This past Wednesday our Jewish friends celebrated their most sacred holiday of Yom Kippur. We were discussing last week the importance of the application of the blood of Christ to our lives. In the Old Testament the application of the sacrificial animals acted as a covering for the peoples sin. But what are some of the proofs that God was satisfied with the sacrifice of His Son? Well obviously we can point to the resurrection as the greatest proof that God accepted the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. There’s also a very interesting passage in both the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke that gives another interesting twist to God’s acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We read in Matthew’s Gospel-“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split,” (Matt. 27:50,51 NIV). Jesus’s last words may either have been, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”, or” It is finished”. If it is the second of these statements, “It is finished” He was surely speaking of the completion of the redemption plan. The Day of Atonement for the believer was completed when Jesus Christ died on the cross. But another indication is found in the significance of the veil being torn in the Temple. This is truly a magnificent illustration of our atonement. You see the veil was a heavy curtain that separated the holy of holies from inner sanctuary of the temple area. The high priest alone was allowed to go into that holy of holies only once a year on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. But the tearing of the veil really is a significant key in helping us understand the mystery of Christ death. Why did Jesus die? Why did this sinless man suffer such an excruciating, painful, ugly death? It was so that He might bring us into the presence of His Father. Jesus has opened for us a new and living way into the divine presence of our Heavenly Father.
The tearing of the veil from top to bottom must have pricked the heart of any intelligent Jew. The way that had separated God from the people has now been torn and is now open to all. The conscience of Caiaphas the high priest and the hearts of those who ordered Jesus’s execution must have indeed been hard to miss the significance of the veil being torn from top to bottom. No one could have torn the veil from top to bottom but God Himself. Jesus died so that we might be justified by faith and have peace with our Heavenly Father and rejoice in the hope of His eternal glory. The tearing of the veil proclaimed the termination and the passing away of the ceremonial and civil laws in the Old Testament on which the Pharisees and Sadducees so heavily depended. We are not under the Levitical rituals and sacrifices that are prescribed in the Old Testament. When I read through the Bible each year, as I have for over the last 35 years, I always correspond my reading of Leviticus with Hebrews, two chapters of Leviticus and one chapter of Hebrews. Leviticus tells us the old way but Hebrews demonstrates for us a much better way that is found through the Lord Jesus Christ. The moment of Jesus’s death terminated the need for an earthly high priest or the mercy seat or the sprinkling of blood. All of the pictures and types of the Old Testament have been fulfilled in the sacrifice of the Passover lamb. No longer would God dwell in thick darkness. The true Lamb of God has been slain to set a side the sacrificial system that was pointing to His eternal sacrifice. To put people under the ceremonial law and to establish priesthood in this dispensation is like lighting a candle in the brightest sunlight at noontime. The darkness and the mystery of the Old Testament are fulfilled in what God has done. And God spoke clearly by grabbing the top of the veil and tearing it from top to bottom indicating that there is now in new way. All are invited to draw near into God’s presence with boldness and to approach Him with confidence because of the faith that we have in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. What an awesome God we have who has made a way so clearly for us to know Him and to enter into a personal relationship with Him through calling on His Son, Jesus Christ.
One last thought I’d like to leave with you regarding the tearing of the veil. For Judaism to continue in its existing form someone had to climb up on a ladder to sew that torn veil. Or perhaps they took the whole thing down and covered it with a temporary veil while a group of men worked quickly to repair God’s tear. These men who worked to sew the torn veil symbolized those who are trying to have a relationship with God by the works of their own hands. Man has a way that seems right to him and even when God has offered the free gift of salvation through His Son people prefer their own way. The Jewish leadership that crucified Christ and then sewed the torn veil probably realized that Jesus was their true Messiah. But at this point they could hardly go back and tell the people of the nation of Israel, “We just crucified our Messiah”! They had to come up with a lie in their own minds in order to justify their deeds. When we reject the offer of salvation through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ we are relying on the works of our own hands and just like those Pharisees and Sadducees sewing that torn veil we will reap the works of our own hands. Please consider your need to enter in to a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. He paid it all so that we who become His children through faith in Jesus Christ can have it all.
Pastor Rich Sivo