The Veil Between
October 11th, 1959 @ 7:30 PM
THE VEIL IN BETWEEN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
10-11-59 7:30 p.m.
Would you like to turn with me to Exodus 26? Exodus chapter 26, beginning at the thirty-first verse, reading to the end of the chapter. You have a word there in the thirty-third [verse] that is archaic, "tache, taches"; it’s a fastener, a clip. Exodus 26, Exodus chapter 26. In the ninth chapter of the Book of Hebrews the author speaks of the separate furnishings of the tabernacle, and he uses them as a picture book of the salvation we have in the grace of Christ. And we have been speaking of those separate furnishings that he names. And tonight we speak of The Veil In Between. Exodus 26, the thirty-first verse. Now let us read it together. Exodus 26:31, together:
And thou shalt make a veil of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubim shall it be made:
And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood 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, 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, and the candlestick over against the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south: and thou shalt put the table on the north side.
And thou shalt make a hanging for the door of the tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework.
And thou shalt make for the hanging five pillars of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, and their hooks shall be of gold: and thou shalt cast five sockets of brass for them.
The purpose of a curtain is to conceal, it’s to hide, it’s to shelter. That is the purpose of the curtain that made the tabernacle: they were for the purpose of hiding, of concealing, of sheltering the holiness of God from the profanity of men. The great curtain of the court separated the court from the outside world. The curtain of the tabernacle itself separated the tabernacle from the court. And the curtain of the veil separated the inner sanctuary from the Holy Place. The tabernacle is a picture book of God, teaching us of sin, and salvation, and atonement. It is in symbol form to show us how it is that a sinful man can approach a righteous and holy God. Now, the purpose of the curtain, of the veil, was to teach us that sin separates us from God.
For a very few brief days, the man in the garden of Eden had uninterrupted converse with the Almighty. They visited together in the cool of the eventide [Genesis 3:8]. And they spake face to face and heart to heart. But when sin entered [Genesis 3:1-6], the man was expulsed, and there was a separation between God and man [Genesis 3:22-24]. Sin separates [Isaiah 59:1-2]. The expulsion of our first parents from the garden of Eden was because a sinful man cannot stand in the presence of God [Psalms 1:5]. When the man sins, he is therein and thereby shut out from God. Any man that thinks that he can walk into the presence of God laden with his sins does not know the character of the Almighty. We divide sin into mortal and venial; these are great and black sins, these are forgivable and peccadillo sins: God does not look upon us like that. Sin is not so much doing as being. Sin is not a rash on the skin; it is the pollution of the blood stream of the heart. We are sinners [Romans 3:23]. There is the black drop in every blood stream. There is the element of depravity in every faculty. We are a lost and an undone people. And that sin separates us from God. "We are born in sin, and conceived in iniquity" [Psalm 51:5]; and as such, we are shut out from the presence of God [Isaiah 59:1-2]. That is the teaching of the veil, of the curtain, that separates in between [Exodus 26:33].
Now there are some who think that God summarily and capriciously and facetiously flung the man out of the garden of Eden, and that He could as summarily receive him back into His presence. That is a caricature of God. The sin that came into the man’s life separated between him and God. Sin is what it is; God is what He is; and "God cannot look upon iniquity" [Habakkuk 1:13]. The Holy One of heaven cannot endure sin and the sinner; there has to be something done to provide a way for a sinner man to approach God. The Lord is not hard and unmerciful. "As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his evil way and live: oh turn ye, turn ye, from your evil ways; for why will ye die?" [Ezekiel 33:11]. It is the heart of God, the grace and mercy of God, to bring the man back into communion with heaven. But something has to be done for a sinful man to stand in the presence of the Almighty; for sin separates between God and man [Isaiah 59:1-2].
