Monday, July 6, 2015

The End of Sacrifices

Monday, July 6, 2015
Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last.  And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.   Mark 15:37-38(NLT)
When something happens is almost as important as what happens.  At the moment Jesus died on the cross the curtain (veil) of the temple was torn in two.  These two events signify the end of the sacrificial system (Hebrews 10).  Jesus was the “perfect” (complete, ultimate) sacrifice, and therefore no further blood need be shed.

And, of course, Matthew and Mark both indicate the veil was torn from top-to-bottom, unlike William Bell’s painting which shows the split in the other direction.  This is important, because beginning at the top indicates it was done by God…not man.  In this case, it was God who ended the sacrificial system – it wasn’t decided at a general conference of all the religious nitpickers.

A detail about this moment at the cross and temple which I never noticed, is that there was more than one curtain; the veil within the temple screened off the holy of holies, while the outer curtain screened off the courtyard.  Whichever one was torn, it happened at the time of evening sacrifice, the time when it would have been impossible for the priests to have not observed this event; they were preparing the Passover. 

This could have been the outer curtain hung between the sanctuary itself and the forecourt or the inner curtain separating the holy place from the most holy place. If it was the outer curtain, then the tear was a public sign confirming Jesus’ words of judgment on the temple, later fulfilled in a.d. 70.[2]

It would take an awfully huge supply of spiritual blindness for the temple priests to ignore what God did.  As religious professionals, skilled, trained and given a front-row seat to the hand of God tearing down a four ton curtain, they should have been able to connect the dots that the Lord God Jehovah – JHWH was moving in judgment!

But they missed it altogether.

Which gives me pause here in 2015; I’m one of them!  I’ve been trained and have served as a pastor for the last 35 years; I’m in the same seat as the priests.  And there’s a question that comes with my “pause” – Am I connecting the dots?

Do I miss the obvious things God is trying to tell me because I’m caught in the everyday of what I do, the places I go, the people I listen to, and the demands of the urgent?  Am I sufficiently quiet within to hear the still, small voice…that one you never hear in the thunder of life’s storm?

Well…YOU can’t answer that for me, can you?

Neither can I answer it for you.

But you can.

For You Today

Take some time – preferably with your computer turned off – and get real quiet before God.  Ask the Father to show you where you may have missed hearing…and then wait.

If…no, rather when He speaks to your heart, pay attention so you can connect the dots.

I’d love to know what He says to you.

[1] Title image: William Bell Scott [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
[2] The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament, ©1983, SP Publications, Inc. Comments on Mark 15:38

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