The World Beyond the Veil
April 12th, 1968 @ 12:00 PM
THE WORLD BEYOND THE VEIL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-12-68 12:00 noon
And because of this holy day, I have chosen the subject The World Beyond the Veil in the sanctuary of God. In the twenty-seventh chapter of Matthew:
And when Jesus had cried again with a loud voice, He bowed His head and died; He yielded up His spirit.
And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks were rent.
Now in the tenth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, the meaning of that veil and of its parting:
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the Holiest,
into the sanctuary of God, by the blood of Jesus,
By a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us,
through the veil of His flesh.
In the death of Christ, our access to God: the parting, the rending of the veil.
Now we begin with the tabernacle. The tabernacle of the Bible, when it was frozen in stone, it was called the temple. The tabernacle given to Moses, the pattern of it shown him from heaven [Exodus 25:9, 40], the tabernacle was God’s picture book of redemption. The tabernacle was God’s object lesson of sin, and salvation, and heaven. It was built by curtains [Exodus 26:1], with a large outer court [Exodus 27:9-18]. Then inside the outer court there was a tent, a tabernacle [Exodus 26:1-30]; and inside the tabernacle, a Holy Place, and a Most Holy Place [Exodus 26:33]. Had you entered the tabernacle, first through the gate, into the outer court, and there the brazen altar, the altar of sacrifice; then the laver, a large basin for washing, ablutions; then you’d enter the door into the Holy Place, and there you would find the table of showbread and the seven branched lampstand and the golden altar of incense, then the veil, and beyond the veil, the Holy of Holies in which was the ark of the covenant, and the lid of the ark, called the propitiatory, the mercy seat, with two cherubim, with their wings spread meeting and looking full upon the mercy seat, the propitiatory, the meeting place of God and man [Exodus 25:17-22].
Now that tabernacle, every part of it, the pattern of it given from heaven [Exodus 25:9, 40], had tremendous meaning and especially the veil. For the veil separated between God and man. It shielded the holiness of God from the profanity of man [Hebrews 10:19-20]. There was a time in the far off and few days of the garden of Eden, when the man and his wife had converse with God, and they spake and visited with one another as friend with friend [Genesis 3:8-9]. But sin separated; sin always separates. Sin will separate between a man and his wife. Sin will separate between a friend and his friend. Sin will separate between business associates. Sin always separates. And sin separated the man from his God, his Maker [Isaiah 59:2].
Sin is not "sins." We divide "sins" into mortal and venial, big and little sins, white and black ones. But that’s a man’s distinction, for sin is not something we do. Sin is a character of being. "Sins" are the rash from the bloodstream, "sins" is the fruit of the tree – sin is the black drop in every heart; it is the leprosy that finally destroys us. And all of us know the feeling of guilt and unworthiness. Sin shuts out and separates us from God [Isaiah 59:2].
Now, this separation is not arbitrary. There are some who think and say, as though God capriciously threw the man out of the garden of Eden, and that the Lord could as summarily just take him back. Not so, not so! For the Lord God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. As Ezekiel 33:11 avows, "As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked would turn from his evil way and live." It is not caprice; it is not adventitious; it is not summarily that God put the man out of the garden of Eden [Genesis 3:22-24]. It came because of what God is! God cannot look upon sin [Habakkuk 1:13]. God cannot tolerate iniquity. The holy God cannot live with a sinful man. There must be "at-one-ment," there must be atonement, there must be reconciliation, there must be a way of common access. And that way of reconciliation and salvation is pictured in the tabernacle and especially in the veil.
Now the veil itself, that shut out and separated, that covered God and put man beyond, the veil itself was an invitation: mercy and love and forgiveness in the veil, for that veil, beautifully colored as we shall see, had interwoven figures of the cherubim [Exodus 26:31-33]. And wherever the cherubim appear in the Word of God, they are symbols and figures of mercy and invitation and reconciliation. They first appear in the third chapter of the Book of Genesis. There with the flaming sword, they are shielding and keeping the way of the tree of life [Genesis 3:24]. When people read that, so many times they look upon it as though the cherubim with their flaming swords were shutting men out. No, they were guarding the tree of life, lest a man eat thereof and live forever [Genesis 3:22], confirmed in this body of sin and disease and death. My friend and brother, there’ll come a time in your life, if you live long enough, when blind and diseased and in an agony you will pray to be released from this bondage of death. Death is a blessing; it’s a release that God might give us our home from heaven, our tabernacle made without hands [2 Corinthians 5:1]. And the cherubim are symbols, figures of love and mercy from God.