Now, you get a beautiful intimation of the grace and mercy of God in the weaving of the cherubim in that veil [Exodus 26:31-33]. A cherub in the Bible is a symbol. And in heaven, they are created angelic beings who are pictures of, and who give themselves to ministries of mercy and grace and forgiveness. Wherever in the Bible the cherubim are mentioned, wherever they are placed, wherever they are introduced, they are without exception ministers of grace and of forgiveness and of mercy. The first time they appear in the Bible is in the third chapter of the Book of Genesis. There they are set to guard the way of the tree of life, "Lest," the Scriptures say, "the man eat of the tree of life, and live forever" [Genesis 3:22]. That is, had the man partaken of the tree of life after he had sinned, he would have been confirmed in that body of death forever. Can you imagine living in this house of clay forever and forever with its illness, and its age, and its senility, and all of the hurts and cares and sorrows that afflict us in this life? Had the man partaken of the tree of life in his sin, he would have been confirmed in that body of death forever; he would have lived forever in his iniquity, in his sin, in his disease, in his age, in his senility; he would never have died. But God in His mercy placed around the tree of life the cherubim, to guard it with a flaming sword [Genesis 3:24]. And it was an act of mercy, lest the man be confirmed in this body of death forever. Death to the child of God is not a vicious and a horrible and an evil thing; "Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption" [1 Corinthians 15:50], but death is a merciful provision of God whereby this body might be planted in the ground and die, that it might be raised a spiritual body in the likeness of the body of Christ [1 Corinthians 15:44; 1 John 3:2]. We tremble before death; its visage is strange and terrible and frightful. But in Christ, God hath wrought for us some gracious and merciful thing, that we might live in a new body, a new house from heaven, made without hands [2 Corinthians 5:1], knowing no age, knowing no disease, knowing no illness, knowing neither sorrow nor pain [Revelation 21:4]. That is a grace of God, a mercy of God. And those cherubim which guarded the tree of life in the garden of Eden [Genesis 3:24], are the cherubim whose picture, whose likeness is inwoven in the veil that separates God from man [Exodus 26:31-33]. So I know from that that the provision that God has made in that veil is somehow one of goodness and grace and mercy.
Now in the building, in the formation of the tabernacle, there were three entrances, there were three curtains. There was an entrance into the court; there was an entrance into the tabernacle itself; and there was an entrance into the Holy of Holies. All three of those entrances were covered with a veil, a curtain. And all three of those curtains were exactly alike. Many, many times, I think something like fifty or sixty times in the Book of Exodus alone, those colors and the makings of those curtains are repeated; and it is always in the same order and in the same language: it is blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen; every time, and always in that order. And those three entrances, in a straight line, the entrance into the court was veiled with a curtain of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, and inwoven, embroidered with cherubim [Exodus 27:16]. Then the entrance into the tabernacle itself was made, was veiled, with a curtain of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, and embroidered with cherubim [Exodus 27:36]. Then the entrance into the Holy of Holies, the sanctuary itself, was again a like curtain of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen [Exodus 26:31-33]. There were three entrances: the gate into the court, the door into the tabernacle, and the veil into the Holy of Holies, all three of them in a line. There was one entrance into the court, through the gate [Exodus 27:16]; there was one entrance into the tabernacle itself, through the door [Exodus 26:36]; and there was one entrance into the Holy of Holies, through the veil [Exodus 26:33]. There is one entrance into the presence of God, as there was one door in the ark [Genesis 6:16], and as Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me" [John 14:6]. If a man enters into the presence of God, he must come through the gate, through the door, through the veil; and so into the presence of our Lord. But he must come, he must enter, he must take that step.
"He is able to save to the uttermost, them who come unto God by Him" [Hebrews 7:25]. But you must come, you must enter. "I am the living bread that came down from God out of heaven: which if a man eateth, he may live forever" [John 6:51]. But you must eat. "Let him that is athirst come unto Me and drink" [John 7:37]. But you must drink [John 4:14]. There is one way to God: through the gate, through the door, through the veil; but you must come, you must come for yourself [John 14:6]. Your mother cannot for you, your father cannot, you must believe for yourself. You must take that step for yourself. You must come for yourself. There is one way, one entrance; and that is through Christ our Lord [Acts 4:12, 1 Timothy 2:5].
