And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
Those verses always give me the chills no matter how many times I read them.
I have been reading in Leviticus lately, which I must admit is not easy and downright boring sometimes, but it can also be really interesting when you read it along with the New Testament. Seeing the law, all the thousands of tiny regulations and rules. (have I ever mentioned that I can’t stand rules?) The Israelites had to constantly be aware to not make themselves unclean, to look over their day and wonder if they needed to make another sacrifice. They had to be careful not to touch someone who was unclean and keep track of the hours to know how long that uncleanness would last.
If you were a Priest you had to be even more careful and when it was time to offer a sacrifice or enter the Holy Place or the Holy of Holies it was with fear and trembling wondering if you had taken the proper steps and if God would accept you.
But then Jesus came. He was the spotless perfect lamb, the lamb that wouldn’t just cover our sins but would destroy them. And the veil was torn.
Solomon’s temple was 30 cubits high (1 Kings 6:2), but Herod had increased the height to 40 cubits, according to the writings of Josephus, a first century Jewish historian. There is uncertainty as to the exact measurement of a cubit, but it is safe to assume that this veil was somewhere near 60 feet high. Josephus also tells us that the veil was four inches thick and that horses tied to each side could not pull the veil apart. The book of Exodus teaches that this thick veil was fashioned from blue, purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen. (read more)
The thick veil that separated us from God for about four thousand years. The veil that only could be crossed by one specific person once a year and always with fear and trembling was demolished. Now we can go directly to God without Priests or any human mediator. Jesus is our mediator. His blood washes us clean of even the worst sins.
Can you imagine the sound the veil would have made when it was torn? It definitely wouldn’t have been quiet, it would have left your ears ringing. Did it cause the earthquake that shook Jerusalem (it certainly shook the world in a non-literal sense so it would be fitting for it to have been the cause of the literal earthquake), was it like the the volcano Krakatoa that was heard all over the world?
It is pretty amazing to think about everything that changed in that moment, nothing would ever be the same. Now instead of rules and fear we can enter boldly into the presence of God knowing that when he looks at us He sees His beloved Son.
Does that give you chills too?