thick and that horses tied to each side could not pull the veil apart. It was also very tall, between fifty and sixty feet high (30 cubits) in the temple built by Herod. Alfred Edersheim wrote that the curtain before the Holy of Holies was “40 cubits (60 feet) long, and 20 (30 feet) wide, of the thickness of the palm of the hand, and wrought in 72 squares, which were joined together; and these Veils were so heavy, that, in the exaggerated language of the time, it needed 300 priests to manipulate each.” (Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah.)

Many years after the destruction of the first temple, but during the time of the temple built by Herod, Jesus, the son of God, walked among men, and then when the hour was come, fulfilled the purpose he spoke of when he said, "To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world" (John18:37). The gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke record that at the very moment when our Savior, upon the cross, at the close of his sacrifice for us, cried out, that in that moment the veil of the temple was rent from top to bottom (Matt. 27:51; Mark 27:51; Luke 23:45). The atonement of our Savior for all of mankind was completed and the veil of the temple was rent. The barrier that kept men from God was removed. Through our Savior, the final and ultimate sacrifice, mankind was able to return to God. The veil was parted and the way is prepared.

“We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 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; ” (Heb. 10:10,19-20; see all of Hebrews, chapters 9 & 10).


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