Now, that veil speaks especially and particularly of Jesus, and especially out of all of the symbolism of the tabernacle, especially is the veil presented in the Word of God as a picture of the incarnation of Christ. "And thou shalt make a veil of blue" [Exodus 26:31-33, 36, 27:16] blue, that is the heavenly color, blue. In the twenty-fourth chapter of the Book of Exodus, "They saw God and did live, and underneath His feet," the Scriptures say, "was a paving as though it were a sapphire stone, a blue sapphire" [Exodus 24:9-11]. Blue is the color of heaven. Blue is His color. He said in the third chapter of John that He came from God out of heaven [John 3:13]. He said, "I am the bread from heaven" [John 6:41]. At His birth the heavenly celestial choir sang at His nativity [Luke 2:13-14]. Blue is the color of heaven. In the third chapter of Philippians, in the twentieth verse, Paul says, "For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence we look for the Savior" [Philippians 3:20]. And in the Book of Numbers, God told all of His people that on the fringes of their garments they were to wear a fringe of blue [Numbers 15:38]. That is, they were pilgrims, and strangers in this earth; their home was in heaven. Blue is the heavenly color, and it speaks of Jesus and our heavenly home.
"Thou shalt make a veil of blue, and purple," [Exodus 26:31, 33, 36, 27:16], Purple is a color of royalty; it is the color of the king. Purple. Then He is a king. When Pilate asked Him, "Art Thou a king then," He replied, "Thou sayest," which is the strongest affirmation in the Greek language, "Thou sayest I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world" [John 18:37]. His color is purple. Then He is a king. "Have mercy upon me, Thou Son of David," cried Bartimeus [Mark 10:47]. "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom" [Luke 23:42]; he had seen the purple. "Rabboni" [John 20:16], cried Mary of Magdalene; she had seen the purple. "My Lord and my God," cried Thomas [John 20:28]; he had seen the purple. John 1:14, "And the Word was made flesh, and tabernacled among us; and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father"; he had seen the purple. He is a King, and He has an enduring and everlasting kingdom. His color is purple.
"And thou shalt make a veil of blue, and purple, and scarlet," [Exodus 26:31, 33, 36, 27:16]. His color is scarlet. It is dyed blood red. "And I saw heaven opened, and behold, One true and righteous; His eyes were as a flame of fire, on His head were many crowns, and He was dressed in a vesture dipped in blood; and His name is called The Word of God" [Revelation 19:11-13]. Then His color is scarlet; it is red, blood red from the sufferings of His cross [Matthew 27:32-50; John 19:28-34]. Scarlet. "Come, saith the Lord, let us reason together: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" [Isaiah 1:18]. His color then is scarlet: His sufferings.
"Thou shalt make a veil of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and fine twined linen" [Exodus 26:31, 33, 36, 27:16] beautifully, perfectly, dazzlingly white; the purity of the life and character of our Lord, fine twined linen, clean and white. "Behold," said the author of the Hebrews, "our High Priest is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners [Hebrews 7:26]. Which of you," He said, "convinceth Me of sin?" [John 8:46]. Pilate tried Him and said, "I find no fault in this Man" [Luke 23:4]. Judas returned with his thirty pieces of betrayal money [Matthew 26:14-16], and said, "I have betrayed innocent blood" [Matthew 27:4]. The centurion who crucified Him said, "Truly this Man was the Son of God" [Matthew 27:54]. The apostle John, who lived with Him for three years, said, "And in Him is no sin" [1 John 3:5]. And the apostle Peter, who ministered by His side all the three and a half years of His days of the [ministry], spake of Him, "Who did no sin, neither was found guile in His mouth: Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously" [1 Peter 2:22-23] – the veil, made of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and fine twined linen, clean and white [Exodus 26:31, 33, 36, 27:16]. To the church at Sardis, Jesus promised they should be arrayed in white [Revelation 3:4]. And in the nineteenth chapter of the Revelation, there is unveiled the bride of Christ: "And to her was granted that she should be dressed in linen, clean and white; for the whiteness of the linen is the righteousness of the saint" [Revelation 19:8], the blood-washed people of God [Revelation 1:5]. So the veil is of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and fine twine linen, "with cunning work, cherubim embroidered thereon" [Exodus 26:31, 33, 36, 27:16], all of it the Bible says, a picture of the incarnation of the Son of God. This is the earthly, fleshly life of our Lord, this veil, so beautifully wrought and hanging between us and God [Hebrews 10:20].
