The curtain separated the worlds of earth and heaven. According to Josephus and Philo, the four various colors used to weave it reflected the four elements from which the world was created: earth, air, fire, and water. It served as a reminder that God is omnipresent (present in all places) and omniscient (knowing everything about everyone). Jesus said that he came into the world to reveal God's love for his children.
The veil also protected the Israelites while they were in the desert by preventing any contact between God and his people during their trials. The Lord could have spoken to them at any time, but he wanted them to know his voice and obey his commands before they entered the land he promised them.
When the Israelites entered the temple area, the veil in front of the Holy of Holies was lifted up. This signified the end of God's protection of his people and their entrance into sin with its resulting punishment. Since that time, Christians have worn veils when they enter church buildings to indicate their submission to Christ and their desire to worship him alone.
Veils are still used in some churches as a sign of respect for women and as a means of protecting Christian girls from being abused or forced into marriage.
In Islam, the veil serves as a reminder of Allah's presence with his followers.
As such, the curtain symbolized the separation between God and man, which was created by sin. The shredding of the thick and heavy curtain signified the removal of that division at Christ's death, allowing humans direct access to God the Father. Yes, Christ's sacrifice was instrumental in removing the curtain.
The tearing of the curtain in two indicates that this event occurred on both Nisan 15 and 16, since the opening of the temple was closed for the Sabbath. As such, the crucifixion took place on a Friday evening and the resurrection Sunday morning.
Additionally, the curtain separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. So too, our salvation is divided into spiritual and physical realms. Our spirit goes to heaven when we die while our body remains on earth. The tearing of the curtain represents the reunification of God with His creation after our redemption through Jesus Christ.
Finally, the curtain served as a barrier between the holy objects inside the temple and the non-Israelites who visited the temple. In order for them to enter the holy area, the priests would have to remove the curtain first. This act represented the removal of any barrier between God and humanity.
After the crucifixion, Jesus' body was placed in a tomb guarded by soldiers. On the morning of the third day, these guards were disturbed when women discovered the tomb empty.
It represented Christ's admission into the presence of God, his humanity, his death on the cross, submission to authority, and the atonement of sins. As a result, when interpreting the veil, keep this in mind. The Hebrew word for "veil" can also be translated as "cover." It was used to describe the covering that Moses put over the mercy seat between the Testimony stone and the Holy Place modeled after the one that covered the ark of the covenant. This indicates that the veil was only a protective covering; it did not obscure anything.
There are two main views regarding the meaning of the veil. One view is called the "ritual view," which says that the veil hides something from view, such as the holy of holies or the altar. However, since nothing sacred could be seen from without the temple, this idea is not supported by the text. The other view is called the "theological view." It states that the veil covers something up (i.e., the sin of Adam and Eve), so that none of us can see it but God.
In the Old Testament, the veil was usually described as being in front of the entrance to the tabernacle or the temple. In the New Testament, it refers to the curtain in front of the tent where Jesus was crucified.
The usually mysterious line: his body was the veil of the temple appears in the Epistle to the Hebrews, which discusses the idea of Jesus as the high priest (Heb. 10.20). In other words, the veil was stuff that allowed whatever traveled through it from the world beyond the veil to be seen. However, since the Lord's body is now housed in the veil, this material thing is now representing the presence of God.
In Judaism, there is a veil that separates people who are not religious officers from the holy place. This veil is often depicted as white because it represents purity. It is believed by many Jews that touching the veil or any part of the temple grounds is like touching sacred ground- and so is forbidden for most non-Jews as well as Jews during certain times of their lives.
According to Jewish law, once a year all Jewish men are required to go into the temple and sacrifice a goat or sheep as an offering. Their intent is not supposed to be good enough for the temple priests to want them to do more than this once a year; rather, they are trying to show respect for the temple by doing something substantial even if they can't afford anything else special.
During these annual sacrifices, the temple priests would take some of the blood from the animal and pour it on the altar, where it would be drained away.
According to Josephus (War 5.212), it was a Babylonian tapestry, a curtain embroidered with a view of the skies (War 5.213). The curtain divided the holy from the most holy place (Exodus 26.33), hiding the ark and the cherubim or, in the temple, the ark and the chariot seat. It was pulled back on important occasions.
This information has been used by many artists over the ages. For example, Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel using this description as his guide. He too hid the details with a curtain, only here it was red velvet instead of Babylonian tapestry.
And now there is another revelation about the manger scene. Not only was it designed by an artist, but it also has an interesting story behind it. Art historian Margaret Walker Gibson has discovered evidence that suggests that the artist who painted the scene was also responsible for another famous painting in Italy at the time: Raphael's Madonna of the Meadow. She wrote a book about her discovery called The Boy in the Landscape: A Discovery into the Life and Times of Luca Penni. She believes that what is now called "the boy in the landscape" may have been inspired by the same event that inspired the manger scene—the assassination of Julius Caesar! We'll discuss this idea later in the chapter.
So both paintings show signs of being influenced by the same event—the death of Caesar.