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Seeds of the Kingdom

The curtain of the temple

by Richard Hemery

14 December 2009

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At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
Matthew 27:51, NIV

‘At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom’. Matthew 27:51). The moment in question is found in the previous verse ‘Jesus…gave up his spirit’. The very moment Jesus died, the temple curtain, which separated the holy place from the most holy place, was torn completely in two. The priests in the temple must have witnessed this terrifying spectacle – by their testimony we know it was torn from top to bottom. To tear it at all would be almost impossible - the curtain was said to be 60 feet long, 30 feet wide, and as thick as the palm of a man's hand. We are told that this curtain was so heavy that 300 priests were needed to carry it, when it was taken down for washing. The way it was torn was an obvious act of God.

What was God saying through this – what does the earthly act signify in heaven? The earthly curtain, a symbol of the separation of God from man because of sin, was now obsolete. It was replaced by a heavenly one – the body of Jesus himself. In this body he overcame sin and the problems of separation from God. Through His body we have a new and living way of approaching God.

The first curtain offered very limited access to God, even while the Temple stood. It was only accessible in Jerusalem, only for the male Jew who was High Priest, and only one day a year, as part of a religious ritual. As Hebrews 9:8 says ‘The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the most holy place had not yet been disclosed’ By contrast the new curtain is always open everywhere to anyone who believes that Jesus, the new High Priest, went ahead of us, presenting the sweet aroma of a totally surrendered life to the Father, and offering not the blood of an animal, but His own blood, not for His own sins, but ours. What is our response to this? ‘Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith’ Hebrews 10:22. A curtain is not an end in itself but a means of coming to the Father. We should not come empty handed, but bring an offering of thanks and praise for the amazing access we now enjoy. Do not waste time outside, draw near!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You that Your body is now our open, living access to God. We hear Your call to ‘draw near’ and enter the most holy place in full assurance of faith, bearing a sacrifice of praise.

Richard Hemery was born in Surrey, United Kingdom and studied archaeology and ancient history at University. He has been a Christian for 20 years and has been part of the Ellel Ministries team at Pierrepont since 2001 working as the bookshop manager.

 

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