Matt 27:51                             The Veil Was Rent                                      12/17/2006    ßà   

  • The Simplicity of the Gospel

 

 

 

 

#1.       A Magnificent Substitute (1Cor 2:2, Matt 27:45-54)

 

 

 

 

 

  • The Veil Was Rent (Matt 27:51, Heb 9:1-10, 4:16, John 2:21, Matt 27:53, Gal 4:25)

 

 

 

 

 

#2.       The Veil Represents His Flesh (Heb 10:19-22, Eph 1:4, Heb 6:19-20)

 

 

 

 

 

#3.       A Wall of Partition (Eph 2:11-18, Col 2:13-17)

 

 

 

 

 

#4.       All Nations Are Now of Equal Value (Gal 3:28-29,16, Eph 1:4)

 

 

 

 

Please open your Bibles to the Gospel according to Matthew, Matt 27:45 (2X). I am continuing the series of sermons that I began a few weeks ago, for which I now have a title. The title of this series is, The Simplicity of the Gospel (2X). In this series I will focus on the basic elements of the Gospel, and I will try to structure the sermon as simple as possible, and I will keep the references as focused as possible, so that even the children can follow the sermon outline. I began this series with two sermons focused on John 3:16. Then I gave an example how to find the Atonement of Christ on the cross in the OT and see it in the light of the NT with a sermon on Isa 53:4. Then two weeks ago I preached on Matt 23:37, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem”. One week ago I preached on Matt 13:15, “Is It God’s Will If Many Remain Deaf and Blind”. And since this is a series on the very basics of the Gospel I tried to keep the discussion as simple as possible, all the while focusing on The Simplicity of the Gospel. Today we will focus on the last moments of the Lord Jesus on the cross in the Gospel according to Matthew. We are commanded by the Lord to remember this scene and to cherish this scene in a ceremony that we call “the Lord’s Supper”. The Lord Jesus said at His last supper when He passed the bread and the cup to His disciples, “Do this in remembrance of Me”. That is why we remember that He as our magnificent substitute stood, laden with our sins, before the throne of God and He willingly endured the penalty that we deserved for our sins. That is why He is:

#1.       A Magnificent Substitute (1Cor 2:2, Matt 27:45-54)

This scene that is described here in Matt 27, and likewise in the other three narrative Gospels, is the central point of all of human history, and is the central point of the Gospel that we hold so dear. The apostle Paul stayed at Corinth a year and a half. And when he wrote to the church at Corinth he said in

1Co 2:2  For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

For 1½ years he preached at Corinth and all his preaching was summarized with these words, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified”. And so, it is the proper thing for us to consider this scene that we have here in Matt 27, and there we read in verse 45,

Mt 27:45  Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.

Mt 27:46  And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Mt 27:47  Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias.

Mt 27:48  And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink.

Mt 27:49  The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him.

Mt 27:50 ¶  Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

Mt 27:51  And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;

Mt 27:52-53  And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,                And

came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

Mt 27:54  Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

In God’s sight this event was the hinge on which the OT mode of worship changed to the NT mode of worship. The OT mode of worship revolved around the Ceremonial Law, which was actually a series of pictures of Christ crucified, or pictures of the Bride of Christ. People who lived in the OT who obeyed the Ceremonial Law were acting out their faith in these pictures, or signs, pointing to Christ who would erase the guilt of their sins. And thus when OT saints were saved they looked forward to Christ who would take care of their sins, whereas NT saints are saved by looking back at the Atonement of Christ and believe that all their sins were taken care of by Him. The text of this sermon is verse 51, where we read, “And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent”. Particularly we want to focus on the fact that “the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom”. And thus the title of our sermon today is The Veil Was Rent.

