THE RENT VEIL — ITS GLORIOUS MEANING
"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh" (Heb. 10:19-20).
"Brethren . . . boldness . . . blood." Momentous words are these from the hand of the Spirit-moved writer and fresh from the heart of God. And they strike like a flood of sunshine across the path of men whose way had been under the leaden-gray skies of partial and imperfect fellowship with God. These words describe a spiritual revolution that began in the days of the cross and has been marching across the continents and the centuries with the same revolutionizing and gladdening effect.
1. "Brethren." Such is the prominent word with which this passage opens, conveying the message of a unique relationship among men and such a relationship for which men have vainly striven, to which the history of the world both then and now testifies. This is a relationship of father and children, of brother with brother, which is not to be construed as merely the universal relationship of humankind, nor even the racial relationship of the Jewish people, but as a spiritual relationship; for the writer insists that this brotherhood has an entrance into the holiest of all, into which place none but those who have been joined spiritually to the Son of God can gain entrance (John 14:6).
"Brethren" is the word which to the mind of that day immediately conveyed the blessed truth of unity of origin, as coming from the same womb. And since everyone who belongs to this family of God enters this family by the same way, by being born into it through the operation of the Spirit of God (John 3:3), it is only natural that the word which points to this unity of origin should be employed from the very first to delineate this fact. Hence this word became precious on the lips of sovereign and slave alike, as marking the abolition of class, caste, and condition, and as expressing an intimacy, tenderness, and affection that had never been known before on land or sea.
Nor does this truth terminate here, for brotherhood implies a common Father who begat the brethren. And it is this relationship of tenderness, intimacy, and love that sends the believer hastening with eagerness and joy into the presence of a loving Father to pillow the weary head upon his responsive breast; to pour out the burdens of a heart bursting with emotion; to claim the precious, patient, and purposive care of this loving Father. The same Father that Jesus received His instructions and from Whom the will of His Father was made known. The same Father that gave Him commandments to pass on to His chosen, words that are eternal and life giving (John 12:50).
2. And "boldness" is the way the believer dares to enter into the presence of this holiest of all persons, thus placing in most startling contrast the privileges and practice of the believers in two dispensations. Through the long centuries of Jewish history, only by the most elaborate ceremonial system could the Old Testament believer gain access to God, and even then he entered only by a representative into the most holy place of the temple, and even this was but the figure of the presence of the holy God. Into this place of the temple, separated by a great veil from the rest of the temple, the high priest went once a year, with blood. The dwelling glory of God manifested by the diffused light which appeared over the mercy seat and beneath the wings of the cherubim was the assurance he sought that God was still with his people. Anxiously, fearfully, this entrance was made once a year; and the only evidence that the waiting multitude had that their representative had been received and was still alive was the tinkle of the bells on the fringe of his garment. Undoubtedly, as the waiting multitude saw him emerge safely each year from this inner sanctuary of God's presence, they heaved a sigh of relief that this precious but perilous experience had once more been passed in safety.
Placed in unmistakable contrast with this is the "boldness" with which the believer in the new dispensation enters, not through the veil of the temple into the most holy place, but into the very presence of God in the heavens (Heb. 9:24). And we note with joy, as did those early believers, that this writer meant that the believer could enter with the attitude of utter confidence, full assurance, and fearless eagerness; and so far as practice is concerned, with no studied reserve or effort to conceal, but with openness, frankness, and fullness of speech. It is therefore of the greatest importance to note that he is speaking of the believer's entrance into the heavens in prayer. And we ask with pointedness, how was this impassable gulf spanned? How was the impregnable veil rent? How the unapproachable Person was made approachable? And the answer is "blood."
3. "Blood" is the answer to these questions. Blood is the basis of "boldness" and "brethren." And blood tells a story all its own, a story of butchery, broken bones, blasted lives, bleeding hearts; and most of all the story of that One bleeding heart that was broken for you and me, that we might be "brethren" with "boldness" to enter into the holiest. Just as the high priest took blood once a year with which to open the way into the holiest of the temple, so there was effected for the believer a bleeding sacrifice on Calvary, the effects of which flow unceasingly into the hands of the believer to keep open that way into the Father's presence.
But the Spirit of God was not satisfied with the mere mention of blood. For the readers might get the impression that this blood, even though it be the blood of the Son of God, is like the blood of animals which served for one entrance into the holiest and ceased to have any further efficacy. So he moves the writer to add several words that flash with light and hope. The first is the word "new" which literally means freshly slain, meaning fresh in the sense that never before had this way been open, and never again will it need to be opened. Just as on Calvary that day, when the veil of His flesh was opened, so that flesh of His stands freshly slain forever. The second is the word "living" marking the eternal, personal warmth of life. This is not the picture of the dead carcass of an animal, which, having served its purpose is gone and gone forever. But it is the picture of an active personality that lives and invites the fellowship of believers.
It was this freshly slain and fervent way that was "consecrated" once and for all time, never to be repeated as the priests must perform their task all over again the next year. But once and for all time this "new and living way" was inaugurated through the veil of flesh of the blessed Son of God, never to be repeated; for it was sufficient for all, deficient for none, and efficient for all those who by faith will travel its way into the holiest in the heavens. To neglect this way of prayer made and kept open at such a price is a sad commentary upon the spiritual condition of such a one. But for those who with "boldness" enter into the holiest there are pleasures forever.