The Veil And Its Rending

(Ex. 26:31-32).

“And thou shalt make a veil of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work; with cherubin shall it be made; and thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood, overlaid with gold, upon four sockets of silver” (Ex. 26:31. “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” (Heb. 10:19-20).

When we were looking at the gate of the court, we saw that it had four pillars, and brought before us Christ as He presents Himself in John 10:9, the door for sinners to come to God, and the four pillars suggested the four evangelists, whom God choose to give us the story of His life, death, burial and resurrection. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. But when we came to the door into the Tabernacle we found that it had five pillars, and that it typified the door of the sheep, in John 10:7, as into it only the priests could enter, whereas every Israelite might come in at the other, as he came to the altar. The door into the Tabernacle spoke of Christ in heaven, and the pillars suggest the five writers of the epistles, Paul, Peter, John, James and Jude.

Now as we come into the holy place we might wonder at finding again four pillars, but the scripture which we have had from Heb. 10 shows us that in the veil we have Christ on earth. But not only on earth, but as that verse tells us “rent” or crucified. With the meanings of those colours in our mind, it would seem as if they could not be seen at the cross, the time when He reached the deepest depths of His humiliation. That they will be seen in the beautiful set of inner curtains, one can easily understand. Well let us see.

We will take the Purple first. When Pilate had consented to let Christ be crucified, fearing the consequence of the threat—“if thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend, whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar,”—he felt he had yielded to them more than he ought to have done. So he had put up over the Cross in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” When the priests saw it, they went to Pilate to have a change made. Instead of it appearing as an absolute statement, let it be just a quotation, let it be “He said, ‘I am the King of the Jews.’” But Pilate is in the hands of God, and he has put there just what God desired to have written, and there God will have it stay. So Pilate answered them, “What I have written I have written,” and in that hour of rejection and death, crowned with thorns, He was King.

The Scarlet.—In 2 Cor. 13:4—here is a word which may seem strange to some, “He was crucified through weakness.” What a word! The mighty Maker of earth and heaven, the One who upholds all things by the word of His power, “crucified through weakness.” So weak was He in their eyes, that they taunt Him with the words, “Let Him save Himself,” “Let Him now come down from the Cross.” Sure they are that He cannot do this. They think they have Him too securely in their power to escape. Ah! it was then those words expressed the feelings of His soul, “I am a worm and no man.” Man in his pride tramples Him, and like the worm He does not strike back. They think it is because He cannot. Yet at that moment legions of angels were ready to obey His word, but that word remained unspoken. “There was the hiding of His power.” “He was crucified through weakness.” Here is the “Worm-Scarlet.”

The Fine Twined Linen.—We have the true pure humanity of Christ in this scene also, and we would emphasize the word “fine.” It describes Him as it cannot any other. Not even the holiest of His servants would claim that word. Notice how we get it in the hour of His sore distress. Looking down from the Cross, He saw Mary, the one through whom He had come into this world as the “Seed of the woman.” Age is now coming on her, and He is not unmindful of that. So turning His eyes toward her He says, “Woman, behold thy son,” and then to John, “Behold thy mother.” Thus He provided for her in old age. For John took her to his home from that hour. Once he had to remind her of her proper place, in the words, “Woman, what have I to do with thee, Mine hour is not yet come.” That was divine in its perfection then, as this is here. We bow our haads in the presence of such a scene. At that moment what pain He was undergoing, yet the claims of nature are met. This surely marks Him off as the One of whom the fine twined linen speaks.

Blue.—If there was one place where we might have expected to see the blue omitted, surely it is at the Cross. But it is not, and what is more, it shines with a lustre which makes it impossible for us to fail to see it. By His side hangs a convicted robber. At first, he is just like the other one; he joins in taunting Christ. As he watches the Holy Sufferer at his side, a wonderful change takes place. He sees that One who, the object of all man’s scorn and hatred, suffering so meekly, his eyes beaming with tenderest love and pity for the men who are glorying in His sufferings. He learns that this is no mere man, or He would never act like that. And as the other is still going on reviling Christ, he rebukes him with words, “Dost thou thou fear God, seeing thou are in the same condemnation, and we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds, but this Man hath done nothing amiss.” Then to Christ he says, “Lord, remember me, when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.” What a rebuke to the unbelief of so many to-day who excuse their want of faith by saying that they do not know what to believe when so many clever men don’t believe in Christ, or in the Word of God. Here the whole nation had branded Christ as an imposter. The men who are supposed to know, priests and scribes, all join in treating Him as a criminal, and as a criminal He is dying. But this awakened sinner’s faith rises above the tide of unbelief which surges around that Cross, and its manifestation is the use of that word, “Lord.” Here the Blue shines out. The faith of that thief brings out an answer at once. The Lord replies, “Verily I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with Me in paradise.” What did that mean? Just this, that as God, to whom belong the issues from death, who alone can liberate the prisoner from his bondage, He speaks the delivering word, and that poor sinner is snatched from the jaws of death—eternal death. It means that he is now a trophy of saving grace. We feel indignant at the wicked sophistry that would make the Lord to say, “Verily to-day I am saying unto you, you will be with Me in paradise,” which would mean that not then, but in a future age, the dying thief would be with Christ in paradise. No, not at all! what Christ did say and mean was, that that very day, while the dead body of the thief would be thrown into Hinnom’s vale, and the holy body of our blessed Lord would be lying in Joseph’s new rock-hewn sepulchre, his soul, with that of his Saviour, would be in paradise.

