The Veil (Ex. 26:31-35; 36: 35-38) acted as a barrier between God and man. In Hebrew the word is paroketh and it means “to separate”. Simply put, the veil shut God in and kept man out. There was only one day when the two could come together (Yom Kippur), and then, only one man (the High Priest), was allowed to enter. Skillfully woven, the veil hung from gold hooks supported by four pillars of acacia wood overlaid with gold, and resting in silver bases. Figures of cherubim (angelic beings of the highest order) were woven into the veil. They symbolized God’s protective presence over the Holy of Holies. According to the Talmud (a written collection of Jewish tradition, history, and interpretations of the Torah) the veil was 60' long and 30' wide, 4-6" thick (that’s THICK!!!). It was made of 72 square yards of wool sewn together. According to Jewish tradition, it took 300 men to hang it.
The veil signifies several great spiritual truths. First and foremost it reminds us that sin once separated us from God, but Christ, as our High Priest, has brought us back into fellowship with God (Heb. 9:1-14). Secondly, it represents the fact that Jesus’ glory was also veiled when He took on flesh (Jn. 1:14; Phil. 2:5-8) and was only briefly visible during His earthly ministry (Mt. 17:1-8). Third, it reminds us that we did not have any access to God before the finished work of Christ on the cross. Mt. 27:45-53 records that the veil was torn from the top to the bottom at the time of Jesus’ death. Considering that the veil was 6" thick, 60' by 30' in size, and that it took a large amount of men to hang it, it was obvious no one could tear it in this manner.
Lastly, there is still a veil between ourselves and God, but it is not the veil of sin that separates us. It is the limitations of our earthly bodies that will be removed when we are reunited with our Creator and we shall be fully like Him (1 Cor. 13:9-12). At that time we will enter the presence of God without fear, unlike the High Priest who entered the Holy of Holies once a year to offer atonement for the nation of Israel (Lev. 16:1-34). History tells us that this became such a moment of fear among the priesthood that by Jesus’ day a long cord was tied around the priest’s ankle, just in case he entered inappropriately and was struck dead. The cord would allow the priest’s body to be pulled out so that no one else would die! But now because we are in Christ, we can draw near to God in confidence (Heb. 4: 14-16, 7:23-25).
I often imagine what it might have been like to pass through that massive curtain and set foot inside the Holy of Holies; to see the Ark of the Covenant with the cherubim gazing down upon its cover with their wings spread out overhead. It must have been both awesome and overwhelming to be in the presence of God’s glory. It has been said that the angels stared down upon the Mercy Seat (the name for the top of the Ark) in wonder for they do not have the experience of salvation as we do. And then I realize that for me the greater wonder is that I can pass through the curtain into God’s presence any time I desire and I don’t have to be a priest to do it. The curtain has been parted for me through the atoning work of Christ. The blood of sacrifice that was sprinkled on the Ark by priests in the past has been surpassed by the blood of Christ. The sins represented by that fabricated division have been paid for by Him- ALL of them. Even more so is the fact that the Lord no longer dwells in a building such as the Tabernacle or the Temple, but instead has taken up residence in me by the indwelling of His Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19; Eph. 1:13; 2 Tim. 1:14)! Curtains may have both a decorative and functional purpose in my home, but now they are a reminder of a great spiritual truth: the veil is torn, the curtain is parted and I am welcome to enter the presence of God (Heb. 10:19-23).
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
https://www.annhlefevre.com; Olivetreeann@mail.com; https://www.linkedin.com/in/annhlefevre; https://www.facebook.com/ann.h.lefevre