The mews of little lambs in the temple were slowly fading, and the Priests were settling the temple for the Sabbatical ceremonies. In an instant, the temple began to shake. The bowls and utensils began to rattle and the golden lamp stand began to waver. Suddenly, with a roar, the massive veil separating the holiest section of the temple from the rest of the complex tore in half. According to early Jewish tradition this veil was so massive that it required three hundred priests to carry, and was the thickness of a man’s palm. The sound that roared out of the temple compound that day would be heard throughout the streets of Jerusalem.
So the earth quaked, and temple veil split, but why?
The massive veil hung in the temple from ceiling to floor, signifying the great barrier that existed between God and the people. Once a year, the high priest would venture into the Holy of Holies to make a sacrifice for the sins of the people. With the devastation of this separating veil, came the overwhelming truth that no longer would man be separated from God. Because of Jesus, mankind could now have unhindered, uninhibited access to God.
Earthquakes in the Old Testament were a way of God indicating His presence to His people (Psalm 68:8). This was the case when Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the law of God. Exodus 19:18 describes how that when God showed up with Moses, “the whole mount quaked greatly.” As Jesus died, God was present. Because Jesus bore sin in His body, and thus received the wrath of God, God had not offered His comfort during this hour of need. But God nonetheless was present, and His testimony could be seen and felt as the earth quaked, and the rocks were smashed violently.
In His death, Jesus had finished the work that He had come to accomplish. He had born the wrath of God for all those who would believe in Him. He had destroyed the spiritual veil of separation that for thousands of years had kept sinful mankind from having unhindered access to God. And this was not a one-sided access that was granted. This was fully designed, and approved by the Providential God who showed Himself on that dark afternoon. In the quaking of the earth, He made certain that all the world could know that He was satisfied. Jesus had paid for the sins of the whole world. It was finished.
Food For Thought: Read Hebrews 10:19-22. What does the Spirit of God want us to understand in Hebrews about the spiritual work that Jesus accomplished in His death?