God instructs Moses with great detail as to the structure of the walls of the outer court and the construction of the interior building that houses the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. There are some commentators who believe that with this verbal description God may have actually shown Moses a vision or picture of the completed project. Of particular interest is the curtain that divides the two room of the building.
This curtain separated everyone from the Ark of the Covenant, which was housed in the smaller portion of the building. Once a year, the high priest would be allowed behind that curtain into the Holy of Holies to put sacrificial blood onto the Mercy Seat; that spot between the two cherubim on the lid of the Ark. This entrance into the Holy Place is still celebrated by Jews on their most important day, Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). For Christians, this curtain is significant for another reason. When Jesus died, that curtain was torn in two, from the top down. Because of Jesus atoning death, God is present and person with all of us. There is no longer any separation between us.
And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.
We no longer have to wait for an annual celebration to approach God. He is available to all who would believe in Him. King David foreshadowed this event when He brought the Ark of Covenant back into Jerusalem after it had been carried off by Israel’s enemies. When David returned the Ark, he set it up on a hill where everyone could see it! This was a bold move. It was later returned to the situation in which we find it in our reading for today, but for a time, the representation of God’s presence was right there for all to see.
We can never take for granted the fact that we live on this side of the crucifixion of Jesus. God is forever available to us and that is a gift of immeasurable worth.