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Gleanings In Exodus

43. The Veil


Exodus 26:31-33

In our last article we had before us the framework of the Tabernacle proper. i.e., the holy place and the most holy. Outside of this, as we shall yet see, D.V., was the court of the Tabernacle, completing its threefold division. Thus there was really a Tabernacle within a tabernacle. Inside the framework of the golden-covered boards, celled by the lovely curtains and their coverings, were the two inner rooms. These were separated by another curtain, called "the Veil." It was this which divided the holy place from the holy of holies. The first compartment would thus be thirty feet by fifteen, and the innermost, a separate apartment of fifteen feet by fifteen. In this innermost chamber was Jehovah’s throne upon the ark, where the Shekinah-glory dwelt between the two cherubim.

In the verses which form the basis of our present study, we find Jehovah giving instructions to Moses concerning the Veil. He is told of what material it must be made, the manner of its workmanship, and where and how to hang it. Its presence before the holy of holies invested it with a peculiar sanctity and the light from the lampstand shining upon it would reveal its varied beauties. There it hung for five hundred years before the eyes of Israel’s priests as they ministered at the table and the golden altar. It announced, in the language of symbolry, that the way of approach to God was not then made known. But inasmuch as it was a curtain and not a wall of stone or metal, there was more than a hint given of its temporary nature, and that ultimately a way of access would be revealed. Seven things will now engage our attention: —

1. Its Material.

"And thou shalt make a veil of blue, and purple, and scarier, and fine twined linen of cunning work" (v. 31). Like the ten white curtains which formed the inner ceiling of the Tabernacle, the Veil was made of linen, on which the beautiful colors were wrought. But it was not merely linen, but of "fine twined linen;" pointing to the moral excellency of Him who was foreshadowed. The same thought is given in the "fine flour" (Lev. 2:1), and in the "refined gold" (1 Chron. 28:18) and "refined silver" (1 Chron. 29:4) which was used in the Temple.

The whiteness of the pure linen used in the Veil pointed to the sinless purity of "the Man Christ Jesus" both in His inward thoughts and desires and in His outward ways and works. The eye of God, who is light, could rest upon that Holy One, and find every ray of His own perfect Being reflected in this lowly but lovely Son of man. "The fine linen of the Veil seems, then, especially to present to us ‘the Righteous One,’ who in His life of toil and sorrow, and most especially in His death of shame and suffering, manifested that unsullied purity, that perfect obedience, and that delight in accomplishing the will of His Father, whereby He has earned for Himself a name, which is above every name, the name of Jesus; ‘Who was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him’" (Mr. Soltau).

Attention should be called to the words "fine twined linen of cunning work," an expression used in connection with the Tabernacle only in the "linen" and the "breastplate." As there is nothing meaningless in Scripture we are assured there is a profound spiritual significance in this detail too. It tells us that this fabric was skillfully wrought: literally, the Hebrew is: "the work of a deviser." Divine wisdom was given for its manufacture and it was copied from a heavenly pattern: its equal never again being found on earth. As this "fine twined linen" foreshadowed the humanity of our Savior, would not the "cunning work" point to the Divine omniscience in devising for Christ a human nature that was sinless? "A body hast Thou prepared Me" (Heb. 10:5) would give us the anti-type. Gabriel’s words to Mary betokened the wonder of Immanuel’s birth—see Luke 1:28-35.

2. Its Colors.

"And thou shalt make a veil of blue. and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work." There is one little variation here from what was before us in 26:1. In connection with the Curtains, the ground-work of "fine twined linen" was mentioned first, ere the colors are specified; but here in the directions for the making of the Veil the colors are referred to first. This seems to intimate that our attention now is to be concentrated more on what was prefigured by the blue and purple and scarlet rather than on what was foreshadowed by the linen itself. The colors told of Heaven, the Cross and the Throne. Probably the colors were used so freely that little of the white linen would be visible.

