“And you and your sons with you shall guard your priesthood for all that concerns the altar and that is within the veil; and you shall serve. I give your priesthood as a gift, and any outsider who comes near shall be put to death.”
“And the veil shall separate for you the Holy Place from the Most Holy.” Exodus 26:33
“And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.” Matthew 27:50-51
One of my favorite details in the accounts from Jesus’ crucifixion is the splitting of the veil in the temple. Torn from top to bottom. God effectively eliminating the separation between us and His holiness. Not that His holiness, His righteousness and justice and glory, had lessened or been tarnished in any way. But He had made a way for us to know His grace, to come before His presence without fear of His wrath.
Jesus died in our place. It sounds simple. Easily taken for granted. But He endured the wrath of God for us. He took on the weight and guilt of every sin and paid the full price for our rebellion. Our great offenses against the Most High God were paid for. Justice was satisfied. Everything that Jesus chose to go through was everything that we deserve, and He went through it not because we showed any sign of righteousness on our own, but because God loves us that much.
What a feeling of victory and delight God must have felt when He tore the temple veil. This was hope on display for His people. Those called by His name. Those who would draw near to Him, who would know fullness of joy in His presence, who would receive His Spirit and be transformed into His likeness. The tearing of this curtain was a promise to us that there is no longer any separation between us and our God. Through Christ, we can enter into the Most Holy Place. We can come before the mercy seat as we are and find grace to cleanse us.
“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:19-23