  • The Veil Was Rent (Matt 27:51, Heb 9:1-10, 4:16, John 2:21, Matt 27:53, Gal 4:25)

 We want to understand the meaning of this event, which had great consequences for the NT economy of things. Why did God include this event in three of the four synoptic Gospel stories? And why is this event included in the very basics of the NT Gospel? We read in Heb 9:1-10 a summary of the layout of the temple. There was in the temple a room which was called “the Holy Place”, where only the priests were allowed. Next to it was a room that was called “the Holy of Holies”, where the Ark of the Covenant was located, and where symbolically God dwelt. The Holy of Holies was separated from the Holy Place by a heavy curtain, which is called “the veil”. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, did the high priest twice enter into the Holy of Holies with the blood of a bullock and with the blood of a goat. No one else was allowed to see the Holy of Holies at any time. This was a picture that access to God could only be through a future mediator where the high priest was a picture of that future Mediator and it was also a picture indicating that access for sinners to a holy God is only through atoning blood of that future Mediator. And so, during all the long ages that preceded the death of Christ they had only the blood of bulls and of goats, and thus the thick veil remained, since the blood of bulls and of goats could not take away even one sin. But now, at the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, the one atoning sacrifice was provided in the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, and access to holy God could no longer be denied. The thick veil, which for so many years had been the symbol of separation between God and sinful men, was mysteriously torn from the top to the bottom, and the curtain was opened. There was absolutely no horizontal tension in the curtain, it was a heavy and sturdy and long lasting curtain, but it was the Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was now made manifest”, from Heb 9:8. The tabernacle had done its service, and now Christ replaced that tabernacle. God tore that veil open. By that action God indicated that access to God was now directly available to all NT believers, since in the NT dispensation all believers are called priests. And God calls us, in Heb 4:16, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace”, for the old veil is gone. By that action God indicated that the Holy of Holies was no longer the place where God resides. This means that the temple was no longer the temple of God, for Christ replaced the temple of God. He broke down the temple and rebuilt it in three days, as He said He would do in John 2:21. And indeed when Christ rose from the tomb on the third day His atonement was complete, and He is now the temple where we find God. This meant that Jerusalem was no longer “the holy city” that we read about in Matt 27:53. Instead “the holy city” is pointing to the New Jerusalem that is above, which is the city that we are citizens of. And the Jerusalem of bricks and mortar, there east of the Mediterranean, God calls her “Jerusalem which now is, is in bondage with here children”, from Gal 4:25. To be in bondage means to be still in bondage to sin and Satan, like all the other nations of the world are. This means that the nation of Israel is no longer God’s favorite nation; Israel is no longer the wife of God, for Jerusalem is no longer the city where God dwells. Thus we see that God’s tearing of the veil has far reaching consequences. But there is more. What can we say about the veil itself? Please turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Hebrews, Heb 10:19 (2X). In this chapter God focuses on Christ’s offering as the final sacrifice for sin, and that Christ as our High Priest has now sanctified, or set apart, all those who were given to Him by the Father. And then, continuing the theme from Heb 4:16 He says that we now can “come boldly unto the throne of grace”, because here God says, surprisingly, that the veil represents His flesh:

#2.       The Veil Represents His Flesh (Heb 10:19-22, Eph 1:4, Heb 6:19-20)

Heb 10:19  Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

Heb 10:20-21  By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;         And having an high priest over the house of God;

Heb 10:22  Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

In this Epistle to the Hebrews God writes about Christ as the Lamb of God as well as Christ as our great High Priest who brought the blood of the Lamb of God through the veil into the Holy of Holies. And thus Christ fulfilled the requirements of the Passover as well as those of the Day of Atonement. Therefore this is how we should read various passages of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Let us begin with Heb 10:19, “We have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus”, because Christ as our High Priest opened up the veil into the Holy of Holies, for He set us free from the House of Bondage by His blood as our Passover Lamb. Heb 10:20, “By a new and living way which Christ as our High Priest has especially made for us”. By the rending of the veil, His flesh, first Christ opened the way to God for Himself, for He first cleansed Himself from our sins by enduring the equivalent of an eternity in Hell while hanging on the cross, where His flesh was torn, as our Passover Lamb. Secondly, having been cleansed from sins He qualified to be our High Priest, and by the rending of the veil Christ then entered into the Holy of Holies with the blood of the Lamb of God, to bring the ultimate atoning blood that was pleasing to God. Thirdly, as our Passover Lamb He carried each one of His people within Him, for we were in Christ from before the foundation of the world, Eph 1:4. Therefore after He rent the veil we have boldness to enter into the Holy of Holies after Him by that new and living way that He has made especially for us. Heb 10:21-22, “Having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith”. We therefore have the privilege to draw near to God because we have Christ as our High Priest, our infinitely qualified Mediator, who qualified Himself, and us, to enter through the veil, that is through His flesh, to have free access to the throne of grace, which is the mercy seat behind the veil. He first entered the Holy of Holies, and then He encourages us to do the same, for He made us acceptable unto God. Please turn in your Bibles two pages back to Heb 6:19 (2X). Here we have a confirmation of the concept that Christ first entered the Holy of Holies as our forerunner, as our High Priest, and then He encourages us to do the same. That is why by faith we can be both sure and stedfast to believe the things we have been taught. We read in Heb 6:19-20,

