That which is about to be revealed in the theater, begins with the dramatic lights shone on the curtain. The audience lights are dimmed, the music starts and the curtain splits apart to reveal the beginning of anticipated curiosity that is developed as the understanding of the plot.
The Hebrew plot, defined as God’s continuing determination to deal with the people He chose to work out His earthly intentions, was in a constant state of confused or rebellious reaction to the leaders who came and went as God’s messengers. An integral part of Hebrew expectation, as taught by one generation to the next, was the manner in which God dealt with sinful behavior.
Through a long historical relationship that included providing a king to rule over them, the people, even though having been told that God had made no provision for such, persisted. In time, King David, a popular personage with his people died and his son, Solomon, ascended to the throne. God chose him to build a temple and the people were to understand that where once His presence was centered in the portable Ark of the Covenant, it would now be felt in the temple.
The provision of God, designed as forgiveness for sins committed by His people, included an annual ritual that involved the high priest. It was he, and he alone, who could enter the “Holy of Holies,” where the presence of God was revered. He took a carefully selected lamb into that sacred place and as he walked among the people, they moved aside to allow him an approach to the curtain that was always drawn across the entry of the sacred room. Upon his arrival, he would kill the lamb, let the blood spill onto the altar and pray that the sacrifice would appease God and that the sins of the people would be forgiven. Having done this, he would exit through the curtain and the people, seeing him with blood on his hands, would no doubt breathe a sign of relief.
The curtain was a constant reminder that it stood between God and His people. There was a distance between them, like a deep chasm, and none of them could cross it. The fall of Adam and Eve began the breach and sin, after years of Divine presence, had created a mass of land upon which the people lived, but they were isolated from the Creator.
God could have continued that ritual. He had continued it for many generations and in spite of His best efforts, allowing mankind to choose freely what they would embrace and reject, His people were defiant and disobedient. He could have simply destroyed them, moved to another people or planet and started over, but He didn’t. He could, of course, but he didn’t.
Within the mystery of God’s love, and His dogged determination to provide a way for His people to approach Him, He chose to end this ritualistic clinging to the law that had been given to Moses and had not worked. In a stunning revelation of events, we clearly see that God chose to bridge that chasm. With that in mind, and reading the record left for us, we can envision God walking toward the closed curtain with a sacrificial lamb in His arm. He, too, approached the drawn veil and went inside. Upon this altar His lamb was slain and the blood, now dripping from the body, fell upon the Roman soldiers at the foot of the cross.
This was not a lamb of the high priest, or a farmer, or of a shepherd who had cared for it from birth. This was the Lamb of God. Our imagination allows us to form our own scenarios as to what effect this slaughter had upon God, or those in the heavens who had died many years before the Lamb came into existence, but to those who believe … everything changed that day.
Before, the blood of an animal dripped upon the altar as recompense for the sins that had been committed. Now, that which dripped was the bread of life that would be extended to all those who would believe that the blood of the Lamb of God was sufficient for the removal of all sin — past, present and future.
It was here that one could almost hear God speak ... ”Behold, the Lamb of God.”
And then, it happened. As the Lamb, hanging on a cross, drew the last breath, the temple’s curtain was suddenly ripped apart from the top to the bottom! There are to be no more lambs. There will be no more curtains … no more sacrifices … and finally, no more separation.
“Jesus again gave a loud cry and breathed His last. Then the curtain hanging in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” (Matthew 27:50-51, partial).
The lights came up, the music started and it was curtain time.