Now, in the tabernacle there were three series of curtains [Exodus 26:1-37]. The outer court protected the holiness of God from the world beyond. And the Holy Place protected the holiness of God from the outer court. And the veil protected the holiness of God even [in] the Most Holy Place. But all three of them were broken, there were apertures, there were entrances, all three of them. The entrance into the court was called the gate, into the Holy Place was called the door, and into the Holy of Holies it was called the veil [Exodus 26:31-33]. And those three were in a straight line, one, two, three; and all three of them were covered with a curtain that was identical; it was made of white, blue, purple, and scarlet, fine twined linen, and interwoven the figures of the cherubim [Exodus 26:1]. And you entered the gate, one gate, entered the door, one door, entered the Holy of Holies, one veil. The whole Bible presents the way of salvation like that: there are not two Gods, there is one; there are not two Saviors, there is one; there are not two Calvary’s, there is one; there are not two ways to be saved, there is one. As there was one door into the ark [Genesis 6:16], so there is one way to God, one way to heaven. And we enter it through that one way. That tri-fold presentation of Christ is presented in His own words, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" [John 14:6]. The gate, the door, the veil, he hodos, the way, not "a way"; he aletheia, the truth, not "a truth"; he zoe, the life, not "a life." We come to God through Christ [John 14:6; Acts 4:12].
Now, especially and significantly and particularly is that marvelous way of salvation presented in the veil; all the rest full of symbolic meaning, but especially and marvelously that veil. It was held up by four columns, four pillars [Exodus 26:31-32], made of acacia wood, covered over with pure gold; a symbol of the four Gospels that hold up before us in full view the sublime and incomparable life of our Lord. And the veil was colored. It was first partly white [Exodus 26:31], signifying the sinlessness and the perfection of our Lord. Pilate said, "I find no fault in Him" [John 19:4]. Judas who betrayed Him [Matthew 26:14-16], said, "I have betrayed the innocent blood" [Matthew 27:4]. And the centurion who presided in His crucifixion said, "Truly, truly, this Man was the Son of God" [Mark 15:39]. All of the apostles emphasized the sinlessness and the purity of the Son of God. As Paul wrote, "God made Him to be sin for us, Him who knew no sin; that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" [2 Corinthians 5:21]. The veil was white – the purity of our Lord [Exodus 26:31].
It was blue [Exodus 26:31]; and blue speaks of the heavenliness and the origin of our Lord, the abode and place from whence He came. Blue, the color of God’s heaven:
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,
and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,
full of grace and truth.
For the Son of Man came down from heaven [John 6:38], our heavenly guest and visitor, the stranger from afar, from the courts of glory-blue.
The veil was also purple [Exodus 26:31]; and purple speaks of royalty and of a kingdom. He is a King, and He has a kingdom. Pilate in amazement asked Him, as He was thorn-crowned and with a cast off purple robe, "A king art Thou? A king?" And our Lord said, "Thou sayest I am a king" [John 18:37]; the most emphatic way that the Greek language can make an affirmation, "I am" [Mark 14:62]. He was born a king. And the wise men came and said, "Where is He that is born King of the Jews?" [Matthew 2:1-2]. And He died a King! In Greek, in Latin, and in Hebrew, the superscription was written above His cross, "THIS IS JESUS THE KING" [Luke 23:38].
And the color was also scarlet [Exodus 26:31], deep blood red, which spoke of His atonement and His sacrifice for our sins [Romans 5:11; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 1:14; Hebrews 2:17]:
Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
["Are You Washed in the Blood of the Lamb?", Elijah A Hoffman]
O precious is the flow,
That makes me white as snow,
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
["Nothing But the Blood," Robert Lowry, 1876]
It was white, it was blue, it was purple, it was scarlet – and it was rent in twain from the bottom to the top, as though it were pulled apart by man’s hands? No! It was torn asunder from the top to the bottom [Matthew 27:51], as though by the hands of God. The same stroke that slew the Lamb of sacrifice on the cross rent the veil in twain. And that, says the author to the Hebrews, is our access and our way to God: through the rent veil of the temple, through the rent veil of the incarnate Christ, through the sacrifice of the Lamb of God we have boldness to enter into the very throne room of the Almighty [Hebrews 10:19-20]. That silent symbol of the incarnation, of the Word made flesh, of God dwelling among us [John 1:14] – as long as it hung there it was a separation, a barrier, a wall between us and God [Hebrews 10:19-20].
