Summary: A sermon on the curtain of the temple being torn in two and what this means for us. (Material taken from Mark Garland in NIV Application Commentary and SermonCentral Contributor Pat Cook in Unveiling God’s Heart)
Sermon for 6/4/2006
Curtain Torn in Two
A. Focus in on verse. 38.
B. So a curtain was torn! Big deal! Let me say that all of the members of the power team could not tear this curtain, or veil.
C. This curtain hangs from the ceiling. IT was 60 feet long, 30 feet wide, and several inches thick. It was dense material; the thread count was very high. It also had gold and silver threads braided throughout the curtain. This curtain was so heavy that it took 300 priests to carry it.
D. It is significant to note that it was torn from the top to the bottom. God did this!
E. Also, this curtain separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies was separated from all of the altars and other sacrificial instruments by this curtain. The Holy of Holies was only entered once a year by the high priest on the Day of Atonement. The high priest would take blood and sprinkle it on the Ark of the Covenant and the cherubim and this would symbolize God’s forgiveness of sins for the Israelites.
F. The Holy of Holies also symbolized God’s presence. It was believed that the Presence of God dwelt between the cherubim in that room. This room was closed all the year except on that one day for the high priest. This room was so sacred that when the high priest went into that room, he wore a rope. If he were to die in the Holy of Holies, the other priests could drag him out with the rope without entering that sacred room. No one could see God and live!
G. We know that Matthew, Mark, and Luke, who recorded this event of the curtain, were not priests. How did they know? It was told to them by the priests that were there. Imagine the scene! It was 3 o’clock in the afternoon on Friday before the Passover. 3 o’clock was the traditional time of the evening sacrifice. With all of the people in Jerusalem for Passover, this would have been a very busy time for the priests. Most of them were in the temple sacrificing animals for this special time. Jesus was outside the city being crucified. At exactly 3 o’clock Jesus breathed his last. At that moment, the curtain was torn in two. The very presence of God was there and to have that curtain torn at that holy moment for all to see was a sign from God.
H. (Acts 6:7 NIV) So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.
I. The book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus opened for us a new and living way. Living referring to his resurrection.
J. This torn curtain, veil in the temple symbolizes many new things for us.
Thesis: This morning let’s talk about 5 new things that this symbolizes for us.
1. A New Revelation
A. The curtain that shielded the holiest part of the temple was torn away. This veil of secrecy lifted, and all could see the face of God and the love of God in Jesus’ death.
B. Humans can now know and confess what was already announced from heaven. At the baptism of Jesus: (Mark 1:11 NIV) And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."
C. That room, the Holy of Holies, was dark and silent much like God was to the world. The tearing of that curtain let the bright sunlight into that room. This is a symbol of the great fact that in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord, we have light thrown onto the subject of who God really is. From the gospel we know that God cannot tolerate sin and the wages of sin is death. But it also tells us of God’s love that is willing to sacrifice, to come down to our conditions, and how God takes upon himself all the miseries that we have, and how God dies because he loves and will save men from death.
D. How do we know this? Not because we think it or feel it or because it was told to us in sweet and kind words but we know it because of the facts. The only way that we can know men is by what they do. We cannot read men’s hearts. The only way that we know God is by what He does. We point to the cross and say because of that fact we know that God loves and that God cares.
E. Our faith is not based on philosophies or theories or wishes or dreams, but it is based on historical facts. The choice for us: are we going to believe or not? We either accept the historical facts or we have no knowledge of God at all. Many would prefer to have the curtain sown back together because then we can see nothing and we know nothing about God. We are not responsible. The curtain has been torn in two so that we can see and know God. WE have no excuses.