The World Beyond the Veil
April 8th, 1977 @ 12:00 PM
THE WORLD BEYOND THE VEIL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-8-77 12:00 p.m.
The theme for this year has been "The Ethereal World," the other world: on Monday, The World Beyond Death; on Tuesday, The World of Satan, of evil; on Wednesday, The World of Angels, God’s guardian spirits; yesterday, The World Beyond the Skies, the home of the soul in heaven; and today, the day of the week in which our Lord was crucified, The World Beyond the Veil.
In the tenth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, there is a concluding argument, a concluding word that the author writes of a section in the book that began with chapter 9. He started his word with, "Verily the first covenant," the Old Testament, "had ordinances of divine service and a worldly sanctuary" [Hebrews 9:1], a sanctuary down here in this earth. "For there was a tabernacle made" [Hebrews 9:2], then he follows through all of the appointments and arrangements of the tabernacle.
Now having spoken through chapter 9 and through chapter 10, then he says:
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the Holiest –
the Holy of Holies –
by the blood of Jesus,
By a new and living way, which He hath consecrated
for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh;
And our having an High Priest over the house of God;
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith. . .
He mentions in that final appeal the veil, which is the flesh of our Lord [Hebrews 10:20]. The tabernacle, which later was solidified in the Solomonic temple in Jerusalem [1 Kings 6:1-38] and which will one day be rebuilt [Ezekiel 40-43]; the tabernacle in the wilderness was a picture book of God’s salvation [Exodus 26]. It was God’s object lesson of sin, and atonement, and forgiveness, and heaven. If God was to speak to us in the language of glory, then He must teach us the nomenclature; we must understand the words of God.
For example, when the Lord would speak of an altar, what is an altar? If the Lord were to speak to us of sacrifice, what is sacrifice? If the Lord is to speak about atonement, what is atonement? If the Lord uses the word expiation, the washing away of our sins, what is expiation? The Lord used the tabernacle to teach us the language of heaven. And the pattern of it, the arrangement of it, the model of it was an object lesson, a picture book, of how we can find approach into the presence of God.
The arrangement of the tabernacle was very simple but very beautiful. It was surrounded by a curtain in which was an outer court. There was an entrance into it called the gate and beyond the gate as you entered into the court there was the brazen altar of sacrifice. Beyond that was the laver where the priests washed their feet and their hands. And then beyond the laver was the sanctuary itself, divided into two parts: the Holy Place, and then the veil separating from the Holy of Holies.
You entered the sanctuary by what they called the door; the gate always is used to refer to the entrance into the outer court; the door, the word always used into the sanctuary itself. And as you entered the Holy Place inside of the curtained sanctuary, to your right was a table of showbread; to your left was the menorah, the seven branched lamp stand; and directly in front of you was the golden altar of prayer and incense standing just before the veil. Then beyond the veil was the cubicle, the Holy of Holies, in which dwelt the Lord God between the cherubim. Inside the Holy of Holies was the ark of the covenant, looked over and looked down upon by two cherubim whose wings touched and whose faces looked full down upon the hilastērion, the mercy seat. All of which was a beautiful way for God to teach us what sin is, what salvation is, and how we may approach into the presence of the great and mighty God.
Now, as I have spoken in the arrangement of the tabernacle, always in a straight line, there is first a gate [Exodus 27:13-16], then there is a door [Exodus 26:36], then there is a veil beyond [Exodus 26:31]. And this is the way that we come into the presence of the Lord: there is a gate, there is a door, there is a veil. As our Lord said, I am he hodos, he alÃªtheias, he zoÃ«; "I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto God, but by Me" [John 14:6]. As there was one door into the ark [Genesis 6:16], so there is one way into the presence of God, the gate, the door, and finally the veil.
Of the things in the tabernacle that speak so beautifully, and so eloquently, and so divinely, of our incarnate Savior, there could hardly be anything in it that speaks more eloquently of the incarnate Christ, and our entrance into the presence of God, than the veil [Hebrews 10:19-20]. The veil separated God from all of the outside world. The outer court separated from the world. The sanctuary separated from the outer court. And the veil separated, even from the priest who himself was a sinner needing atonement – the veil separated between God and all sinful humanity [Leviticus 16:2].
There was a time for just a brief, maybe a few days, when the man had access to God, and they conversed in intimate and precious terms. The Lord visited with the man, and the man, unashamed, visited with God [Genesis 2:15-19]. There was no sin to separate in between [Genesis 2:25]. But when our parents fell [Genesis 3:1-6] they were separated from God and were separated from the garden of Eden [Genesis 3:22-24]. There are those that think that God capriciously threw the man and his wife out of the garden, and could as summarily, peripherally, indifferently take them back in. That is because humanity ofttimes has a slight view, a light view, of the awfulness of the separation of sin. The Lord God separated the man from His holiness, and we have no right to enter into the holy presence of God being sinners, because of the nature of God and the nature of sin.
