the Holy Place of the tabernacle, there was an inner room called the
Holy of Holies, or the Most Holy Place. Judging from its name, we can
see that it was a most sacred room, a place no ordinary person could
enter. It was God’s special dwelling place in the midst of His
people. During the Israelites’ wanderings in the wilderness, God
appeared as a pillar of cloud or fire in and above the Holy of Holies.
The Holy of Holies was a perfect cube — its length, width and height
were all equal to 15 feet.
thick curtain separated the Holy of Holies from the Holy Place. This
curtain, known as the “veil,” was made of fine linen and blue,
purple and scarlet yarn. There were figures of cherubim (angels)
embroidered onto it. Cherubim, spirits who serve God, were in the
presence of God to demonstrate His almighty power and majesty. They
also guarded the throne of God. These cherubim were also on the
innermost layer of covering of the tent. If one looked upward, they
would see the cherubim figures.
word “veil” in Hebrew means a screen, divider or separator that
hides. What was this curtain hiding? Essentially, it was shielding a
holy God from sinful man. Whoever entered into the Holy of Holies was
entering the very presence of God. In fact, anyone except the high
priest who entered the Holy of Holies would die. Even the high priest,
God’s chosen mediator with His people, could only pass through the
veil and enter this sacred dwelling once a year, on a prescribed day
called the Day of Atonement.
picture of the veil was that of a barrier between man and God, showing
man that the holiness of God could not be trifled with. God’s eyes
are too pure to look on evil and He can tolerate no sin (Habakkuk
1:13). The veil was a barrier to make sure that man could not
carelessly and irreverently enter into God’s awesome presence. Even
as the high priest entered the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement,
he had to make some meticulous preparations: He had to wash himself,
put on special clothing, bring burning incense to let the smoke cover
his eyes from a direct view of God, and bring blood with him to make
atonement for sins.
only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a
year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for
the sins the people had committed in ignorance.” (Hebrews 9:7)
presence of God remained shielded from man behind a thick curtain
during the history of Israel. However, Jesus’ sacrificial death on
the cross changed that. When He died, the curtain in the Jerusalem
temple was torn in half, from the top to the bottom. Only God could
have carried out such an incredible feat because the veil was too high
for human hands to have reached it, and too thick to have torn it.
(The Jerusalem temple, a replica of the wilderness tabernacle, had a
curtain that was about 60 feet in height, 30 feet in width and four
inches thick.) Furthermore, it was torn from top down, meaning this
act must have come from above.
veil was torn, the Holy of Holies was exposed. God’s presence was
now accessible to all. Shocking as this may have been to the priests
ministering in the temple that day, it is indeed good news to us as
believers, because we know that Jesus’ death has atoned for our sins
and made us right before God. The torn veil illustrated Jesus’ body
broken for us, opening the way for us to come to God. As Jesus cried
out “It is finished!” on the cross, He was indeed proclaiming that
God’s redemptive plan was now complete. The age of animal offerings
was over. The ultimate offering had been sacrificed.
now boldly enter into God’s presence, “the inner sanctuary behind
the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our
behalf.” (Hebrews 6:19-20)
brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by
the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through
the curtain, that is, his body …let us draw near to God with a
sincere heart in full assurance of faith.” (Hebrews 10:19-22)
Holy of Holies is a representation of heaven itself, God’s dwelling
place, which we have access now through Christ. In Revelations,
John’s vision of heaven — the New Jerusalem — also was a perfect
square, just as the Holy of Holies was (Revelation 21:16).
Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of
the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in
God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and
again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year
with blood that is not his own. …But now he has appeared once for
all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of
himself.” (Hebrews 9:24-26)