However beautiful and perfect the life of our Lord, still are we shut out from heaven. For the perfection and the beauty of the life of our Savior could never deliver us from sins. Not by His beautiful life, but by His stripes we are healed [Isaiah 53:5]. Not by the perfection, though the lamb is to be without blemish, but by the atoning blood, by the pouring out of His life unto death do we find pardon and forgiveness and access to heaven [Romans 3:25, Ephesians 1:7]. And in the tearing apart of the veil, the sanctuary of God is opened to men in full view [Matthew 27:51; Hebrews 10:19-20]. No need of a mediator, no need of a priest, no need of an intercessor; every man, you, can come to God for himself. Every man in Christ can speak to the Almighty for himself. Sometimes in stumbling words, sometimes with stammering lips, but all of us can come to God for himself. The sanctuary is open; the rent veil has presented in full view the throne and the presence of God our Maker. Ah, and to think that a man who is a sinner can see God and live – think of it!
A little boy was afflicted with a malady unto death, like leukemia. Oh, there is nothing that ever tears my heart as when the doctor says to a father or a mother, "Your little boy has leukemia." It sounds like the tolling of a bell, the sentence of death. The little lad afflicted with such a terrible malady, and as so many times in the story of a disease, the little fellow gained strength enough to go back to Sunday school for a few Sundays, then back, sick again. And as the doctor sat by the side of the bed, the little fellow turned to the physician and said, "Doctor, will I be able to go to Sunday school next Sunday?" And the doctor, surprised, said, "Why, son, why is it so important that you attend Sunday school this coming Sunday?" And the little fellow replied, he said, "Oh sir, my Sunday school teacher has been teaching us the tabernacle. And this coming Sunday she said that she would take us beyond the veil to see God." And the doctor, knowing the lad didn’t understand the nature of his disease, turned his head away, that the boy might not see his tears; then facing the little fellow, said, "Son, I am sure that this coming Sunday you will be able to go beyond the veil and see God."
This is what Christ has done for us. "Our iniquities have separated between Him and us, and our sins have covered His face that He does not hear us" [Isaiah 59:2]. There is a veil that separates between us and heaven, between us and God. But in the atoning death of Christ, in the sacrifice of our Lord, that veil is torn apart [Matthew 27:32-51]. And in Him we have entrance into life everlasting, now and in the world that is to come; since He rent the veil in two [Matthew 27:51].
Ah, blessed Lord, may every day be a holy day for us; a day of praise and gratitude and singing and rejoicing. For God in Christ hath forgiven us our sins; and in His blood, in His sobs and tears, in His cross, in the pouring out of His life, we have access to Thee, open, boldly to come, freely welcome, loved and forgiven [Hebrews 10:19-22]. O blessed God, we praise Thee forever, in the love and mercy of Jesus and in His precious name, amen.
THE WORLD BEYOND THE VEIL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Hebrews 10:19-22, Matthew 27:50-51
I. The tabernacle
A. God’s picture book of redemption
B. Every part had meaning
II. The veil
A. Teaches us that separation from God is the consequence of sin
1. For a brief time, the man in Eden had uninterrupted converse with God
a. When sin entered, the man was expulsed (Genesis 3:1-24, Isaiah 59:2)
2. That separation not arbitrary (Habakkuk 1:13, Ezekiel 33:11)
B. The weaving of cherubim into the veil (Exodus 26:31-33)
1. Cherubim emblems of God’s grace, forgiveness, mercy (Genesis 3:22, 24, 1 Corinthians 15:44, 50, 2 Corinthians 5:1, Revelation 21:4)
III. The three series of curtains
A. All three had entrances – the gate of the court, the door of the tabernacle, the veil of the Holy of Holies
1. All three in a straight line
2. One way to God(Genesis 6:16, John 14:6)
IV. The veil speaks of Christ
A. Held up by four pillars of acacia wood, covered with pure gold
1. Represents the four Gospels
B. The colors
1. White – the purity and sinlessness of our Lord(John 19:4, Luke 23:4, Matthew 27:4, 54, Mark 15:39,2 Corinthians 5:21)
2. Blue – speaks of His descent from heaven (John 1:1-14, 3:13)
3. Purple – speaks of His royal kingdom (John 18:36-37, Matthew 2:1-2, 27:11, 37, Revelation 19:11-16)
4. Scarlet – speaks of His atoning death (Hebrews 9:22)
C. The rending of the veil – from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51)
1. We have access to the presence of God(Hebrews 4:16)
2. A figure, type of the flesh of Christ(Hebrews 10:19-20)
3. Not by His beautiful life, but by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5)