What an earnest of victory, won by weakness and defeat, we see in the salvation of that malefactor! Yes, the blue shines out on the Cross, in spite of all its suffering and darkness. Thus, all that the Veil proclaimed beforehand, we trace with wonder and adoration in Him there.

The Rending Of The Veil, Or God Manifested.

As long as that Veil hung intact, it told out that God was not fully manifested. It spoke of a work which had to be done, and until that work was done, God could not fully manifest Himself as a God of grace. As the high priest alone went in, and only once in a year, he emphasised that solemn truth. And so the centuries rolled on, and the Temple took the place of the Tabernacle, but the Veil, as in the Tabernacle, was still the division between the Holy and the Most Holy places. It says that God had not yet been fully glorified, and could not manifest Himself. But there came a moment, to which the eternity of the past had looked forward and to which the eternity of the future will look back, the pivot of all earth’s history. Outside Jerusalem, on the centre one of three crosses, the Son of God is nailed—the One of whom Isaiah spake, the One at whose birth in Bethlehem the angles sang. He was crucified at the third hour (9 a.m.). For three hours, until the sixth (12 noon), we have the gaping crowd from the city streaming past the Cross, and wagging their heads at Him as He hung there. During these hours, the rod was in the hand of man, and then it was he used it upon that Holy Sufferer.

The Sixth Hour.—Six speaks of man’s limit, and he has gone as far as he could go, in his cruel treatment of the Son of God. Then begins His real sufferings. Don’t think we look lightly upon those hours of shame and pain, which, to Him, would inflict keener suffering, than the coarser natures of the thieves were capable of knowing. But the sufferings of those three hours, from the sixth to the ninth, must for ever pass the comprehension of our finite minds. The darkness which fell upon that scene, only suggested that deeper darkness into which He had entered. Jehovah had laid upon Him our load of sin, and now hides His face from Him. Then was wrung from His heart the cry of deep distress, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me.”

The Ninth Hour.—“At the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice,” and then we read that the Temple Veil was rent. We have pointed out that Three speaks of God manifested. Now Nine, which is three times three, just emphasises that. So you see how God bears witness to the blessed fact, that through the death of Christ He can now reveal Himself.

Away far from the clamour of that scene, in the silence of the sanctuary, at that hour, as the priest attends to his office, he hears a sound as if some fabric were being torn, and looking toward the Veil, he sees a great rent in its materials. No hand is visible, but beginning from the top, and continuing right down, the Veil now hangs in two pieces, “rent in the midst.” Yes, that death on Calvary has put sin away and glorified God. Now He will reveal Himself in grace to sinners, and as priests, believers now no longer stand at a distance, but find their permanent and eternal place of worship in the very presence of their Father—God. No special class, alone and apart, now draw nigh, while the mass of the people of God remain at a distance. Of all who are saved, that word is true, “Made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13).

The Curtains Of Fine Twined Linen, Blue, Purple And Scarlet; Or Christ Glorified.

(Ex. 26:1-6).

Having spoken about the Veil and its rending, we can now more appropriately say another word about these beautiful curtains. Over 20 times these colours are mentioned in connection with the Tabernacle, and with just three exceptions it is the Blue which we have first. The three exceptions refer to the Veil and the Girdle of the high priest. Surely chance has nothing

The Rent Veil

whatever to do with the fact that when it is the veil the blue is always first, and when it is the curtains the fine twined linen is always first.

We shall try and make the reason for this clear. The veil speaks of Christ on earth as Man. And that the blue is put first, is God’s way of in type emphasizing that wondrous mystery, the incarnation. “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16).

God never changes the position of a word save for some reason, and so if I read “Jesus Christ” in one passage and “Christ Jesus” in another, then I am to learn something from the change. And the first name is the one which the emphasis should be laid upon, and so Jesus Christ fixes my thoughts upon His as on earth, while Christ Jesus brings Him before me as now raised from the dead in heaven.

So when speaking of the veil, the spirit mentions Blue first, inviting me to ponder the mighty truth, that we have in John 1:14, that the Word, the Creator of all worlds, “Became flesh and dwelt among us.”

With the same unerring exactness in the curtains, the Holy Spirit ever puts the linen first. Linen, the lowly product of the ground, God uses to speak of the spotless humanity of His Only Begotten Son. And in mentioning it always first in the curtains, the words of the apostle in 2 Tim. 2:8 come to mind. “Remember Jesus Christ risen from the dead, of the seed of David according to my gospel.” (R.V.)

Heb. 1:3 shows us the sin purger, “Sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” chap. 2:8. “We see Jesus—crowned with glory and honour.” Of all the gospels, Mark is the one which chose to present His Son as the Servant, and he closes his gospel with Jesus “sat down at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19. R.V.)

The veil and the curtains alike had cherubic figures wrought with a gold thread in them. As the veil was rent asunder, we see those heavenly creatures rent. And how that spoke of the tragedy of Calvary, when the Son of God from heaven suffered that shameful death. But those creatures in the curtains overhead, seem to say, the cross is past, and He who suffered is on the throne, and under His wings as the glorified man, all the redeemed find shelter.