Sanctuary Lesson 14 - The Veil

As we take our leave of the Holy Place and follow the high priest into the Most Holy Place, we realize there is a large and thick curtain that is blocking the way.  While it is very intricately designed and very beautiful to behold, there seems to be an air of mystery about it.  What is this curtain?

Let's turn to Exodus 26:31-33.

- According to these verses, what was the curtain called?

  • Answer (highlight to read): The veil

- According to these verses, what was the curtain made of?

  • Answer: It was made of blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen.

- According to these verses, were there any kind of patterns or designs on the curtain?

  • Answer: There was an artistic design of cherubim woven in.

- According to these verses, how was the curtain hung between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place?

  • Answer: The veil was hung from four hooks on four acacia boards overlaid with gold.

- According to these verses, what was the function of the veil?

  • Answer: The veil was to divide the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.

Although the Bible does not tell us the exact size of the veil, the Jewish historian Josephus reported that the veil was about four inches thick!  Why were there images of angelic beings (the cherubim) designed on the veil?  Let's turn to Genesis 3:17-24 for the first mention of cherubim in the Bible.

- According to these verses, what were the cherubim guarding?

  • Answer: The cherubim were guarding the tree of life from man.

Do you remember the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden?  When Adam and Eve ate of the fruit God had forbidden to eat, they committed sin.  What is the significance of committing sin?  Let's turn to Isaiah 59:2.

- According to this verse, what does sin do to us?

  • Answer: It separates us from God.

When Adam and Eve sinned, they became contaminated and impure.  They could no longer dwell with God because of sin.  Since God's presence was in the garden, Adam and Eve could no longer be in garden.  The cherubim not only guarded the tree of life, they were also guarding God's holiness.  Mankind no longer had access to the garden.

The veil is a reminder of what we have lost as a result of sin.  It was a physical reminder of our separation from God.  The veil reminded the Israelites then (as well as us today) that there was no access to the presence of God without payment for our sins.

However, the veil is also a hopeful reminder of God's plan to dwell again with us.  God chose intermediaries through the priesthood and the high priest was allowed to enter the Most Holy Place once a year to pray, offer sacrifices, and perform other rituals so that God's people could approach and dwell with a holy God.  If you remember from our previous lessons, God provided a way to seek forgiveness - He instituted the sacrificial system where a sacrificed animal would stand in place of a sinner to appease God's justice.

The veil asks us two questions.  How do sinners relate to a holy and just God?  How can a holy and just God also be merciful and forgiving?  Let's turn to Isaiah 53:1-13; Romans 3:24-25; and 1 John 1:1-2.

- According to these verses, what is the answer to these questions?

  • Answer: Jesus Christ's death for us at the cross.

Paul the Apostle described the appeasement of God's wrath (His righteous reaction to sin) as atonement.  This atonement was accomplished by Jesus' death on the cross.  Jesus died in our guilty place.  Jesus Christ in the link to restore the broken relationship between God and humanity!  Unlike the daily animal sacrifices required in the time of the Israelites, Jesus's sacrifice only had to take place once for us (Hebrews 7:27; 1 Peter 3:18).

How is Jesus symbolized by the veil?  Let's turn to Hebrews 10:20 and Matthew 27:51.

- According to these verses, what did the veil represent?

  • Answer: Jesus' flesh

Do you now begin to see the symbolism of the veil as it was supernaturally torn from top to bottom in the sanctuary?  Perhaps the same hand that wrote on the wall of the king's palace in Daniel 5 also tore the veil asunder.  Could it be the four hooks from which the veil hung in the sanctuary testify that Jesus was to be crucified with nails cruelly driven through His hands and feet?  Is it possible that the tear in the veil correlated to the soldier piercing Jesus' side (John 19:34)?  Can you see the scarlet threads in the veil speaking of Jesus' infinite sacrifice?  Could it be that the blue threads bear testimony of Jesus' perfect obedience to God's laws?  Would the purple threads symbolize Jesus' royalty and the gold threads Jesus' divine nature?  

All these colored threads were entwined with the white linen made for a beautiful tapestry proclaiming Jesus' pure life!

Let's turn to Hebrews 4:16 and 1 John 3:2 as we close this lesson.  It is because of Jesus' sacrifice and through His precious blood as symbolized in the veil that we can once again approach God.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can live a life worthy of Christ as we allow Jesus to dwell in our hearts and hold onto the promise that one day soon, we will see God as He is and dwell with him forevermore.  

Friend, as you ponder the veil in the sanctuary, will you allow Jesus to dwell in your heart? 

Happy Sabbath!

A Short Prayer