“And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom (Mark 15:38).”
In addition to what we have written on the figurative import of the veil of the temple, and its being rent in sunder, we will offer a few thoughts in regard to its application directly to the sacred person of our divine mediator. The most profound and glorious mystery presented in the whole volume of inspired wisdom and truth is that of God manifested in the flesh. And so vitally important and fundamental is this mystery that the apostle John has denounced as anti-christian every spirit that denieth that Christ is come in the flesh; while Paul, by the same spirit, affirms that “Without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit, seen of angels, preached to the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up unto glory.
The fleshly body of our Redeemer, which was made of a woman, and made under the law, is very appropriately called in scripture a veil, or tabernacle, within which dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. The eternal Father, with all his attributes and perfections, was embodied in him, and in him so completely hidden that no man can come unto the Father but by him. While he is in the Father, the Father is also in him, and so entirely so that all who come unto God by him must come by and through the new and living way which God has consecrated for us through the veil, that is to say, his flesh. That flesh in which the Godhead dwelt, like the curtains of a tabernacle, concealed from human perception all the glory of the invisible God; and he was only seen in the fashion of a man and in the form of a servant. His flesh veiled the glory of his eternal Godhead from human scrutiny. Neither Jews nor Gentiles could see any beauty in him to admire or to attract. To men he was as a root out of dry ground; and we hid, as it were, our face from him. Men could see his fleshly person as the Israelites could see the external curtains of the tabernacle in the wilderness, or the veil in the temple intervening between them and the ark, the mercy seat and the cherubims of glory. Men knew him, or supposed that they knew him, as the son of the carpenter; and regarded him as a despised Nazarene. But no man knew him in his true character save those to whom he was revealed by the Father. “Whom say men that I am?” They entertained a variety of opinions; but none of them the right. “But whom say ye that I am?” was demanded of the disciples, from whom the veil had been removed. Simon Peter declared the faith of the saints correctly, but he had not learned it of flesh and blood, but it was revealed to him by the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. As the veil of the temple then pointed to the flesh of the Son of man, and that veil concealed the glory of the holiest place of all from the outer court worshipers, so the flesh of Christ conceals from the understanding of all natural men the light of immortality which he alone hath; for he is the only and blessed Potentate, who only hath immortality dwelling in the light, whom no man hath seen nor can see, whom no man can approach unto. Indeed it was not lawful for any to look within the veil while it remained, only the high priest, even so the law of God forbids a revelation of the unsearchable riches of Christ, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, to any of the sons of man until all the requisitions of the law are fulfilled, and the veil lawfully removed. In applying the rending of the veil to the redemption of the children of God, we shall see that as the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom so the letter and the spirituality of the law of God so far as it related to the family of God were separated. The righteousness of the law was fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit; while as a law of commandments, having dominion over God’s people it was taken out of the way, and as a separating wall or partition, it was no longer to obscure the way of life and salvation from the heirs of immortality. The trembling, guilt-stricken Israelite conscious of his uncleanness, with his hand upon his mouth, dared not to look within the veil. He knew full well the terror of the law. And when Moses, as the bearer of the holy law, came down the mountain from the presence of God, the carnal tribes could not steadfastly look on his face for it shined with insufferable glory. But when God removes the veil of the covering which was upon all flesh, it is by the presentation of a new and living way into the most holy place. Twas death to the carnal Israelite to look within the veil. But the way into the holiest of all is in the gospel found to be a new and living way. Not only is Christ as the way a living Christ; but those who by and through him approach unto God, instead of death are delivered from death, quickened and made alive, and come boldly to the throne of grace. They draw nigh unto God, with a true heart, in full assurance of faith by this new and living way which God has consecrated for them through the veil, that is his flesh. The rending of the flesh of the Son of God has opened the way of life and salvation for all who come unto God by him. Neither can any other than those for whom he was pierced be saved in this way; for it is consecrated, set apart, and appropriated to them alone who shall be the heirs of salvation. But it is a blessed thought that this consecration of the way to God by Christ includes all who feel their need of just such a Savior, and truly desire to be saved in and through this consecrated way; while all who look for salvation or access to God by any other way will find that in the end of their way are the ways of death.
This is a new, as well as a living and consecrated way. Not new to God; for known unto him are all his works from the beginning. But it is new, first, in distinction from the ceremonial law; in which carnal men who were born in Abraham’s house, or bought with his money looked for remission of sins and acceptance with God by the deeds of the law, and through the flesh and blood of victims which were offered continually on Jewish altars. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope, by the which we draw nigh unto God. The carnal sons of Jacob who had never known the law only in its letter, had no idea of any other way to God, or to draw nigh unto God than through the blood of bulls, goats, heifers and the flesh of such offerings as they were presenting; therefore the way through the veil of his flesh, who was made flesh and dwelt among us was new, opening a way to God and into the holiest of all which the law could not present, and that was never made manifest while as yet the old tabernacle remained.
Secondly. In an experimental sense; for those who come unto God in this way never had any conception of this way until it was revealed to them. Hence when by the light of the quickening spirit of God they see the purity of the law which, as a dark and gloomy veil is upon them, they try to approach God by their prayers, tears, reformations, and resolutions, and failing to advance they sink in hopeless despair, give up all for lost; and verily think that even God cannot save them without tarnishing his justice; but when this living way is revealed to them, it is altogether new. A new light from the eternal throne of God reveals it; and a new life implanted in their hearts perceives it, and a new faith, as the fruit of that new life lays hold firmly upon it, they find themselves brought to God in this new, living, consecrated way. They are in Christ, and Christ is in God. They are one with Christ as Christ is one with the Father.
But, our sister may ask, how is this to be understood as being through his flesh. As we are identified with Christ by receiving of his fullness and grace for grace, identified with him in that spiritual, eternal life which was with the Father and was given to us in the Son, so he has fully identified himself with us in taking on him, not the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham, and if ye be Christ’s, then are ye the seed of Abraham, and heirs according to the promise, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same.” The relationship is reciprocal; he takes on him the seed of Abraham, and imparts to them that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested. In giving to us this immortal life, he bestows on us the righteousness of God, without which we can not be saved; and in taking on him our flesh he takes on him our infirmities, carries our sorrows, bears our griefs, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. Our flesh is his flesh, and he is not ashamed to call us brethren; and within his flesh is life, and the life is the light of men; the life and immortality of the body, the church. Through this relationship the consecrated way is opened. The highway is here and the way, and it is the way of holiness; no lion shall be there nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon; for it is consecrated through his flesh for the wayfaring man; though fools shall not err therein. By this way all the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with joy upon their head, and sorrowing and sighing shall flee away. This immortality or life of God, which Christ is to the body, his Church, shall triumph over and finally swallow up the mortality of the seed of Abraham, and death shall be abolished, and these mortal members shall put on immortality, and these corruptibles shall put on incorruption, and the saying which is written shall be brought to pass, that death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law; but, thanks be unto God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
November 15, 1864.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 6
Pages 108 - 112