3. Its Meaning.

This is specifically defined for us by the Holy Spirit in Hebrews 10:19, 20: "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath newly-made for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh." The Veil, then, spoke of the humanity of Christ, of the Son of God incarnate. The one side of it was seen by human eyes, as the Levites ministered in the Sanctuary; the other side was beheld only by Jehovah. The Veil, therefore, was a fitting type that Christ incarnate was perfect God and perfect Man. The colors which were embroidered upon it told of the perfections of His person. Its purpose was to shut out the priests of Israel from the holy of holies, where Jehovah had His earthly throne. The object of a veil is to hide. "Come not" (Lev. 16:2) was the warning which it consistently gave forth. Thus the Veil foreshadowed the moral glories of the Savior, but at the same time showed, by the very display of such heavenliness of character, how far fallen man was away from God.

The perfect Manhood of Christ exhibited the only humanity which can approach unto God, which can live in His presence. which can dwell in the blazing light of His manifested glory The perfections of the God-man only served to emphasize the imperfections of fallen man. The flawless life of Christ made the more evident the awful distance between the thrice holy God and depraved and guilty sinners. "The Incarnation of Christ. while it proclaimed God, shuts out man. Men might admire the beauty of the Veil; as men may today admire the human character of Christ after the flesh, and the teaching of His earthly life. But the more perfect we find that humanity, the greater the evidence that it is totally distinct from man’s. The Incarnation by itself (apart from the redemption which was the purpose and object of it) neither brings man to God, nor God to men. True, it was ‘God with us’ just as the Tabernacle was with men: but, when the symbol of God’s presence was with men, man could not have access to it. The beautiful Veil was an effectual bar, and its one and only voice was ‘Come not.’ The life of Christ on earth was an unceasing proclamation of the fact that only His humanity was shone upon by and dwelt in the glory of God. The proclamation of His life ever was: ‘Except ye be holy, sinless, spotless, perfect, as I am, ye cannot enter into the presence of God. It was not the object of the Veil to give access to God; for it was that which prevented it. Even so it was not the perfection of Christ’s life on earth that brings us into the presence of God" (Dr. E. W. Bullinger).

Typically, the Veil, in O.T. times, announced that the way in to God’s presence was not then made manifest. It did not suggest that there was no way, but simply that the way was not then revealed. Subsequently, we find that Jehovah gave instructions as to how Israel’s high priests might pass within the Veil, and that was, by the blood of sacrifice (Lev. 16:19). This, too, foreshadowed the coming Substance, yet also bore testimony to the temporary nature of that dispensation. It announced that the way for sinful man to go to God was by sacrifice, yet the one Aaron offered was not that which opened up the real way to God. The Veil unrent signified that the way into the Holiest was not yet revealed. The sacrifice by which Aaron went in once a year foreshadowed the perfect Sacrifice, and his admittance typified the entrance of our Great High Priest into the Heavenly Sanctuary.

"The Veil still unrent declared that if the way in was by sacrifice, the true Sacrifice—the one which really opened up the actual way to the presence of God—had not yet been provided. But if the unrent Veil signified that the true way was not yet made known, it also implied it would be made known. Faith, then, using what was a figure for the time then present, and what had been imposed on Israel until the time of reformation looked forward to the time of the revelation of the true Sacrifice and the manifestation of the true way of approach to God. Turning now to the N.T., we find that when Christ died as a Sacrifice the Veil of the Temple was rent from the top to the bottom. This rending of the Veil declared that the true way to God had been made known. The sacrifice of Christ is the true ground of approach to God. His death, His blood, has opened up the way to His presence. The rending of the Veil of the Temple when Christ died, was the sign that the way to God which faith had been taught to look forward to had been opened up. The Sacrifice which the yearly sacrifice of Leviticus 16 had pointed forward to had been made, and the way to God, of which the Veil was a witness, while declaring it to be unmanifested, was now revealed" (Mr. C. Crain).

