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Question 53

Can you answer my question about a certain part of the Bible that I don't understand, When Jesus died on the cross, why did the veil tear directly in the middle?    



Answer to Question 53


In the Old Testament the veil in the temple was a constant reminder that sin renders humanity unfit for the presence of God. The word ďveilĒ in Hebrew means a screen, divider or separator and its purpose was to separate a Holy God from sinful man. Whoever entered into the Holy of Holies was entering the very presence of God. In fact, anyone except the high priest who entered the Holy of Holies would die. Even the high priest, Godís chosen mediator with His people, could only pass through the veil and enter this sacred dwelling once a year, on a prescribed day called the Day of Atonement.


To do this the high-priest had to make some meticulous preparations: He had to wash himself, put on special clothing, bring burning incense to let the smoke cover his eyes from a direct view of God, and bring blood with him to make atonement for sins. ("But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.") (Hebrews 9:7)


So the presence of God remained shielded from man behind a thick curtain during the history of Israel. However, Jesusí sacrificial death on the cross changed that. When He died, the curtain in the Jerusalem temple was torn in half, from the top to the bottom. Only God could have carried out such an incredible feat because the veil was too high for human hands to have reached it, and too thick to have torn it. The curtain was about 60 feet in height, 30 feet in width and four inches thick. Furthermore, it was torn from top down, meaning this act must have come from above.


We understand by this that with the veil torn in two the Holy of Holies was exposed and Godís presence was now accessible to all. The torn veil symbolises Jesusí body sacrificed for us, opening the way for us to come to God. As Jesus cried out ďIt is finished!Ē on the cross, He was indeed proclaiming that Godís redemptive plan was now complete. The age of animal offerings was over. The ultimate offering had been sacrificed.  The Holy of Holies is a representation of heaven itself, Godís dwelling place, which we now have access to through Christ. St. Paul writes: "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." (Hebrews 10:19-22)