Heb 6:19-20   Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;           Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.

This is the hope we have, which is called hope because these matters of faith are things that we have not seen, but we can be certain that they are true. But there is more. The veil also points to:

#3.       A Wall of Partition (Eph 2:11-18, Col 2:13-17)

Please turn about 50 pages to your left to the Epistle to the Ephesians, Eph 2:11 (2X). Let me first back up a little. Since Jehovah declared Himself as the only true God to Israel, His people were commanded not only to study and keep His Law, but they were to separate themselves from the heathen and from the religious practices of the heathen. For this purpose God gave Moses the Law in very great detail so that Israel could clearly see how they were to live separate from the heathen. God not only gave them the moral Law, which is in force everywhere and at all times, both in the OT as well as in the NT time, but God gave them also the Ceremonial Law. And it was the Ceremonial Law that made them truly different from the heathen. It was the Ceremonial Law that put a wall of partition between Israel and the heathen nations around them. And when we look at the tabernacle in the wilderness, and just as well the temple in Jerusalem, we recognize that the entire tabernacle and temple business is part of the Ceremonial Law. The Christians of the 1st century did not recognize it immediately. But when God destroyed Jerusalem by the hand of the Romans, and the temple as well, the Christians realized that God thereby indicated that the Ceremonial Law must be done away after Christ had died. Then they realized that the veil in the temple, and the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies, and all the things therein, were items that belonged to the Ceremonial Law, were pointing to Christ and must be done away and never to be rebuild again. By means of the Ceremonial Law God spoke in picture language of the salvation that He was going to bring through the life and death of His incarnate Son. Therefore the Ceremonial Law was imperfect and temporary. For example the priests in the OT ceremonial Law were not necessarily saved, and the sacrifices they brought unto God could not take away any sin. But when Christ came He was the perfect High Priest, and when He brought one sacrifice it was so perfect that it replaced all other sacrifices. It was then that they realized what the apostle Paul meant in his Epistle to the Ephesians. Let us read what God says here, beginning in V.11,

Eph 2:11  Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands;

Eph 2:12  That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

Eph 2:13  But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Eph 2:14-15  For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;          Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

Eph 2:16  And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:       And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.

Eph 2:18  For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Let us read this again. In verses 11 and 12 paraphrased God says to the Gentile saints “Remember that you were at one time unsaved Gentiles, you were aliens from the citizenship of Israel, you were strangers from the promises of God, you had no hope of eternal life, and you were without the true God in a world of Satan. You were separated from Israel by their Ceremonial Law”. Verse 13, “But now, you who were so far away from salvation, were made near to us Jews by the blood of Christ”. Verse 14-15, “For Christ is our peace; we are no longer enemies. He has made both Jews and Gentiles into one, and He has broken down the middle wall of partition between us”. What was that middle wall of partition? It was the Ceremonial Law. And how did Christ do that? He has abolished in His flesh the enmity that existed between the Jews and the Gentiles. And that enmity was manifested in the law of commandments and ordinances. In other words, through the tearing of the veil, through the tearing of the flesh of Christ on the cross, which was a picture of His suffering the equivalent of an eternity in Hell, the Lord Jesus Christ abolished the Ceremonial Law of commandments and ordinances, which was the major cause of division between Jews and Gentiles. Actually the Greek text of the Textus Receptus says it much clearer. When we look at verses 14-15 we read there,

Eph 2:14, For He is our peace, the (One) making us both one, and having broken down the middle wall of partition in His flesh,                   (“in His flesh” belongs to verse 14)

Eph 2:15, Causing to cease the enmity, the Law of the commandments in ordinances, that He might in Himself create the two into one new man, making peace.

