An Earthly Picture of Heaven’s Reality

The One Year Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), November 4

“. . . And the veil of the temple was torn in two” (Lk. 23:45). That which symbolizes man’s separation from God has been torn in two by Christ’s death.

Expulsion from the garden of Eden pictured separation. Because of man’s disobedience to God’s instruction regarding the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, God would no longer walk with man in the cool of the day. The announcement of the coming Seed who would crush the head of the serpent, however, promised that the separation between God and man would not last forever.

God’s promise to Abraham regarding a nation and a king who would be a blessing to all the families of the earth revealed God’s commitment to His promise. His promise to Judah, that Shiloh would proceed from between his feet (Gen. 49:10), demonstrated His redemptive activity through promises made to past generations.

The revelation to Moses of the Passover and the Tent of Meeting, with its curtain separating the Most Holy Place from all else, pictured the separation between Holy God and sinful man. The Passover Lamb and the blood sprinkled on the mercy seat—the lid of the ark of the covenant—pictured the substitutionary work of the Coming Seed. The promise of a prophet like Moses also connected the redemptive promises of the past to a future fulfillment.

Solomon’s temple, built according to the same design as the Tent of Meeting, was a more permanent structure. Its destruction by the Babylonians revealed the limitations of earthly tabernacles. Its rebuilding by the exiles revealed God’s commitment to His redemptive promises. The glory of God that Ezekiel witnessed departing from the temple, however, did not re-enter the temple at the time of its rebuilding.

All the Old Testament pictures pointed to heavenly reality, when God would take on human flesh and “tabernacle” with us. Jesus fulfilled every Old Testament promise of redemption and picture of redemption when His body was broken and His blood poured out for man. The tearing of the Temple curtain at Christ’s death shouts that separation between God and man is finished. Sin has been atoned for. Man can enter God’s presence through the substitutionary death of Christ.

The Apostle Paul encountered the risen Christ and declared, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:1-2). “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (8:35). “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (8:38-39).

The torn curtain in the Temple shouts, “Nothing shall separate man from God ever again!” It is through this torn veil that believers may enter boldly—“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Mk. 15:21-41; Mt. 27:32-56; Lk. 23:26-49; Jn. 19:17-37):
What proof of Jesus’ deity do the scribes, Pharisees, and rulers demand of Jesus? What proof did Jesus give the repentant criminal? The centurion? Those nearby at the sixth hour? Those who knew the prophecies in Scripture?