Sin separates [Isaiah 59:1-2]. It always separates. Sin does nothing ever but separate. Sin will separate between a man and his wife. Sin will separate between parents and their children. Sin will separate between business associates in a corporation or a company. Sin will separate in a government, in political life. Our whole headlines of our papers and all of our lives are experientially introduced to, and shaped by, and sometimes cast down with the awfulness of the separation of sin.
How much more, if sin entering a home will separate between a man and his wife; if sin entering the lives of children, will separate between them and their own fathers and mothers; if sin sometimes will plunge a whole nation into political distress, and if sin sometimes ruins the corporate life of a great company – how much more so does sin separate from the holiness of God? So that veil is a separation between God and the great mass of carnal and lost humanity.
But there is something about the veil that is indescribably dear and precious. Its colors were white, blue, purple, and scarlet, and interwoven from one side of the veil to the other were cherubim [Exodus 26:31]. Now wherever cherubim appear in the Bible, and they appear from the first to the last – wherever the cherubim appear, they are always emblems of God’s mercy and God’s grace, God’s love, God’s invitation, and God’s forgiveness.
The first time we see them is at the gate of the garden of Eden; there to guard the tree of life, lest the man reach forth his hand and partake of the fruit and live forever [Gen 3:22-24]; that is, be confirmed in this body of death forever and ever. Think of the curse of never being able to die, to grow old and senile and blind, and our mind’s gone, and our body’s wasted, and to live forever, confirmed in this house of dust, corruption, and decay. The cherubim: there to guard the tree of life, that we might partake of it in heaven, and to teach the man the way to come back to God.
How did Abel know to bring to God the sacrifice of a lamb, thus to come into the presence of the great High Jehovah? [Genesis 4: 2, 4]. He was taught that by the cherubim. They are always instruments and emblems of God’s love and mercy. So they were interwoven into the veil [Exodus 26:31], which speaks of the love of God extended towards us in Christ Jesus.
That veil was held up by four pillars of acacia wood – over, cast over, covered over with pure gold [Exodus 26-32].. That represents the Four Gospels that hold up and before view, the beautiful body of our Lord and the beautiful life of our Christ, held up by four supporting columns: the veil; our Lord [Hebrews 10:19-20].
And the veil in its four colors: white; white speaks of the purity, the sinlessness of our Lord. Pontius Pilate said, "I find no fault in this Man at all" [John 18:38]. Judas Iscariot said, "I have betrayed the," and that’s the Greek word, "the innocent blood" [Matthew 27:4]. A centurion, seeing Him die, said, "Surely, this Man was the Son of God" [Matthew 27:54]. The apostle wrote, "For God made Him to be sin for us, Him who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him" [2 Corinthians 5:21]. The white speaks of the purity, the perfection, and the sinlessness of His life.
The blue speaks of His descent from heaven. As the Lord, speaking to Nicodemus said, "No one has ascended into heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of God, who is now in heaven" [John 3:13].
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
And the Word was made flesh – came down from heaven –
(And we beheld His grace, the grace as of the glory of the only begotten Son of God). . .
The blue speaks of His heavenly character and descent.
The purple speaks of His royal kingdom. He is a king, and He has a kingdom. When He said to Pontius Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world…else would My servants fight" [John 18:36], and Pilate, the Roman procurator, in astonishment, looked at that humble Man, with His crown of thorns, dressed in a cast-off robe, having been scourged and beaten and covered in blood, Pilate in amazement asked, "Art Thou a king?" And the Lord replied in the strongest affirmation possible in the Greek language, "Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I might bear witness," be King, "of the truth" [John 18:37]. He is a king.
He was born a king. "And there came wise men from the East saying, ‘Where is He that is born a king?’" [Matthew 2:2]. And He died a king. Above His cross was written the superscription of His accusation, "THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS" [Matthew 27:37]. And He is coming back, some day, a king. The nineteenth chapter of the Revelation unveils for us the intervention of God in human history, and it is this:
And I beheld heaven opened, and behold a white horse: and He that sat upon him was Faithful and True…His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns,and He was dressed in a vesture dipped in blood,and on the vesture, and on His thigh, were the words written: KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
He is a coming king.
And the scarlet speaks of His atoning sacrificial death. As the author writes, here in the passage from which I am preaching this day, "Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins" [Hebrews 9:22]. And the scarlet speaks of the crimson of His life, poured out from the cross that we might have forgiveness of sins.
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?