4. Its Cherubim.

"With cherubim shall it be made" (v. 31). The typical significance of the cherubim here is a double one, accordingly as we view the Veil itself in its twofold aspect. First, the Veil sets forth the excellencies of Christ’s person as the incarnate Son of God. In this connection the cherubim would intimate that no matter whether the Lord Jesus be contemplated as the Man from Heaven (1 Cor. 15:47), yet in it (John 3:13), even when on earth (the "blue"); or on the Cross as an expiatory sacrifice (the "scarlet"); or on the Throne (the "purple"), He carries in His own person the Judicial authority of the eternal God. Second. the Veil unrent signified that the perfections of Christ only served to emphasize the truth that sinful man had no access to God. This solemn fact would be the more impressively set forth by the cherubim wrought upon it. As the priests gazed on the Veil, and saw the mystic figures standing out in vivid colors, would not their thoughts turn at once to what is recorded in Genesis 3:24? When God banished His rebellious creatures from Eden, He placed cherubim at the entrance to the Garden. with flaming sword which turned every way. Here on the Veil these cherubim taught the same lesson; sinful man, as such, cannot approach the ineffably holy God!

5. Its Position.

"And thou shalt hang up the Veil under the taches . . . and the veil shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy"(v. 33). The Veil was placed right over the entrance of the holy of holies and thus effectually shut out those who ministered in the holy place. God dwelt behind the Veil. Its very location, then. furnished the key to its significance. As the Veil sets forth the "flesh" of Christ. we are specifically taught that His humanity was the veil of the Godhead. God was enveiled, as well as unveiled, by the Lord Jesus. "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself" (2 Cor. 5:19). And most effectively did the unsullied person of the Son of man bar the sinner’s way unto God This is self evident. If the humanity of Christ is the standard humanity, if it is the humanity in which alone God will dwell, if it is the only humanity which can enter the Glory. then the humanity of Christ is a barrier to the fallen sons of men. So long as Christ walked this earth He witnessed to the separation of the natural man from God.

"He stood forth as the perfect Man, who alone was fit to appear before God; the standard weight of the sanctuary. Any one, weighed against Him. was found wanting. His perfect righteousness placed in dark shade the uncleanness of all men. The measure of His stature declared the utter insignificance of all human attainments. His fullness proved man’s emptiness. The white and glistening purity of His character, exceeding white as snow. put to shame the filthiness of all that was born of woman. Thus, the very display of the Perfect One on earth, showed the impossibility of any approach to God, unless some way could be devised whereby the sinner could draw near, clothed in garments unsullied. Man, both Jew and Gentile, had made it plain that he was by nature a sinner, and had come short of the glory of God; and the presence amongst men, of One who was fit for that glory, only rendered the melancholy fact the more apparent. The Veil, as it hung on its golden pillars, precluded entrance into the holiest: the ark and the mercy-seat were hidden, instead of being laid open to public gaze" (Mr. G. Soltau).

6. Its Supports.

"And thou shalt hang it on four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver" (v. 32). The "pillars" of wood and gold, symbolized once more, the two natures in the God-man. They intimated that everything in redemption depended upon the person of Christ. Unless He had become Man, it had been impossible for Him to die; unless He had been more than Man, His sacrifice could not have availed. But being both God and Man He was fully competent to make propitiation for the sins of His people. The whole value of His work accrues from the peerless excellency of His person. That these "pillars" were four in number, shows it is Christ on earth which was contemplated. It is to be carefully noted that these "four pillars" were without the "fillets" and "chapiters" which adorned the five pillars at the door of the Tabernacle (36:38): thus they lacked the architectural completeness of a pillar. Their abrupt termination pointed to the Savior "cut off" in the midst of His days" (Isa. 53:8; Psalm 102:23, 24).