Now that curtain which shut out the worshipper from the immediate presence of heaven [1 Kings 6:21], that veil in the days of our Lord was a tremendously strong woven fabric. Josephus says it was four inches thick, and so strongly woven, he says, that wild horses tied on either end would not be able to rend that mighty veil. That curtain, hanging up between a sinful man and the presence of God, represents the incarnate life of our Lord, beautifully wrought, with the colors of heaven: blue, and purple, and scarlet, and the white of fine twined linen [Exodus 26:31-33]. In the tenth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, in the nineteenth and twentieth verses, the author there speaks of that veil as being a type, a picture of the life of our Lord [Hebrews 10:19-20]. And the sinful man comes, and he stands before that veil; it shuts him out from God, a beautiful veil, beautifully colored, beautifully wrought, wonderfully inwrought and embroidered with cunning work, but it separates the man from God [Leviticus 16:2]. And the author of the Hebrews uses that as a type of what the life of Christ does for us in the beauty and the holiness and the purity of the life of our Lord [Hebrews 10:20]. There is the life of Jesus, and we stand before it, beautiful, holy, holy, undefiled, without spot, without blemish [1 Peter 1:19, 2:22], separate from us; and we can admire it forever, and look upon it forever, but it is the despair of a lost sinner. How could a man ever measure up to the life and the example of Jesus our Lord? Our very lips are unclean [Isaiah 6:5], the imaginations of our hearts are not right [Jeremiah 17:9]; the desires of our souls are not perfect [James 1:14-15]. We live in a world of sin [1 John 2:16], and we belong to a generation of iniquity [Ephesians 2:3]. Our fathers died before us, and the sentence of death is in us [Romans 5:12]. And when we stand before the beautiful life of Christ, it is nothing but to despair; a lost sinner looking at the perfect life of Jesus. Who could be saved by the example of our Lord? No man could ever measure up. Every time we compare ourselves by Him, it is but to testify again the lack and the shortcoming of our lives [Romans 3:23]. The beautiful perfect life of Jesus is a veil between us and God [Hebrews 10:20]. We could never be saved by the holy character of our Lord; we can look upon it, we can admire it, we can speak of it, we can compare ourselves to it, but we could never be saved by it. The holy example of Jesus is a despair to a true and honest man who might think that he might live the perfect and beautiful life of our Lord.
So the author of the Hebrews says that in the veil, in itself, it hung there in the tabernacle, shutting out the man from God [Hebrews 10:20]. But God did something. The stroke that slew the Lamb rent the veil in twain [Matthew 27:45-51]. And it was torn not from bottom to top, as though a man had done it, if he could; but it was torn from the top to the bottom, as by the mighty invisible hand of the Almighty [Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38]. And when God rent the veil, He did it simultaneously in the death of our Lord [Matthew 27:50-51; Mark 15:37-38]. And the author of the Hebrews says that through that rent veil, that is, through the flesh torn asunder of our Master, we can draw near with a heart full of assurance into the very presence of God Himself [Hebrews 10:19-20]. And the author of the Hebrews says that the rending of the veil that opened to view the sanctuary of God Himself is to us in the death of Christ, in the tearing of the body of our Lord, the opening of the sanctuary of heaven, and through the sacrifice of our Master, through the atonement of Jesus, through the death of our Lord, we have immediate access into the very presence of God Himself. No longer any veil in between, it’s been torn, it’s been taken away, it’s been swept apart, it’s been cast aside, and now into the very Holy of Holies, one may come and approach God for himself [Hebrews 10:19-22]. Don’t need a mediator of men, don’t need a priest, don’t need a priestly cap; through the death, and grace, and atonement, and sacrifice of Jesus, we have access into the Holy of Holies for our self; and every man can come, and welcome. Whoever you are, you can approach God for yourself, through the rent veil, the flesh, the death, the sacrifice of the Son of God [Hebrews 10:19-22]. There’s no longer any barrier in between; it has been taken away, it has been brushed aside, it has been torn asunder, it has been rent in two, which the author here says is the sacrifice of the Son of God for us. And when He died, at the moment that He bowed His head and gave up the ghost and was dead, at that moment, God took the veil and rent it in twain [Matthew 27:50-51; Mark 15:37-33; John 19:30]. And when Jesus died and the veil was cast aside, from that day until the triumphant day when He comes again [1 Thessalonians 4:15-16], we stand in repentance and in faith in the presence of God for ourselves [Ephesians 2:18]. Just to come, just to enter, just to approach, not pleading our merit and our worth and our virtue, but pleading the mercy and grace and goodness of God who rent the veil in twain [Ephesians 2:4-9].