Oh! Precious is the flow
That washes white as snow,
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!
["Nothing But The Blood"; Robert Lowry, 1876]
And last of all, the rending of the veil: the stroke that slew the Lamb of God on the cross was the same stroke that tore the veil in two. Not from the bottom to the top, as though men had done it, but from the top to the bottom, as though the hand of God had done it [Matthew 27:51]. That veil was many, many feet high, as high as to the top of that ceiling. And one of the traditions says that it was so woven as to be four inches thick. God did it. When Christ died, the veil was "rent in twain" and God’s sanctuary was open to view. And men were invited, without a mediator and without a priest, "to come boldly to the throne of grace to find help in time of need" [Hebrews 4:16].
And the author says, "And that veil is the flesh of Jesus our Lord" [Hebrews 10:20]. It is through the sacrifice, it is through the torn veil, it is through the rent veil, the rent curtain, that we have access into the presence of God. As long as that veil is there, we are shut out from coming into the presence of the great Jehovah. That veil represents the life of our Lord; we are not saved by His beautiful and perfect life, it is by His stripes that we are healed [Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24]. And it is by the death, the atoning death of our Lord, that we have access into the very presence of God [Hebrews 10:19-20]. And in the cross of Christ we have forgiveness of sins, atonement for all of our transgressions, and are invited to come boldly to the throne of grace where God is, where God lives, and where God can speak faithfully, personally to us [Hebrews 4:15-16]. Not through any other mediator, but to God Himself, coming through the veil, through the flesh, through the broken body, through the atonement, through the blood of Jesus, into the very presence of the great Jehovah [Hebrews 10:19-20].
In a little town – and how poignant do those memories bring my own relationship to a country doctor – in a little town, the doctor was ministering to a boy, a little fellow who had a fatal and terminal illness. And in the kind providences of God, the little fellow, for a while, was able to be up and to go to church and to Sunday school again, but soon was back in bed and this time not to arise.
The doctor, the country doctor, ministering to the little fellow, knew that he had just hours to live. And as he was there by the side of the little boy, the little fellow said, "Doctor, will I get to go to Sunday school next Sunday?" And the doctor was intrigued by the question of the lad and said, "Why, son, why do you think it’s so important that you go to Sunday school next Sunday?" And the little fellow replied. He said, "Doctor, my Sunday school teacher has been teaching us about the tabernacle, and she has made a pattern and a model for us. And she’s been telling us what all those things mean. And doctor, this coming Sunday, this coming Sunday, my Sunday school teacher is going to take us beyond the veil where God is. And doctor, will I be able to go to Sunday school Sunday; to go beyond the veil to see where God is?"
The family doctor, being a godly man, turned his face away that the boy might not see his tears. And when he turned back to face the lad, he replied, "Son, I am sure this coming Sunday, you’ll be able to go beyond the veil to see where God is."
That’s what Christ has done for us. Shut out from the presence of the Lord, condemned by our sins and transgressions forever – through the veil of His flesh, through the torn, rent body of our Lord, through His atoning sacrifice on the cross – we have access into the presence of God Himself, beyond the veil where God is, through Christ our Lord [Hebrews 10:19-20]. Oh! Bless His name forever.
So our Master, our Lord, our Savior, we have not words to frame them, to bear the weight of the meaning, nor ableness to construct the sentence, to say it, the debt of our gratitude to Thee for dying in our stead [Hebrews 10:5-14, 1 Corinthians 15:3], making atonement for our sins [Romans 5:11]., to open the gate and the door back into the presence of God and thus to see where God is [Revelation 21:3]. O Lord! The hymns of our souls, and the songs of our hearts, and the prayers of our lips, and the work of our hands, and the devotion of our lives are but a small token of the eternal gratitude we offer to Thee for saving us from sin and death [Romans 3:23], and to the eternal life of happiness, and forgiveness, and grace, and "at-one-ment" with Thee, both here and in the world to come.
Now, Master, as we turn our faces to the celebration of Thy glorious resurrection from among the dead [Matthew 28:1-7], which is the earnest and promise of the raising of our own dust from the heart of the earth [Ephesians 1:13-14, Romans 8:11], ah, Master! May every note and syllable, may every prayer and word, may every heart and life be uplifted in praise and gratitude to God, in the Spirit of Jesus, in His love and grace, and in His dear name, amen.
THE WORLD BEYOND THE VEIL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. The tabernacle
A. God’s picture book of salvation
B. Its arrangement simple, beautiful
1. You enter a gate, a door, the veil – in a straight line
2. There is one way to enter the presence of God(John 14:6)
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)
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 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(Luke 23:4, Matthew 27:4, 54, 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, 27:37, 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 10:20)