Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Temple Veil

Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.  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 rentMatthew 27:50-51

At the crucifixion of Jesus, at the very moment of his death, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

What was the significance of this event?

What was the purpose of the veil?

The tabernacle that was erected in Moses’ day, and the temple built by King Solomon were built according to the exact directions that God had given.  The dimensions, the colours, the materials, the layout, everything had been prescribed by God. 

Among these specifications was the make and function of the temple veil.  The veil was around 4 inches thick and somewhere around 60 feet high.  It marked a physical separation between the Holy place, and the Most Holy place.  Beyond the veil, above the Ark of the Covenant, the Presence of God rested in a cloud of Glory.  God’s Presence was tangibly with his people.

But, it was inaccessible.  One man, the high priest, once a year entered into the Most Holy Place in order to offer “the blood of atonement” for the people of Israel. 

The veil was a barrier between man and God.  A barrier that could only be overcome with the blood of atonement. 

When the blood of Jesus was shed at the cross, at the moment that he gave up his life for us, the veil in the temple was supernaturally torn in two.  The separation between man and God had been overcome by the atoning blood of Christ, and God’s Presence became accessible. 

It would be hard to overstate the significance of this event.  The rending of the veil meant that the whole sacrificial system, the whole of the Law, had been fulfilled!  It meant that man, any man – not just the high priest – could enter the Presence of God based on the atoning power of the blood of the perfect sacrificial Lamb, Jesus Christ.  It meant that man's sin, his unworthiness, no longer separated him from God's Presence.  We could now enter God's Presence not because we are perfect, or holy, or righteous, or worthy; but because Jesus is, and for some reason that we can't fully understand, he loves us and has chosen to unite himself to us.  His righteousness is our righteousness.  His worthiness is our worthiness.  

What does this have to do with Mormonism?

The LDS Church has Temples in which they perform their ordinances which are required for exaltation to the Celestial Kingdom, (where God dwells).  The Temple in Mormonism is just as much a symbol of God’s Presence as the Jerusalem Temple was to the Jews.  The Temple is where God’s Presence dwells on earth.
The problem is that in order to even get to the Temple, you have to prove yourself ‘worthy’.  If you follow all of the rules, (tithing, Word of Wisdom, etc.), you can earn yourself a Temple recommend – which you will be asked to see upon entering the Temple.  You cannot enter the Temple if you are ‘unworthy’.

Once you have gotten to the Temple, you are required to perform ordinances which, if completed successfully, will earn you the right to pass ‘through the veil’ and into the ‘Celestial room’, the holiest place in the Temple – the place, presumably, where God’s Presence dwells on earth. 

Wait...  what?!?

That’s right.  The veil that Jesus ripped in half with his death has been sewn back together.  Rather than leaning upon the atoning blood of Christ that cleanses us from all sin and makes us worthy because He is worthy; Mormons have to rely upon their obedience, their righteousness, their worthiness in order to enter God’s Presence. 

The whole point of Christ’s coming was because we can’t prove ourselves worthy!  We are sinners in need of a Saviour!  If you are relying upon your own righteousness instead of Christ's righteousness, you have rejected his offer of salvation.  

Please take a moment to pray for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.