This week we are passing through the inner veil and into the Most Holy Place. The veil was the object that gave a physical separation between sinful man and a holy God in the Tabernacle and then later in the Temple. It was woven from blue, purple, and scarlet yarn with cherubim embroidered into it and it was hung from clasps between four golden posts (also made of acacia wood and covered in gold – does that surprise you?!)
The first instance we see of cherubim in the bible is in Genesis 3:24: “After he drove the man out (of the garden), he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.” Over and over again we see cherubim acting as guards for God. In the Tabernacle and also the Temple, we find cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant, as “decorations” in the fabric and carved into the structure of the Temple itself. In Ezekiel, cherubim play a huge role as they accompany God’s glory as He departs the Temple.
Digging Deeper: Read through 1 Kings 6:23-37; Ezekiel 10-11. What more can you learn about these guardian creatures?
The Most Holy Place or Holy of Holies, bears a name that essentially means that it is the most holy or sacred place of all things that are holy or sacred. This space was set aside to house the Ark of the Covenant and was where God’s manifest presence was made known. The room itself stood 15ft x 15 ft x 15ft (4.5m x 4.5m x 4.5m). Notice that this space was a perfect cube.
It is interesting that the New Jerusalem of Revelation is described the same way! Rev 21:15-16 says, “The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long.” It was 1,400 cubed miles! Just as we see symbolism from the garden to the Tabernacle, we also see symbolism between the New Jerusalem and the Tabernacle. The Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle was where God’s manifest presence was and in Revelation it is no accident that the New Jerusalem is described in the same manner – as the dwelling place of God Himself. In this one space, the Most Holy Place, we see how God has traced patterns or similarities from Genesis to Revelation!
The significance of Christ and the veil is perhaps the one we most identify with. The most common story of the veil (or curtain) of the temple was when it was torn from top to bottom at the moment of Christ’s death (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45). I have often reflected on the significance of this event and its symbolism – that Christ is the veil that was torn at the moment of death opening the way for all mankind to the Most Holy Place. The veil was the separation between sinful man and a holy God. With the death of Christ, the sin of man was atoned for and there is no separation between man and God anymore!
While the above may be familiar to you, have you ever wondered what happened in the temple that day? God’s manifest presence was found in the person of Jesus Christ and even if God’s manifest presence had been found in the Most Holy Place in the temple up until the birth of Christ (which is unlikely), how is it that the high priests could continue to perform all their duties and see (at least once each year) that God’s presence was no longer in the Most Holy Place once Christ was born?
On that day of Christ’s death, I would imagine the priests were probably
tending to their daily duties in the temple when out of the blue, this massive curtain is split from the top down. The curtain in the temple was 30 feet tall – as tall as a three story building – torn not from the bottom up by man, but from the top down by God. Now picture the horror of these Jewish priests seeing this happen and having the Most Holy Place laid open to all. Remember that only the high priest had the privilege to see inside this sacred space and only once each year – and here it was for all the priests to see!
The Bible does not record what happened after this, but the temple remained standing and functioning from Christ’s death (between AD30 and AD33) until AD70 when it was destroyed. I would imagine that curtain was either stitched back together or more likely a new curtain was made and hung in its place. Think of the symbolic significance of that…
And yet are we any different? There are times in my life where I have tried to put that separation back between me and God. My husband and I suffered greatly from infertility and miscarriages and I was downright angry with God. That was definitely a season of my life where I kept God at arms length. I did not completely walk away from my faith, but I was quite content to have a veil/curtain in place. When we turn away from God and try to “do” life on our own, it’s as if we stitch that veil back together and hang it right back up. What areas of your life are you trying to handle on your own? What areas of your life are you trying to fix on your own? In what areas of life have you tried to stitch that veil back up? Remember, beloved, that your God tore that veil down! You can live in freedom and not in confinement. We have the amazing privilege to live as part of God’s royal priesthood and can be bold before the throne of God no matter our circumstances! (Hebrews 10:19)
Digging Deeper: Other scriptures to consider: Lev 16:2; Matt 27:50-51; 2 Cor 3:18
God’s grace and peace to you until next time!
By: Chris Tomlin
Welcomed in to the courts of the King
I’ve been ushered into your presence
Lord I stand on your merciful ground
Yet with every step tread with reverence
And I’ll fall facedown
As your glory shines around
Yes I’ll fall facedown
As your glory shines around
[ Lyrics from:
Who is there in the heavens like you
And upon the earth who’s your equal
You are far above you’re the highest of heights
We are bowing down to exalt you
So let your glory shine around!
Let your glory shine around!
King of glory here be found!
King of glory!
He became sin; who knew no sin
That we might become His righteousness
He humbled Himself and carried the cross
Love so amazing; Love so amazing
Jesus Messiah, name above all names
Blessed Redeemer, Emmanuel
The rescue for sinners; the ransom from Heaven
Jesus Messiah, Lord of all
His body, the bread; His blood, the wine
Broken and poured out all for love
The whole earth tremble and the veil was torn
Love so amazing; Love so amazing, yeah
All our hope is in You; All our hope is in You
All the glory to You, God; the light of the world
Jesus Messiah, Lord of all
The Lord of all; the Lord of all