We’re saved in the cross of the Son of God [1 Corinthians 1:18], and our approach to heaven is made in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus our Lord [Romans 5:11]. And the Lord taught us that in the picture book of salvation, when He tore the veil in twain and let the worshipper come directly into the presence of God in heaven [Hebrews 10:19-22]. And that is the appeal, and that is the message that we preach in these services in the church. There’s nothing between a man and God now, just come. There’s no curtain in between, there’s no veil shutting out; just step into the presence of God [Ephesians 2:6]. He is there where you sit tonight. He will be there in the room where you lie down tonight. He will be with you in the work of the morrow. Just close your eyes and put your hand in His. Just close your eyes, and there He is, to speak to, to talk to, to ask of. Wherever you are, there God is open unto you. In the name of Jesus, in the sacrifice of our Lord, no longer veiled away, no longer concealed, no longer shut out, but an open door with God’s merciful invitation, come, come, come. Any one can call on the name of the Lord: "And whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" [Romans 10:13]. Anybody can pray for himself. And when we pray, God hears. Any man can come boldly into the presence of God [Hebrews 4:14-16], pleading the grace and mercy of Jesus our Lord; no veil in between, just come, come, come.
In this balcony round, while we sing this song, somebody you, give his heart to the Lord, would you come? In this lower floor, a family you, putting your life with us in the fellowship of the church, however God shall say the word and open the way, would you come? This is God’s hour and God’s service and God’s invitation. As the Lord shall speak the word and open the door, would you come? In the balcony, down one of these stairwells; on this lower floor, into the aisle and to the pastor. "Here I am, pastor, tonight, by faith and trust in Jesus, I give my heart to Him." Or, "Here we are, coming into the fellowship of the church, a family." Would you make it now? Prayerfully, earnestly, while we sing, on the first note of the first stanza, would you come? While we stand and while we sing.
THE VEIL IN BETWEEN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Hebrews 9, Exodus 26:31-37
I. The tabernacle God’s picture book of salvation
A. Purpose of the curtain to hide, separate the holiness of God from the profanity of men
B. The veil teaches us that sin separates us from God
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. There is the element of depravity in every faculty (Psalm 51:5)
C. That separation not arbitrary(Habakkuk 1:13, Ezekiel 33:11)
D. Something has to be done for sinful man to stand in the presence of God
II. The teaching of the tabernacle
A. The weaving of cherubim into the veil(Exodus 26:31-33)
1. Cherubim always presented asministers of grace, forgiveness, mercy(Genesis 3:22, 24, 1 Corinthians 15:44, 50, 2 Corinthians 5:1, Revelation 21:4)
B. The three entrances – into the court, the tabernacle, the Holy of Holies
1. All three alike; in a straight line
2. There is one entrance into presence of God(John 14:6)
C. You must enter through the veil(Hebrews 7:25, John 6:51, Revelation 22:17)
III. The veil speaks of Christ
A. The colors
1. Blue – the color of heaven(Exodus 24:10, John 3:13, 6:41, Luke 2:13-14, Philippians 3:20, Numbers 15:38)
2. Purple – color of royalty(Exodus 26:31, John 1:14, 18:37, 20:16, 28, Mark 10:47, Luke 23:42)
3. Scarlet – blood red(Revelation 19:11-13, Isaiah 1:18)
4. White – purity, without sin(Hebrews 7:26, John 8:46, Luke 23:4, Matthew 27:4, 54, 1 John 3:5, 1 Peter 2:22-23, Revelation 3:4, 19:8)
B. Tremendously strong woven fabric – Josephus says four inches thick
C. Represents the incarnate life of our Lord(Hebrews 10:19-20)
1. Torn from top to bottom simultaneously in the death of Jesus(Mark 15:38, Matthew 27:51, John 19:30)
2. No longer any veil in between – we have access into the Holy of Holies through the death and atonement of Jesus(Hebrews 10:19-22, Romans 10:13)