“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split,” Matthew 27:51
This veil was the curtain that hung between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. It was sixty feet in length, and reached from floor to ceiling. Note that it wasn’t torn in two from bottom to top as human hands would do it, but from top to bottom as only God could do it.1
Tearing of the Temple Veil
When Christ died, the thick veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place was torn in two from top to bottom. The tearing of the veil signified that access to God was now open to all through the death of Jesus the Messiah; animal sacrifice would no longer be the means of approaching God.2
Tearing of clothing primarily associated with mourning, was an expression of deep sorrow and heartfelt grief. It was also a natural reaction at times of great distress and in cases of sincere repentance.
Dan Juster explains that Christ replaced the Temple system with the new priesthood. This is why when he died, the curtain of the Temple was torn in two (Matt. 27:51). This curtain separated the holy place from the most holy place (Holy of Holies) in the Temple. In the most holy place God maintained a special presence of himself. Only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies once a year on Yom Kippur with the blood of atonement.
Everyone could see through the Temple system that they were separated from God and had to enter God’s holiest presence indirectly through the priest. But Yeshua is the true High Priest who entered the Holy of Holies of heaven. He brought the blood of his own sacrifice. He is now forever at the right hand of God. Therefore, we can, in him, enter into the very Holy of Holies of heaven. The earthly curtain of separation was torn to show that in Yeshua we all might enter into the holiest heavenly presence of God. (These truths are especially taught in Hebrews 4–9.)
This is why we are told to pray to the Father in the Name of Yeshua (John 14:13). The New Testament model of prayer shows us to address our prayer to God the Father. We come in the Name of Yeshua because in him alone we have the privilege and right to come before our heavenly Father. We are righteous in him. (Illustration: I have a brother-in-law whose cousin owned a baseball team. After visiting his city and attending a game, we were privileged to enter the private lounge where the owners, managers, and other prominent people gathered. I was able to enter because I was given a pass with the name of the owner. I had no authority of my own but could enter in the owner’s name.)2
Christ is not only or sacrifice but also our priest. Not only did he enter into the heavenly Temple with the blood of his sacrifice, but also he now is continually interceding on my behalf. Hebrews says, “Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (7:25). Yeshua lifts those prayers up before God, which are led of the Spirit. By his priestly work and because I am in him, I am spiritually able to be present at the heavenly throne of God in prayer.3
Related and Helpful
- The Crucifixion Misunderstood (Wayne Jacobsen)
Frequently Asked Question
Robin, why do your images have notches at the bottom?
I make Memory Dex Cards when I Bible journal. I print them out and place in a Memory Dex Box (shown below, the card is on two small rods) or Rolodex spinner. I also use them to illustrate Bible study lessons and blog posts. You can read about them here.
- Freeman, J. M., & Chadwick, H. J. (1998). Manners & Customs of the Bible (pp. 489–490). North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers.
- Fruchtenbaum, A. G. (1983). The Messianic Bible Study Collection (Vol. 24, p. 22). Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries.
- Juster, D. C. (2011). Growing to Maturity: A Messianic Jewish Discipleship Guide (pp. 48–49). Clarksville, MD: Lederer Books A division of Messianic Jewish Publishers.