The Veil of The temple Torn In Two
“Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split.” Matthew 27: 51
The interior of the temple proper was divided into two holy places. The part nearest the entrance was called the sanctuary or holy place. Here were kept a sacred lamp stand, a table for ceremonial bread, and an altar for incense. A second area was called the Holy of Holies or the Most Holy Place.
This inner room once contained a golden censer for incense and a mysterious box called the ark of the covenant containing souvenirs from the wilderness wanderings: the stone tablets, Aaron’s rod which budded, and a golden pot of manna. Upon this ark was placed a mercy seat, a kind of altar, with sculptured winged cherubs of hammered gold at each end.
Only the high priest could venture into this holiest place, and that only once a year with the blood of animal sacrifice for atonement. This Most Holy Place was closed off by an enormous curtain.
The Temple In Jesus Day
The temple of Jesus’ day was new. Solomon’s temple had long ago been destroyed by the Babylonians. It was rebuilt under great stress in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah with the help of Darius king of Medo-Persia. However it was inferior to Solomon’s temple (and the one Ezekiel saw in his visions.) About twenty years before Jesus came, work commenced to reconstruct this somewhat shabby temple. Herod did this to please the Jews and the result was a truly magnificent. It was still being completed at the time of Jesus ministry. The disciples of Jesus truly admired its architecture. One day as Jesus was looking at it with them he made a most dire prophecy. He ironically but accurately foretold its destruction
“Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” Matthew 24:1-2
Later, at our Lord’s crucifixion, the great curtain veiling the Holiest place was torn from top to bottom. The room that no one dare enter upon fear of death was laid open, bare for all to look into. The Ark of the Covenant was now gone, the holy artifacts now all gone. (Taken to Babylon during the Captivity and lost to antiquity…) Nevertheless, the symbolism was there to be seen by all. The veil of the temple that was split wide open from top to bottom meant that now the way into the Holy of Holies, God’s presence was open through the rending or slaying of Christ on the Cross. It happened at the same moment that Jesus Shouted from the Cross just before he died; “It is finished!”
The Lord could have destroyed the temple right there with the earth quake as mentioned in Verse 51; But he did not. That wasn’t coming for another 40 years (70 AD) a pivotal moment in Jewish history.
God could not have given the Jews a clearer sign. Christ had opened the way into the Holiest Place; the temple, its priesthood, and its blood sacrifices were now defunct. The final sin offering had been made. God did not destroy the temple then because He was giving the Jews time to make a voluntary end to sacrifice and offering, and to recognize the death of his beloved Son instead as the final sacrifice for sins.
Sign Number 2
Caiphas The HighPriest and His Council Could Have Lead The Way
The one man who had been allowed to enter the Holiest Place through the curtain was Caiaphas the high priest. As the Temple Priest he beheld the torn curtain, did he forget that only days ago he himself had spoken under the spirit of prophecy to the Pharisees who were plotting to kill Jesus?
“And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation…”
John 11: 49-51 (Also see John 18:14)
Caiaphas himself had later challenged Jesus,
“ And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”
Jesus said to him, “It is as you said…” Matthew 26: 63-64
When Caiaphas later found the temple’s curtain had been torn at the very hour Jesus died upon the cross, why did he not reconsider? Why did he not declare an end to the Law of Moses and to animal sacrifice? Why did he not declare that of a truth Jesus was the Promised messiah?
Sign Number 3
The Day of Pentecost
Some weeks later another sign attracted the attention of all Jerusalem. During this time devout Jews from every nation within the Roman Empire were celebrating the Feast of Pentecost at the temple. On that day, there was a miraculous outpouring of The Holy Spirit upon 120 people who miraculously began speaking the various languages of the pilgrims. The Apostle Peter stood up in the temple and preached salvation through Jesus Christ and 3000 souls’ responded to His message. He told them that Jesus was now the one died for their sins. But it did not stir Caiaphas and his council of 70 elders
The animal sacrifices continued in the temple the rituals continued on with hardly a hiccup. Animal sacrifices should have ceased the very day Jesus died and the veil of the temple was rent in two. Caiaphas should have begun to realize what his own prophecy meant. Another sign (proof) was added when Jesus’ tomb was found empty. . But none are so blind as those who refuse to see. Witnesses were bribed and the miracles were all explained away. All animal sacrifices should have ceased in the temple after Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit from heaven upon Jerusalem. But no. The bloody slaughter of animals went on for another generation. It continued until it ceased by force, when the temple was destroyed by Rome in 70 AD
A Controversial Question
Were peoples sins forgiven through the blood of animals slaughtered in the temple after Jesus laid down his life and shed his own precious blood?
Some say that animal sacrifices still held good for some people after the crucifixion and up till the end of them in 70 AD. Others will say that God allowed the old covenant to continue in effect for the sake of a generation of Jews who did not readily accept the gospel.
I think not! (Read Hebrews 10:4-22)
“And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.” Hebrews 10:11
Regardless of the dispute, there is no dispute about this; that Now, Today, Christ is and always shall be the final sin offering. He put a definite end to the offering of animals as an act of atonement.
His cross abolished animal sacrifice that only covered sin. His precious blood washes away, cancels out all sin for ever and ever; never to be remembered against us any more.
That’s Something to Think About!