But the "four pillars" were for another purpose: they served to display the Veil in all its beauty. Between them the Veil was stretched out. Without them, the Veil had hung in folds, and the loveliness of its embroidered designs would not have appeared. The Veil spoke of God the Son incarnate. Now the antitype of this is clearly before us in the opening books of the N.T. It is in the four Gospels that the glories of the God-man are revealed to our eyes. They accomplish exactly the same design as did the "four pillars." In them we have spread out, as it were, the lovely antitypical Veil. There, too, we behold the "cunning work" of the Divine Designer, blending together the varied perfections of our blessed Lord, yet severally presenting Him as the Son of David, the flawless Servant, the Son of man, and the Son of God.

"Their hooks shall be of gold": not wooden hooks overlaid, but of solid gold. This is very beautiful. In connection with the ephod of the high priest we are told, "He made the ephod of gold, blue and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen. And they did beat the gold into thin plates, and cut it into wires, to work it in the blue, and in the purple, and in the scarlet, and in the fine linen" (39:2, 3). And, as we shall yet see, D.V., golden-strands were also woven into other articles. But there were none in the fabric of the Veil. No wires of gold were mingled with the fine linen, which formed the basis of its structure. This could not be for their presence would have implied that His humanity was commingled with His Deity, which was not the case. Though Deity and humanity were perfectly united in one Person, yet they are not confounded. Nevertheless, the Veil was held by "golden hooks" from above, thus signifying the Son of man was, throughout His earthly course, sustained and supported from on High!

"Upon the four sockets of silver." It was in them that the "four pillars" securely rested. As we saw in our last article, the "silver" was provided by the "atonement-money." How significant then is this detail of our type! The "sockets" conduct us to the foundation, and point to the redemptive-work of Christ on the cross. In perfect accord with this we may note that in Hebrews 10:19, 20 the "blood of Jesus" and "the Veil" are brought together. God will never have it forgotten that the Cross is the basis of all blessing.

7. Its Rending.

The Veil unrent shut man out from God. It spoke of separation from Him because of sin. Between the priests and Jehovah stood this Veil. Between the ordinary worshipper in the outer court and Jehovah was a double partition, for he had no access into the holy place; while between the one outside the court was a threefold barrier between him and Jehovah! The whole ritual of Israel’s worship emphasized the distance between God and the creature. Bounds were set about Sinai, so that not even a beast must touch it. One Tribe alone was permitted to encamp, immediately, around the Tabernacle: one family alone of that Tribe was singled out and allowed to enter the holy place: and one man alone of that family had access into the holiest, and that, only once a year, and with such awe-inspiring preparations and ceremonies as must have filled him with fear lest he should incur the judgment of the Most High. Yet, as previously intimated, God did, even then, give a hint, that a way would be made for sinners to approach Him. In Leviticus 4:6 we learn that the priest was commanded to take of the blood of the sin-offering and sprinkle it seven times before the Lord, before the Veil of the sanctuary"! Clearer still was what was foreshadowed by the ritual of the Day of Atonement, when the high priest passed within the Veil (Lev. 16:15). The antitype of this is found in Hebrews 4:14; 6:19; 9:12. Christ has passed into Heaven itself, and what is more, He has opened up a way for us to enter too—Hebrews 10:19, 20. But this was consequent upon His death.

"It was not the beauty of the veil which made entrance possible, but the sprinkling of atoning blood before it! That beauty might be admired by the worshipper: he might sing hymns in its praise, and give all sorts of sentimental and endearing names to it. He might use all kinds of poetical language in describing it; he might even copy it, and produce similar patterns of embroidery, or schemes of colors; but there was only one way of passing to the other side of it, and of standing alive in the presence of God’s glory; and that was by sprinkling the blood before it, and taking the blood of the victim beyond it. This blood told of substitution, and acknowledged that he who entered did so as a sinner, who had died, and suffered the wages of sin. By no other means could he stand on the other side of that veil and live.

