“Torn From Top To Bottom” ; The Tabernacle’s Veil

And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit.  And at once the curtain of the sanctuary of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; the earth shook and the rocks were split”  (Matthew 27:50, 51).


A word concerning the veil or curtain; the veil was the third curtain separating a holy God from sinner man.  It separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies.  The veil was made of fine-twined “byssus“, an ancient cloth, thought to be of linen, cotton, or silk according to Webster’s Dictionary.  It was embroidered with cherubim of gold and dyed with blue, purple and scarlet.  Also in the wilderness march, it furnished a covering for the ark (Numbers 4:5).


The Greek word used is katapetasma, “that which is spread out” (petannumi) “before” (kata), hence, a “veil,” is used of the inner “veil” of the Tabernacle, Heb. 6:19; 9:3.  Literally, it means to “hide” or “cover”.

The veil protected the holiness of God in the wilderness march and in its place in the Tabernacle; protecting God’s holiness from the profanity of man; it protected both god and man.


When the temple of  Solomon was built, the veil perpetuated the Tabernacle in the wilderness.  It was larger and more elaborate.  Why?  Because of who King Solomon was!  Nothing was too grand for Solomon.  It was a beautiful work of art; gorgeous in design, artistic in color, superb in minutest detail, rich in adornment and it’s texture was exquisite:

“MOREOVER,  YOU shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains; of fine twisted linen, and blue and purple and scarlet [stuff], with cherubim skillfully embroidered shall you make them”  (Exodus 26:1).

The historian Josephus tells us that the veil was four inches thick and it was renewed each and every year: “Wild horses tied to each end of the veil, after it had been taken down, were not able to rend it asunder.”

THE VEIL was a figure of Christ’s humanity:

“Therefore,brethren, since we have full freedom and confidence to enter the [Holy of] Holies [by the power and virtue] in the blood of Jesus,    By this fresh (new) and living way which He initiated and dedicated and opened for us through the separating curtain (veil of the Holy of Holies), that is, through His flesh”  (Hebrews 10:19, 20–Amplified version).

The veil stood silently, reminding man who God was manifested into human flesh (1 Timothy 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:19).  The veil was a prophetic picture-parable of the humanity of Jesus Christ; a symbol of ‘incarnation’.


Where the veil was placed in the Tabernacle, it separated God from man.  The man-sinner could come no further than the gate of the outer court.  From that point to the Holy Place, only priests could serve.  But, even the priests were forbidden to pass the veil; only the High Priest could come past it.  And then only once a year on the Day of Atonement; Yom Kippur.  Even then on that special time, the High Priest could never enter without the blood.  It was a revelation to man how far his sin had separated himself from God.


The veil was the final barrier or separating object, as long as it was not torn or rent; a wall of separation shutting out man.  Likewise, as long as Jesus walked on earth, He separated God from man.  His perfect life convicted man:

Who has been constituted a Priest, not on the basis of a bodily legal requirement [an externally imposed command concerning His physical ancestry], but on the basis of the power of an endless and indestructible Life”             (Hebrews 7:16).

Jesus’ life revealed a great chasm; a deep abyss standing between God and man.  If the humanity of Christ is the requisite humanity which God can dwell, then is the race of mankind woefully undone?  If the life of Jesus is the only life that is acceptable to God, then we are horribly lost; no man can measure up to Christ Jesus.  The life of Jesus can never save us.


His spotless humanity must be rent on the cross if man is to be saved.  Someone once said,  “I got into the heart of God through a spear wound”.  That is the teaching of the torn veil:  “And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed out His life.    And the curtain [of the Holy of Holies] of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom”  (Mark 15:37, 38).

When Jesus died, the veil was torn.  A symbolic way; and the way to God is now open!  It required nothing short of the death and blood of God’s Son Jesus.


Jesus didn’t come in human flesh to set us an example, or to teach us of God, or a new system of ethics.  He did all of these things, but the primary purpose of His coming was to offer that body as a sacrifice for the sin of the world.

Hence, when He [Christ] entered into the world, He said, Sacrifices and offerings You have not desired, but instead You have made ready a body for Me [to offer]”  (Hebrews 10:5).

“Let us all come forward and draw near with true (honest and sincere) hearts in unqualified assurance and absolute conviction engendered by faith (by that leaning of the entire human personality on god in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness), having our hearts sprinkled and purified from guilty (evil) conscience and our bodies cleansed with pure water”  (Hebrews 10:22).

With this understanding, we are ready to enter into the Holy of Holies!  “The Ark of Gold and Wood: The Nature, Person and Deeds of Christ”. 

A picture of our journey in the Tabernacle so far:

2 thoughts on ““Torn From Top To Bottom” ; The Tabernacle’s Veil

  1. Loved this Mel. Many years ago when I was a pretty new Christian, the pastor’s wife asked me if I would help her with a Wednesday night children’s group. We found a beautiful model (large) of the tabernacle at a Bible bookstore and piece by piece we built that with the children while teaching about the “types and shadows.” It had the curtains and ropes and everything. I’ll never forget that and wish I still had that model.



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