“The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” Mark 15:38, Matt. 27:51, Luke 23:45
Two great columns flanked the doors leading from the outer courtyard into the Temple. Inside, there were two thick curtains (veils; that some say were eighteen inches thick), that separated this place from the rest of the Temple. The first curtain separated the entrance of the Temple from the Holy place and the outer court. The second curtain separated the Holy place from the Holy of Holies (or the Most Holy Place; Heb. 9:3), the place where God dwelled among His people. Only the high priest was permitted to go behind that veil and then only one day of the year. The curtains distinguished the “holy” from the “unholy.”
The Latin word for temple is fanum. Everything inside the temple was holy. Everything outside the temple was pro-fanum. (Hence, we get our word “profane.”) The veils represented the unapproachableness of a holy God by an unholy people.
Recorded in the Gospels, the moment Jesus breathed his last breath at his crucifixion, this temple veil was torn from top to bottom. The tearing of the temple veil gives significance that there is no longer a division between the holy and unholy. Now all of life is holy. God’s presence is no longer contained by brick and mortar forged by human hands.
There is now no place where God is not present and available. C. S. Lewis explains, “We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito.” Because of the cross, we have immediate, unfettered, and intimate access to God.
Yet, too often we live our lives (whether we recognize it or not) separating the “holy” from the “unholy.” Going to church is holy; going to work is secular; praying is holy, watching our grandchildren is not; serving at the soup kitchen counts with God; visiting with our neighbor is just being friendly.
Jesus’ death on the cross made it possible to encounter God in the dailiness and ordinariness of life. In fact, it is exactly in these circumstances where He can be found and where He is at work. We dare not devalue the “ordinary” – actually the extraordinary – work of God making Himself at home in our lives.
From now on we can find God’s glory, presence, and purposes on the altar of the commonplace: Building a shed, washing the clothes, and sharing a meal. Wiping up spilled milk becomes a sacred act. I love the book title, “Pacifiers, diapers, and other Holy Things.”
When we begin to live in such a way all lines between secular and holy vanish and we realize that life itself is holy. In other words, holy ground is always what’s under your heel. The wonder of the Christian life is that every moment is alive with the possibility of encountering God in ways we never even imagine.
How does the torn veil—signifying that everywhere is now holy—change the way we look at things in life? Share personal examples.
Can you think of a time in the past seven days when you experienced the ordinariness of God in your life?
How might you live if you knew that every moment is alive with the possibility of encountering God?
All I WANT to do is to please Him. When I succeed at this it brings great joy. When I don’t please Him, I pray to try again with success. It’s in the ordinary times (that’s the majority of time), when we encounter Him and if we’re watching closely, we see Him at work. It’s exciting to know He’s right there in all situations.
He knows your heart! You DO please him. You don’t have to do anything to earn His approval. There is never condemnation. Ever. Only embrace. Rest in that. Read yesterday’s post. 🙂 Blessings, my friend.