And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom;… (Mat 27:51)
The next great wonder mentioned at Calvary was the dividing of the veil into two pieces, from top to bottom. For many years, I assumed that the earthquake was the instrument that divided the veil. The room was thirty feet wide and the veil was approximately sixty feet high. Why would such a great earthquake not have ripped the veil in half? It is important to realize that the veil was hanging loosely and not fastened to the wall under stress.
If the earthquake had ripped the veil, the force for ripping the veil would have been transmitted through the walls of the building into the veil. But, the earthquake did not affect the sturdy stone building and therefore did not cause the ripping of the veil.
If our Bible text gives a cause for the ripping of the veil, it is obviously the result of Jesus’ cry. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; (Mat 27:50-51)
“According to the order given here, the rending of the veil was independent of the quaking of the earth. Indeed, whatever there is of cause and effect would lead us to think that the rending of the veil was the result of the second of the two cries from Calvary, that is, the last, loud, expiring cry of the Crucified. The same cry then would be the cause of the earthquake” (Nicholson)
The rending of the veil and the simultaneous earthquake were twin actions following the cry of the crucified. “It was, as we may say, the loud voice of the expiring Savior which split in two the veil of the Temple, and shook the earth, and broke the rocks.” (Nicholson)
The Roman centurion (army commander in charge of one hundred men) who witnessed the crucifixion, indicates that he was affected partly by seeing the earthquake.
Mark’s account mentions nothing of the earthquake but says that the centurion was affected by his seeing that Jesus cried out in such a powerful way at the instant of his last breath. Men did not always have that much power in their last utterance from the cross. Jesus’ last utterance from the cross must have pierced the soul of the centurion and struck him as being extra ordinary for a man’s last breath.
“From this comparison of the two evangelists it is suggested that the force of the cry is to be measured by the quaking of the earth; and by that, then also by the rending of the veil.” (Nicholson)
The stone Temple took the place of the Tabernacle which was made of animal skins and boards held together with metal fasteners and hooks. However, the veil was a continuation of the veil design used in the Tabernacle. In purpose, the veil of the Temple was the same as the veil of the Tabernacle. Its purpose was to conceal from human view what lay beyond it.
The Tabernacle began with the courtyard where people could assemble. A veil prevented the common people from seeing into the first room of the Tabernacle, the Holy Place. The priests could enter that room, the Holy Place, and perform certain tasks on a daily basis. Beyond the Holy Place was another veil and beyond it was the Holy of Holies.
Priests could not enter the Holy of Holies. Only the High Priest could enter this room once a year to bring blood to anoint the Ark of the Covenant and to present the incense. The veil which concealed the Holy of Holies (or, Most Holy Place) was torn in two pieces when Jesus cried with a loud voice: “It is finished” and gave up the ghost.
The writer of Hebrews in the New Testament refers to the ripping of the veil: 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; And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. (Heb 10:19-22)
Jesus was that veil and through the rending of his body on the cross, He opened the way for sinners to approach God directly. He offered His own blood as the great High Priest of Heaven, just one time. The ordinary High Priests had to offer blood every year.
The veil was torn in two at the exact moment of the Evening Sacrifice, at 3:00 p.m. Several priests were on duty in the Holy Place, preparing for the Evening Sacrifice. But on this special day, there would be no Evening Sacrifice by their hands. Jesus, Himself would be that Evening Sacrifice and would offer His own blood. It is important to note that the earthly Tabernacle and then the earthly Temple were made after the pattern of a Tabernacle in the heavens.
The earthly tabernacle received earthly sacrifices. But the Heavenly Tabernacle would receive a better blood sacrifice than the earthly Tabernacle: It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. (Heb 9:23) Jesus offered His blood in the Heavenly Tabernacle.When He died, the veil of the earthly Tabernacle was rent so that all could see it.
And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith. (Act 6:7)
The reason a great company of the priests in Jerusalem were obedient to the Christian faith is through the testimony of the priests who were on duty in the Temple. They knew what they had seen and they knew what it had meant. None of them could have ripped the 60’ veil from the top down and they all knew it. They had seen a miracle…the miracle of the rent veil. They would become Christians in a few days. They would tell the other priests what they had seen and many other priests would become Christians because of the renting of the veil. Ω
Read Through the Bible in a Year
APRIL 14, 2017 – FRIDAY
A.M. 1Sam 15-16 P.M. Luke: 14:25-35
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Memory Verse This Month:
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Act 2:36)
Song for Today:
Rock of Ages (3:24) – (Gaither Group) (Vestal Goodman)
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