In other words, through the death of Christ the Ceremonial Law was abolished, and thus the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles was broken down. We find the same truth stated in the Epistle to the Colossians. Please turn about 15 pages to your right to the Epistle to the Colossians, Col 2:13 (2X). God is addressing the saints who were at one time unsaved and uncircumcised Gentiles, but now they were no longer considered unsaved. God says to them in verse 13,

Col 2:13  And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

Col 2:14-15  Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;     And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Col 2:16-17  Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days:   Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

In verse 14 the Lord speaks of “the handwriting of ordinances that was against us”, referring to the ordinances in the Ceremonial Law. Christ took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross. Now look at the context. What does God say in verse 16? Notice the word “therefore”. What is the “therefore” there for? God speaks about meat and drink and about feast days and about Sabbaths, which are all items that the Ceremonial Law addresses in commandments and ordinances. God says that all these ceremonial laws were only shadows of things to come. What is the substance of these shadows? The substance is Christ. When Christ atoned for the sins of all those whom He came to save, when His flesh was torn, all these shadows were fulfilled, and the entire ceremonial Law was done away. This was a good thing for the Gentiles. But the result was that the Jews were no longer a special nation in the eyes of God.

#4.       All Nations Are Now of Equal Value (Gal 3:28-29,16, Eph 1:4)

Please turn about 22 pages to your left to the Epistle to the Galatians, Gal 3:28 (2X). The theme of this entire chapter is, “The Purpose of the Law”. The purpose of the Law is “to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith”. God never intended to save anyone through obedience to the Law, either to the Ceremonial Law or to any other law. But when the Law was fulfilled, the result is verse 28,

Ga 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Ga 3:29  And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

There is neither Jew nor Greek”. It means that there is now no more any difference between those who were born as Jews and those who were born as Gentiles. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. God will save a remnant out of every nation, but it is not true that there will come a time when God will save all the Jews. This means that all the premillennial schemes, whereby the Jews would again be a special nation under God, are in conflict with God’s declaration that there is now neither Jew nor Greek. We may not call God a liar in this verse. God says clearly in verse 28 that WE, the believers, the saints, the Bride of Christ, are all one in Christ Jesus. And if we belong to Christ, then are we called “Abraham’s seed”. What does this mean, and is this verse not in conflict with Gal 3:16? Please look on the page to your left and let us read Gal 3:16,

Ga 3:16  Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy Seed, which is Christ.

The Lord Jesus Christ is called “Abraham’s Seed”. Therefore everywhere we read in Genesis about Abraham’s seed we should reevaluate if the context perhaps refers to the Lord Jesus Christ. The context should make it clear. But in addition, All the saints are and were “in Christ” from before the foundation of the world, Eph 1:4. Therefore all the saints receive the same name as the One in whom they reside. If Christ is called Abraham’s Seed, then all those who are in Christ are also called Abraham’s seed. Let us summarize the glorious conclusions we have found today. When the Lord Jesus Christ died, the veil in the temple was rent, which veil represents the flesh of Christ. The tearing of that veil in the temple was God’s way of making known that the entire Ceremonial Law was done away when Christ died. The NT mode of worship had begun, and God divorced Himself from being married to the nation of Israel. Instead the Father chose a Bride for His Son out of all nations of the world, and not only out of the nation of Israel. For example, I was born in Indonesia, far removed from anything that would qualify me as a son of Israel. But God chose to save me even though I was far off, and without Christ, an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, and a stranger from the covenants of promise. Truly I was without hope and without God in the world of sin. But God had mercy on me, and moved me to these United States of America, where finally at the age of 40 I heard the Gospel, and God opened my spiritual ears and made me hear the truth from the Bible. Even in my wildest dream I could not have imagined that God would take this beggar on the dunghill and would raise him up to sit among princes and to make him inherit the throne of glory. But God did, and for this I am eternally grateful to Him. God planned to do this from before the foundation of the world, but God actually did this at the time that Christ died, and the veil in the temple was rent from the top to the bottom.

AMEN.                 Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.