10 Comments

The Holy of Holies and the Rent Veil


The Holy of Holies, a small room 10 cubits x 10 cubits (15′ x 15′) separated from the Holy Place by the veil. It housed one piece of redemptive furniture, the ark of the Covenant, with its mercy seat. There was no created light like the sun and no artificial light but Gods own “Shekinah” glory that lit up the Holiest Place.

There was no seat for man but here Jehovah sat alone on the throne of glory and righteousness. As the high priest entered once a year, he entered with bowed head, unsandalled feet, and bells. No human voice was heard, only the voice of God.

The Veil

Exod 26:31-34 “You shall make a veil woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen. It shall be woven with an artistic design of cherubim.”

- The veil could never be touched except by the high priest, and then only once a year to sprinkle blood on the mercy seat on the day of atonement:

Lev 16:2 and the LORD said to Moses: “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat.”

What Was the Significance of the Temple Veil being Torn in Two when Jesus Died?

During the lifetime time of Jesus, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was the center of Jewish religious life. Here was the place that animal sacrifices were carried out, and worship according to the Law of Moses was commanded, and followed faithfully.

Hebrews 9:1-9 tells us that in the Temple a veil separated the Holy of Holies where God dwelt from the rest of the Temple where men dwelt. This signified that man was separated from God by sin (Isaiah 59:1-2). Only the High Priest was permitted to pass beyond this veil once each year (Exodus 30:10; Hebrews 9:7), enter into God’s presence for all of Israel, and make atonement for their sins (Leviticus 16).

Solomon’s Temple was 30 cubits high (1 Kings 6:2) but Herod had increased the height to 40 cubits according to the writings of Josephus, a first century Jewish historian. There is uncertainty as to exactly what a cubit equaled in our feet and inches but it is safe to assume that this veil was somewhere near 60 feet high. Josephus also tells us that the veil was four inches thick, and that horses tied to each side could not pull the veil apart. And the account in the Book of Exodus teaches that this thick veil was fashioned from blue, purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen.

The size and thickness of the veil makes so much more momentous the events described as occurring at the exact moment of Jesus’ death upon a cross nearly 2000 years ago. “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom…” (Matthew 27:50-51a)

So what do we make of this? What significance does this rent-torn veil have for us today? Above all, the tearing of the veil at the moment of Jesus’ death dramatically symbolized that His sacrifice, the shedding of His own blood, was a sufficient atonement for sins forever. It now signified that the way into the Holy of Holies was open for all people, for all time, both Jew and gentile.

When Jesus died, the veil was torn, and God moved out of that place never again to dwell in a Temple made with hands (Acts 17:24). God was through with that Temple and its religious system and worship forever, and the Temple and Jerusalem was left “desolate” (destroyed by the Romans) in 70 A.D. just as Jesus prophesied it would in Luke 13:35. As long as the Temple stood, it signified the continuation of the Old Covenant. Hebrews 9:8-9 indicates that the way to the sanctuary was not yet open “as long as the outer tent” still stood, being symbolic of “the present age.” The “present age” refers to the age that was passing away even as the New Covenant was being established (Hebrews 8:13).

In a sense, the veil was symbolic of Christ, Himself. Christ is the only way to the Father. (John 14:6) This is symbolized in the fact that the High Priest had to enter the Holy of Holies through the veil. Now Christ is our more superior High Priest, and as believers in the finished work of Jesus we partake of His better priesthood. We can now enter the Holy of Holies by Him. Hebrews 10:19-20 says that the faithful enter into the sanctuary by the “blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us through the veil, that is, through his flesh.”

The veil being rent from top to bottom is a fact of history. The profound significance of this event is explained in glorious detail in the Letter to the Hebrews. These things were shadows of things to come, and they all ultimately point us to Jesus Christ. He was the veil to the Holy of Holies, and through His death, the faithful now have free access to God.

The veil in the Temple was a constant reminder that sin renders humanity unfit for the presence of God. The fact that the sin offering was offered annually and countless other sacrifices repeated daily was meant to show graphically that sin could not truly and permanently be atoned for or erased by mere animal sacrifices. Jesus Christ, through His death, has removed the barriers between God and man, and now we may approach Him with confidence and boldness (Hebrews 4:14-16).

About these ads

10 comments on “The Holy of Holies and the Rent Veil

  1. Josephus also tells us that the veil was four inches thick, and that horses tied to each side could not pull the veil apart.

    I find this an amazing fact. Only God could have rent that veil from top to bottom.

