DayBreaks for 3/12/18: The Message of the Torn Veil
As I write this, a couple that is very dear to me is traveling in Israel, visiting the “holy” sites and seeing with their own eyes where the incredible stories from the bible took place. I am so excited for them – after having been there twice myself, I am dying to go back – and would do so again and again and again. There is something about being there that truly makes it “alive”. You sense more than ever the price that was paid for your sin, the gratitude for what happened in that holy city reaches a fever pitch. It changes you.
Recently I was reflecting on this passage: Luke 23:44-46 (ESV) – It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.
Having been in Jerusalem, I can picture the sky darkening in mid-day (notice it doesn’t say that clouds were the issue – it says that the “sun’s light faded” – that’s a miraculous occurrence). I have been on top of the temple mount and tried to picture what happened there when the veil was ripped into two (and we are told elsewhere it happened from top to bottom, indicating it wasn’t of human doing).
I have thought before of the significance of that tearing. Because the veil was there to separate the Presence from the people (it covered the entrance to the Most Holy Place where only the high priest was allowed once a year) I always assumed it simply indicated that that which separated God from man, the sin blots on our souls, had been opened so we could have access to God. And I do believe that is true, and certainly part of the meaning. But I think there was more to it, too.
A sign of deep grief for the ancient middle east (and even in some places in the modern age) is the rending, or tearing of one’s garments as a display of the anguish of heart and soul of the one grieving. It’s one thing to see the holy city and imagine the darkness. It’s another thing to see God’s heart being torn in two because of what was happening on the cross – his beloved son dying an unworthy death and of the price being paid for our forgiveness. We often think that grown men don’t cry because they are big and tough. Well, there’s nothing and no one bigger and tougher than God, and yet I think that the tearing of the veil not only represented the opening of access to God through the blood being spilled on Calvary, but also the tearing of God’s heart. The fact that it was torn from top to bottom mimics the way ancients tore their clothes in grief – and in this case, it very clearly means that God was the One who was doing the tearing.
We don’t often think about the anguish of God. But doesn’t it make sense that if we are anguished by the brokenness in the world and by the death of our beloved friends and relatives, that God was anguished even more than we? He is perfect – in wisdom, knowledge, justice – but he certainly must also be perfect in his emotions like love, compassion, mercy – and even perfect in his grief.
We will never know the pain in the Father’s heart. We could never fathom its depths. Could it be that the sky darkened as the pain multiplied exponentially with every sin laid on the sinless one, until finally God could bear it no longer and the veil torn because of the anguish of God?
PRAYER: We often think of the anguish of Jesus on the cross, Father, but I fear we seldom think of Your anguish as You beheld that scene. May we rend our clothes in anguish over our sin that caused You such pain and turn to You in sackcloth and ashes. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.