Thursday, December 02, 2010

Torn Curtain

Matthew 27:51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.

51 Καὶ ἰδοὺ τὸ καταπέτασμα τοῦ ναοῦ ἐσχίσθη ἀπ᾽ ἄνωθεν ἕως κάτω εἰς δύο καὶ ἡ γῆ ἐσείσθη καὶ αἱ πέτραι ἐσχίσθησαν,

I picked this title because it is also a good Hitchcock movie that is worth seeing, if nothing else because it so perfectly captures how you can get a scientist to give you a secret.  Much more importantly, it represents an incredible truth.  If you have spent any time in the Pentateuch you will know how important the Tabernacle was to the life of the people.  This was then continued with the temple.  It was vitally important to have the curtain to keep the Holy of Holies separate from the people.  Legend has it that when the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies for the annual sacrifice on Yom Kippur they would tie a rope to his ankle in case he made the offering in an unworthy manner and the Lord killed him like He did with Uzzah and the ark or with Nadab and Abihu and their "strange fire."  That's how serious it was.  There was a barrier between the people and God.

But as Christ yielded up His spirit this curtain was torn.  Not only was it torn, but it was torn ἀπ᾽ ἄνωθεν ἕως κάτω.  There was no way that a person could do that.  It had to be God who tore the curtain.  Imagine the violence of the moment.  Anyone who has ever lived through an earthquake knows how unsettling it is.  When rocks start splitting it is extremely serious and terrifying.  All of this happened as Christ yielded up His spirit.

What does this mean for us?  It means that because of Christ's atoning death on the cross we have access to God.  There is no longer a barrier between us and God if we go to the cross.  This would be simply unthinkable to Matthew's Jewish audience, but they could look at the torn curtain for all the proof that they needed.  God gave them a physical illustration of what Christ accomplished on the cross.  I can only imagine the spectacle as Jews went to the temple to get a look at what was in the Holy of Holies.  I know that I would have wanted to see.  That was unimaginable access for them.

And yet we have more than that with God.  What do we do with this?  Do we spend time in earnest prayer enjoying this intimate fellowship?  I don't know about you, but I find that I sadly do not do that as much as I'd like.  Instead, I find myself wasting time on frivolities and trying to entertain myself.  Why do this when we have access to God?  This passage reminds me of the access that we do have.  Let's take advantage of it, amen?

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