    When Jesus died, the veil was torn, and God moved out of that place never again to dwell in a Temple made with hands (Acts 17:24). God was through with that Temple and its religious system and worship forever, and the Temple and Jerusalem was left “desolate” (destroyed by the Romans) in 70 A.D. just as Jesus prophesied it would in Luke 13:35. As long as the Temple stood, it signified the continuation of the Old Covenant.

    Hebrews 9:8-9 indicates that the way to the sanctuary was not yet open “as long as the outer tent” still stood, being symbolic of “the present age.” The “present age” refers to the age that was passing away even as the New Covenant was being established (Hebrews 8:13).

    Beautifully put…amen

    *I had this small teaching on the rent veil in a file, but don’t know who sent it to me or wrote it. Whoever wrote this did a wonderful job of explaining the significance.

  2. Hello,

    I am doing some research and am trying to find out if the Jewish priests and people continued to worship in the temple after the veil was rent, until the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. If so, how did they deal with the veil being torn and the Holy of Holies exposed…..

    • Is this Cheryl Horton from Christian High School SD? This is Vicki Stuard.

      I wanted to share with you something I have never seen in the scriptures before. I love finding things that are hidden for me to see ;”)

      I was reading in Luke yesterday morning and especially noticed the last verse which says: “…they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.” Luke 24:52. I looked back to see if Luke had recorded the verse about the curtain being rent. There it was, 23:45 says that the curtain in the temple was torn in two. We know that the curtain in the temple divided the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place (where the Ark of the Covenant was, where God met with the priests only once a year). I am sure none of the religious Jews would have gone into the temple because that was assured death if they were not ceremonially clean, holy, worthy (right credentials of a priest, etc.) to meet with God. (I would love to know the Jewish history of that.) But, the two from the Road to Emmaus, the Eleven and others with them worshipped there in the temple with great joy praising God. Yes Lord!!! Can you imagine that scene? This confirmation of the power of Christ’s death and resurrection produced great joy, holy boldness, thankful hearts, and permanent life change where they could never be the same. I like the term Ruined for the Ordinary. Thank you Jesus for your provision! We may now enter your throne of grace boldly because of your finished work on the cross!

      The followers of Jesus had freedom to enter the Temple with the veil rent. FYI–The veil was rent from top (heaven) to bottom (earth). Matt 27:51 “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split.” That must have been a scary day for those who opposed Jesus. Yet He arose from the dead with forgiveness and healing in His wings (Mal 4:2).

  3. Cheryl,

    We know the temple was still being used up until its destruction, the book of Josephus gives some details, and would be a good historical source for you to dig into…

    http://www.ccel.org/j/josephus/works/JOSEPHUS.HTM

    We also know from the book of Acts that at least some of the disciples are recorded as going up to the temple. One such instance:

    Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. acts 3

    If so, how did they deal with the veil being torn and the Holy of Holies exposed…

    That i can’t say for sure. My guess was the thick veil was replaced as soon as possible…

  4. Hi pjmiller

    I am doing a Bible study on the temple veil and have come across many references in articles which refer to Josephus saying the temple veil was 4 inches thick, but no one seems to reference the original source.

    Can you help? Where is the original source? Did Josephus even say or write this?

    Thanks

    Vic Gill

  5. Where do you get “mercy seat?” It is not in the Hebrew at all. The Leviticus verse you cite says (translating the Hebrew)”Tell your brother Aaron that he is not to come at any time into the shrine (literally Holy) behind the curtain in front of the cover that is upon the ark, lest he die, for I appear in the cloud over (literally on) the cover.

  6. (Young’s Literal Translation)

    2yea, Jehovah saith unto Moses, `Speak unto Aaron thy brother, and he cometh not in at all times unto the sanctuary within the vail, unto the front of the mercy-seat, which [is] upon the ark, and he dieth not, for in a cloud I am seen upon the mercy-seat.

  7. As an apologetic, it would be nice to have an extrabiblical source vfor the veil having been torn before stating it is “a fact of history.”

    • Believe the numerous links within the comments might give you more info.

      But why would we need extrabiblical sources in order to believe something is fact rockie? God’s word is true.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Possessing the Treasure

Κατέχοντας ο Θησαυρός

paul the slave

2 Corinthians 1:6-9

Gralefrit Theology

Trying to explicate the inexplicable

Pursuing Truth

Eschatology studies, discussion forum, and more

For the Love of His Truth

A Christian Blog about Fundamental Biblical Facts

SettledInHeaven.org Blog

A text & video blog striving to honor Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through Bible lessons, devotionals, Sunday School studies and small group studies.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 439 other followers

%d bloggers like this: