THE RENDING OF THE VEIL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-17-57 8:15 a.m.
You are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the early morning message entitled The Rending of the Veil. It is a message concerning the death of our Lord as we see it in the Old Testament. This coming Lord’s Day, at this morning hour, we shall speak of the types of the resurrection of Christ. This morning we are speaking, as we have several mornings, of The Types of the Death of Christ, of Calvary.
For example, a few Lord’s Day mornings ago, I spoke of the types of Christ to be seen in things bruised, in things broken, in things that were ground and baked [Isaiah 53:5]. The grain of wheat that falls into the ground and dies and then bears much fruit [John 12:24] is a type of Christ, whose life is lost and buried, but rises to the glorious church, the fruit unto God, that we see today [Romans 8:29; Ephesians 1:23]. And the showbread, which was laid before the Lord, was made in just a certain way, with fine flour, ground [Leviticus 24:5]. Our Lord is that showbread [John 6:51]: He is the fine flour that is ground; the same throughout, beautiful, perfect, fine ground flour: baked without leaven, baked in the furnace, in the fire, in the judgment of God; without leaven, without sin, without blemish, without fault, the perfect Son of God [1 Peter 1:19]. The showbread of which the priests ate [Matthew 12:4]; a type of the Bread of Life for all of His people [John 6:35, 41, 48, 51]. I spoke of that several Sundays ago, you remember.
These things all have a meaning. When we read them, see how much of that Bible, how very, very much of that Bible, is the Old Testament; practically all of it when I hold it in my hand. The New Testament seems just like a conclusion. Well it is. The Old Testament so large, so preemptory of the whole Book, the Old Testament is the New Testament: the difference we are learning is that back there it was in a type, it was in a figure, it was in a symbol, it was in a rite, it was in a ceremony. God kept the truth before the people in something they could dramatically see and share in. That same truth is revealed in the New Testament. Here it is writ large on the page; here it is in the life of our Lord, or there it is in heaven, toward which our hopes have risen and entered into the veil. All of these things are the same things: the revelations of God.
Now this morning we’re going to take the first and the last of the types, which are types of Calvary, of the death of our Lord. Now, you read a passage a moment ago in the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Luke. Twice in that twenty-fourth chapter, there is something that the Lord says to His disciples. Now look at it, in Luke 24:25, “Then Jesus said unto them, O fools.” Now, when you read that, the word “fool” to us has a connotation of inanity, of perverted silliness; well, it doesn’t mean that. The Greek word is a, an alpha privative, like “to know,” gnō, that’s the Greek word, gnō, g-n-o, and a would be an alpha privative. So agnō would be “one who doesn’t know,” an agnostic; we have it in our word. Theos is God; atheos, one who doesn’t believe there is a God, an “atheist.” Well, that’s what this word is, anoētoi, anoētoi: “Then He said unto them, Anoētoi, O ones who do not understand” [Luke 24:25]. He does not mean they’re abberated,
O ones who do not understand, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses . . .
That would be Genesis; Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, “beginning at Moses, and then all the prophets” [Luke 24:27], Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, and clear to Malachi, “He explained unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” [Luke 24:27]. Our Lord Himself turned to the Bible, the Old Testament Scriptures, for the corroborative testimony of His mission from heaven. There He is resurrected, there He is alive before them [Luke 24:13-15], He does not mention it, nor does He refer to it; but He turns to the Old Scriptures for the testimony to substantiate His messiahship; that He is the Son of God and our Savior.
Now in that same chapter, He does the same thing again. In the forty-fourth verse,
And He said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me.
Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures,
And He said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer…
Now, the Jewish people, and if you get a Hebrew Bible today, their Scriptures are divided into those three things: the Torah, the Law of Moses; and the Prophets; and the “sacred writings” as they call them, here they are referred to as the Psalms. Jesus in all three of those, in the Law of Moses, the Pentateuch; in the Prophets, the great central section of the Hebrew Bible; and in the Writings, the Psalms, and Chronicles, and those others that they included under the word “holy writings”; in all of them, Jesus found Himself. Now that’s what we’re going to do this morning, just like the Lord in the Holy Scriptures, said, “There, and there, and there.” We’re going to do that this morning. That’s what we’re doing at these early morning hours.
Now, the first of all of the foreshadowings of the death of our Lord, and of the birth, the life, the growth of the church, is found in the second chapter of the Book of Genesis. The first foreshadowing of the death of our Lord and of His church is found in the second chapter of the Book of Genesis. I read now beginning at the twenty-first verse:
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and God took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;
And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man.
And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
Paul is going to use that passage, and he will make it to refer to this birth of the church. In the twenty-ninth verse of the fifth chapter of Ephesians,
For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
In the thirtieth verse of the fifth chapter of Ephesians [Ephesians 5:30], he quotes the twenty-third verse of this second [chapter] of Genesis: “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” [Genesis 2:23]. He quotes it word for word. Now, the next verse in Ephesians, the thirty-first verse of the fifth chapter of Ephesians [Ephesians 5:31], he quotes the twenty-fourth verse word for word of the second chapter of Genesis: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” [Genesis 2:24]. Then Paul exegetes, he typifies: “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” [Ephesians 5:32]. That is, Paul says that this deep sleep that fell upon Adam, and from his side the creation of the woman [Genesis 2:21-22], he says that that is a mystery, and it pictures the church of Christ taken out of the side of our Lord [Ephesians 5:32].
So we’re going to turn to the second chapter of Genesis and look at that. Paul says, “Here is a deep mystery” [Ephesians 5:32]. By mystery he does not mean that it is something enigmatic or unfathomable; what he means is that here is a great truth hidden away. God knew what it was, but it is just now that we have come to see what it really meant. “This is a mystery,” that is, it is a secret into which these are to know who are initiated into that knowledge. So we’re going to initiate ourselves into the deep knowledge of God this morning, first in this second chapter of the Book of Genesis.
All right, the twenty-first verse: “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam” [Genesis 2:21]. Now Adam, Paul says, is a type of Christ: the first Adam, which is this Adam, the son of God; the second Adam is Jesus Christ the Son of God [1 Corinthians 15:45]. That’s what Paul says; Adam is a type of our Lord. “And God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam” [Genesis 2:21]. That deep sleep is a picture of the death of our Lord [1 Thessalonians 4:13-14]: in a deep sleep.
Now when we look at the deep sleep that came upon our Lord Jesus, there was in that sleep a great riven scar, a great opening in His side [John 19:33-35]. “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam: and He took,” now you have that translated “ribs” [Genesis 2:21]. The Hebrew word is tsela; and the Hebrew word is “side,” like the side of a house, like the side of a barn, like the side of anything. For example, over here in the Book of Exodus, “And thou shalt set the table without the veil, on this side of it, and the candlestick over against the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south; tsela on the side of the tabernacle, tsela of the tabernacle on the south, “And thou shalt put the table of the showbread on the north tsela, on the north side” [Exodus 26:35]. Everywhere else in the Bible it’s translated “side.” The only place in the Bible where that word is translated rib is right there [Genesis 2:21]. There is no other translation in the Bible for rib except right there. Well, whether He took a rib out of his side or not, I do not know, the Bible doesn’t say; that’s all I’m saying. What the Bible says is that when that deep sleep fell upon Adam, “the Lord took from his side and closed up the flesh instead thereof” [Genesis 2:21]. Now if it was a rib, why, maybe so; but the Bible doesn’t say it, that’s all I’m saying; the Bible just says, “God opened his side, and took from his side” [Genesis 2:21].
And, now this is one of the most meaningful verses in the Book. I’m going to read it to you in Hebrew, and we’re going to look at it word by word. Now the English translation: “And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man” [Genesis 2:22]. Now remember, Paul says this is a mystery; that is, it has in it a great secret; he’s speaking concerning Christ and His church; that’s what Paul says [Ephesians 5:32].
All right, now here’s the Hebrew of that: Vaiyiven, the Hebrew word banah means “to build, to construct”; that’s exactly what it means, it doesn’t mean anything else. Banah, this is past tense of it, yiven, banah means “to build a house,” it means “to construct the temple,” or “build a chicken coop,” or anything, “to build.” Vai and yiven, “and He built, He constructed.” Yahweh—where you get the word “Jehovah” is you take the consonants in which Hebrew is written, the vowels were not added in the text until about oh, I’d say nine hundred years after Christ; and by that time the pronunciation of the word “God” had been lost. Nobody knows how to pronounce the Hebrew word for God; it is a lost pronunciation, it is a lost word—so they took the vowel pointing of Adonai and “Lord,” and added it to the consonants of the name of God and got “Jehovah” out of it. But as nearly as anybody could guess, the name of God was “Yahweh”; “Jehovah,” if you put the vowel pointing of Adonai to the consonants. “Vaiyiven, and built, Yahweh, God, Elohim”—we’d say “the Lord God”—“Vaiyiven, and built, Yahweh Elohim, the Lord God, et,” that’s the sign of the accusative, what He built, “ha tsela.” Ha, “the,” tsela, there’s your word “side,” “And He built, the Lord God, the side,” asher, “which” laqach, “He had taken” laqach, “He had taken,” min is just “from”—min ha adam, the Hebrew word for “man,” one Hebrew word for man is adam, adam, min ha adam, “from,” min, from, ha adam, “from the man,” le, “into,” ishah, “a woman.”
So the Hebrew of that is that the Lord God built, constructed—just like you would a temple, it is the exact word and only means that—the Lord God constructed out of this tsela, this side, which they translate “rib” for some reason known to them, but the Hebrew says “the side,” from that side, out of that side, out of that riven side of Adam, the Lord God constructed, built up the woman, ishah. Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Ishah because she was taken out of Man [Genesis 2:23], Ish,” another word for “man” is ish; ishah. And Paul says that that is a speaking of our Lord and the church [Ephesians 5:32]. He says that the church is taken out of the side of the Lord God Jesus Christ our Savior. That’s where the church came from. That’s out of which God built it and is still building it: out of the side of our Lord.
Well, we have here then, in the second chapter of the Book of Genesis, the first foreshadowing of the death of Jesus [Genesis 2:21], of the spear thrust in His side, of the blood and the water that poured forth [John 19:34]; and out of that wound, out of that sorrow, out of that cross, out of that death the Lord God has built His church [1 Corinthians 2:2; Acts 4:11]. “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” [Galatians 6:14]. The washing of our sins [Acts 22:16; 1 Corinthians 6:11], the saving of our souls is in the cross of Jesus [1 Corinthians 1:18; Hebrews 10:39].
In this modern day, they take those songs out of the hymnal; they’re too bloody. “There’s a Fountain Filled with Blood,” that goes out. “What Can Wash Away My Sins,” that goes out. “Nothing But the Blood of Jesus,” that goes out. A bloody theology to the modern, to the liberal; but the Bible says out of that wound and out of that death, out of that sorrow, that suffering, that cross came the church of Jesus Christ [Ephesians 5:30-32]. And it was figured, Paul says, back here in the beginning, in the deep sleep that fell upon Adam [Genesis 2:21], in the scar that the Lord made in his side, and closed up the flesh thereof [Genesis 2:21], and out of that side of Adam built He, constructed He, the church [Ephesians 5:32]. And Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” [Genesis 2:23]. And the Lord says, “We are His body; He is the head. We are members of His body; bone of His bones, and flesh of His flesh. A mystery,” Paul says when he speaks “concerning Christ and the church” [Ephesians 5:30-32]. All right, that’s the first type.
Now the last type in the Bible of the death of our Lord in the Old Testament is the rending of the veil. In the eighth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, the eighth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, the last of it: “In that He saith, A new covenant, in that God says, a new covenant, He hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away” [Hebrews 8:13]. Whoever it was that wrote this Book of the Hebrews lived at a time just before 70 AD. And he says, as he points to the temple, with its sacrifices, its altar, its sanctuary, and the veil between them, he says, that, “This is just ready to vanish away.” Now we know that in 70 AD Titus came with his Roman legions, destroyed the temple, the sacrifices ceased; they have never been begun again. They ceased up until now, forever. Now, he says that all of that is ready to vanish away [Hebrews 8:13]. Then in the ninth chapter there, he names those things: the tabernacle, the candlestick, the showbread, the veil there in the third verse, and the candlestick, and the ark of the covenant, and the cherubim, and the mercy seat, all of that, he says, is ready to vanish away [Hebrews 9:1-5].
Now, in the tenth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, he picks out one of those and refers to it. “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the Holiest 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 having a High Priest over the house of God; Let us draw near,” and so on [Hebrews 10:19-22]. Now the author of the Hebrews there refers to the veil in the tabernacle as being the incarnation, the flesh of our Lord [Hebrews 19:19-22]; and he refers to the rending of the veil as the death of our Lord, through which we have entrance into the Holy of Holies, and unto God Himself [Hebrews 19:19-22]. So now we’re going to look at this last of the Old Testament types; at the rending of the veil [Matthew 27:51].
In the twenty-[sixth] chapter of the Book of Exodus, you have the building, the orders from God for the construction of the veil in the tabernacle. Beginning at the thirty-first verse, the twenty-sixth chapter of Exodus: “And thou shalt make a veil of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work” [Exodus 26:31]—and some of these mornings we’re going to speak of the types of colors and substances and work—“thou shalt make a veil of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubim shall it be made” [Exodus 26:31], the cherubim inwoven in it:
And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver. And thou shalt hang up the veil under the taches—
the modern word would be “clasps” or “fasteners”—
And thou shalt hang up the veil under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the veil the ark of the Testimony: and the veil shall divide unto you between the Holy Place and the Most Holy. And thou shalt put the mercy seat upon the ark of the Testimony in the Most Holy Place. And thou shalt set the table without the veil, this side, and the candlestick over against the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south, this side—
we just got through speaking of that—
And thou shalt put the table of the showbread on the north side.
As you walk in, on the right is the table of the showbread, on the left is the seven branched candlestick, and right in front of you next to the veil on this side of it was the golden altar of incense [Exodus 40:26]. Then you had the veil, which shut out the [Most] Holy Place of God, where the ark of the Testimony was placed, where the mercy seat was placed on that, with the golden crown, with the cherubim covering it, their wings covering it, and their eyes looking full down upon it [Exodus 37:9].
Now that veil, that veil, which is in between, which separated between those who ministered and the Most Holy Place of God [Exodus 26:33], that veil, the author of Hebrews says, has a meaning; it represents something. And the author says, the author of Hebrews, says that it represents the incarnation of our Lord: that veil is His flesh [Hebrews 10:20]. The veil, he says, the flesh, the veil is His flesh. Well, how is that? He means by that that the deity of our Lord, the glory of our Lord was covered over, hidden away by the veil, by the covering of His flesh. That is, when you saw Jesus walk by, you just saw a man walk by. When you saw Him eat, you saw a man eat. When you saw Him lie down because He was tired, it was a man lying down asleep on a pillow. When you saw Him die, it was a man dying. When you saw the blood pour from His heart, it was the blood of a human being; it was a man’s blood. There He was, veiled by His flesh. Our Lord was God. “In the beginning was the Word, God, and the Word was God” [John 1:1]. But the flesh covered it over; it was a veil, it was a covering, it hid away His deity.
The only time that His deity really shown forth was in the transfiguration; there for just a moment you caught the light and the glory of the deity of Jesus [Matthew 17:1-2]. But other than that, His deity, for the most part, was covered away; it was veiled. That’s what this author says: that veil is a type of His flesh, beyond which was the glory of Jesus, the deity of our Lord [Hebrews 6:19-20].
Now, the author says we can never be saved by the veil, by the incarnation of Christ [Romans 5:10]. It is the rending of the veil, the tearing of it apart, that makes it possible for us to enter into the presence of God [Hebrews 10:20]. Now let’s look at that a minute. The covering of our Lord, the veil itself could not bring us to God. That is, the incarnation of Jesus could never save us [Matthew 1:23]; it is the death of Jesus that saves us [Hebrews 10:10]. Had Jesus remained in the flesh, beyond the veil, unto this day, going through the cities of Israel doing good [Acts 10:38], we would still be lost, we would still, we would yet be in our sins [1 Corinthians 15:17]. The veil itself cannot lead us to God. The incarnation of Christ itself cannot save us. The purity of His life, the nobility of His example, all of these things that we read about the Lord Jesus, they themselves could not save us. We are saved only in the rending of the veil [Matthew 27:50-51; Hebrews 10:19-20], in the death of our Lord, by which we have access unto God. “By His stripes we are healed” [Isaiah 53:5]. Our Lord came into this world incarnate in order to save us from our sins [Hebrews 10:4-10]. And the way He saves us from our sins is in the rending of the veil: in the death of His life [Matthew 27:50-51; Romans 5:8-10; Hebrews 10:19-20].
So the veil separates, it covers over, it shuts out. Who among us could ever be like Jesus? His perfect and holy example, His sinless life, we’d still be lost were Jesus just our example, were He in this world still going about doing good. But the Book of the Hebrews says that in the rending of the veil we have an entrance into the [Most] Holy Place [Hebrews 10:19-20]. Now that is very evident. These who ministered, who were shut out, when that veil was torn, when it was rent, these who were shut out could look full into the very presence of the sanctuary of God Himself. Everything in there that was shut away and hidden was open to view, and anybody could enter in, anybody could look full upon it. That’s his argument here [Hebrews 10:19-22]; that we ought to have boldness now to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus: “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.”
Now he says that through that veil, through that rent flesh of our Lord, he says that we ourselves shall enter in, and that our Lord, through that rent veil, Himself has entered in. In the sixth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, he says:
These things were done that we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil:
Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an High Priest for ever
Our Lord Jesus, he says, has entered within the veil—our forerunner [Hebrews 6:20]. And we, all of us are to follow after through the rending of the veil [Hebrews 10:19-22]. Our Lord Himself entered into heaven through death; buried, raised [Matthew 27:32-28:7]; and ascended into heaven [Acts 1:9-10]. He entered into heaven Himself through the veil, through the rending of His flesh [Luke 22:69, 24:51]. And through that same rent veil he says we ourselves are to enter, even where Jesus, our forerunner hath already entered; the torn veil, the rending of the flesh of our Lord, the death of our Savior [Hebrews 10:19-22].
Now before I leave, may I just point out again how careful God is to look after His types, to look after these figures that He built back here in the Old Testament? In the day of the cross, when our Savior was crucified oh what mighty events were transpired! How much was taking place; and yet in the midst of those mighty events, with so many things crowding upon, in the midst of those events, the Lord God, with God’s hand, took hold of that veil and tore it from the top to the bottom [Matthew 27:51].
I read somewhere that that veil was twenty inches thick. I can’t conceive of it. But it was a tremendously heavy thing, and men couldn’t tear it. And were men to tear it, they would do it from the bottom to the top. But in the midst of those tremendous events, the Lord God in heaven reached down and took that veil, and tore it from the top to the bottom, signifying that it was done by God. In other words, the Lord takes care of His types. He was looking upon it, He was thinking about it; and in that awful and tragic hour, He faithfully, faithfully carried through these great mysteries and deep secrets that He had hidden away back there in those Old Testament Scriptures in those types; God seeing it through.
Now I have about one minute left. May I speak of the recurring type of this same thing? Some of these days, when we get to heaven, when we get to the Lord’s feet, and lay our souls and our crowns and our rewards and our love before Him, some of these days, when we get up there into glory, what is it that the Revelation says is the center of the glory of heaven, around whom the angels sang, and before whom, I say, we shall bow and lay our crowns and our love and devotion? The Book of the Revelation says the center of heaven is a Lamb as it had been slain [Revelation 5:6]. When we get up there, we’re going to see face to face, we’re going fully to understand all of these things of the tears and sorrows and sufferings of life. There is our Lord in heaven, the center of heaven; of Him they sing, “Unto Him who loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood” [Revelation 1:5]. Oh, the things that the Lord will reveal! And it will be a Lamb as it had been slain [Revelation 5:6]. That’s our hope of glory.
Now, we have a recurring ordinance that typifies that Lamb as it had been slain, and it is this:
And He took bread, and brake it. This is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me. And He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for the remission of sins—
Take ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come.
[Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:24-26]
In the center of heaven is the Lamb as it had been slain [Revelation 5:6]; and the type of that Crucified Lamb is the broken bread and the fruit of the vine, which we share until we see Him, until He come. All of these are types, they are hopes, they’re revelations, they’re the mysteries of God placed in these ceremonies in order that we might keep them before us always. “In remembrance of Me,” the Lord values our thoughts, that we think of these things, that we keep them in our hearts. “Then they that loved the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it. And the Lord caused a book of remembrance to be written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name” [Malachi 3:16]. These things are precious in God’s sight, that we think upon them and remember them.
Well, let’s sing our song. While we sing this hymn, somebody to give his heart to the Lord, somebody to put his life in the church, while we sing the first stanza, into that aisle or down these stairwells, giving your heart in faith to Christ, or putting your life in the church, while we stand and sing, you come.