"The great antitypical lesson for us all is, that it is not by the beautiful life of Christ that we can enter into the presence of God. It is not by any ‘imitation of Christ,’ not by the observance of any Rules for Daily Living, not by leading a religious and devout life, that we can pass beyond that veil. To attempt it is to confess our ignorance of the very first letter of the Christian’s alphabet; and it is to own that we are destitute of the first fundamental lesson of the Christian’s life. It is only when the precious blood of that perfect humanity of Christ had been shed that it avails us as our title to enter God’s presence. This is why, in 1 John 1:7, when speaking of our entrance into ‘the light of God’s presence, and walking therein, that we are at once reminded of that Blood, which alone gives us our title to enter, and preserves us alive when we have entered into that Presence. ‘God is light . . . If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin;’ It is here, in this connection, that the cleansing-power of the blood is mentioned; not in connection with our sin or sinning.

"When it is a case of sin, then it is that we are reminded, not of the atoning blood of Christ, but of our Advocate with the Father; Then it is that we are simply assured of two facts:—(1) that relationship is not broken; God is still our Father; and (2) that Christ is our all-sufficient propitiation (1 John 2:1). But it is in connection with approaching to and walking in the light of God’s presence within the veil that we are reminded of the blood which must first be sprinkled before we can have either admission to Him, or preservation when there (1 John 1:7). Hence it is not the life which Christ lived in His spotless humanity (still less our own imperfect copy of it) that gives us liberty to enter, but only when that humanity had been stained by His own blood of atonement. Then it is that we have ‘boldness to enter into the Holiest, by the blood of Jesus, by a newly-slain and living way, which He hath newly-made (or opened) for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh’ Hebrews 10:19, 20" (Dr. B. W. Bullinger).

The historical reference to what is referred to in Hebrews 10 is given us in the Gospels. There we learn that simultaneous with the death of Christ the veil was rent. (Matthew 27:45-52.) There are some remarkable resemblances between the shadow and the Substance. First, the veil was rent while hanging between heaven and earth: so Christ was smitten while suspended from the Cross. Second, the veil was rent in twain from the top. this showed it was down by the same Hand as had fallen so heavily on the suffering Substitute—see Psalm 38:2; 42:7; 88:6, 7; Isaiah 53:10; Zechariah 13:7. This is the only type where God Himself represented by His own act that it was His hand which smote the Lord Jesus!] Third, it was rent "from the top to the bottom"—not an inch of it was left untorn: so the atoning work of Calvary was a complete one, nothing being left for the sinner to do or add. Fourth, it was rent "in the midst" (Luke 23:45), and thus the Mercy-seat in the center of the holy of holies would be fully revealed: so the believing sinner is not asked to approach God in any roundabout way, or through a side entrance, but has direct access to the Father through the Son. The rending of the veil in the midst, would be such that all within the temple would see it: so the death of Christ was not in a corner, but public and before many eyewitnesses. Fifth, the veil was rent the moment that Christ died (Matthew 27:50), showing that the barrier between God and the contrite sinner was gone. Sixth, as soon as the veil was rent it was changed from a barrier to a gateway: the moment Christ died a "newly-slain and living way" was opened for sinners to God. Seventh, it is deeply significant that the Holy Spirit has linked together the rending of the veil with the opening of the graves (Matthew 27:51, 52), though in time the latter did not occur till after Christ’s resurrection. Does not this tell us that, full atonement having been made by Him, a way has been made from the deepest depths into which sin had plunged us, into the highest heaven where grace has placed us!

The purpose of God has now been accomplished. The Corn of wheat, having fallen into the ground and died, now bringeth forth much fruit (John 12:24). The Blood has been shed, the Sacrifice has been offered, the Veil has been rent; and Christ, an the Forerunner of His people, has passed into the Holiest. We then may draw near. Because Christ received the wages of sin which were due us, we share the reward which was due Him. We may boldly enter in. By faith we have unhindered access into the Heavenly Sanctuary. Every barrier haying been removed, the believing worshipper may, with perfect liberty, draw near to the Throne of Grace. Then "let us draw near, with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience" (Heb. 10:22).


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