In the Old Testament we read about sacred construction for God’s people. In the time of Moses, a Tabernacle or large tent was built with God giving instruction about its formation. Its creative design artistically gave a specific message from God. It represented the place of meeting between God and humanity. It was portable and went everywhere that God’s people were led as a community. God did not need a tent, but the people did. They needed a physical protocol in place to help them in their approach to the Almighty. This is where the holy reminders were kept—the Ark of the Covenant containing the stone tablets of the Law. Everything in the Tabernacle was in place to remove sin from the people and worship God.
Within this revival tent, there was an inner sanctum called the Holy of Holies. It was separated from the outer areas by a linen curtain. The Ark of the Covenant was placed in this most holy area.
Later, King Solomon built the Temple to bring a permanent place for these purposes. As the Tabernacle served a people looking for their place in the world, the Temple spoke to people who had found the Promised Land and settled there. The Temple was patterned in similar fashion to the Tabernacle, but its construction was more durable and permanent. Again the Holy of Holies was contained with a fabric curtain; marking this area as the closest place the High Priest could go to offer sacrifice to God. It was here that God’s Shekinah glory would appear to the High Priest.
It was this curtain around the Holy of Holies that tore in two during Christ’s suffering on the Cross. What are we to learn about suffering from the tearing curtain?
First of all, the tearing of one’s garments was a sign of grief. When things were offensive to God or brought great sorrow, the outer garment would be torn to show that there was reason to mourn. Was the curtain around the Holy of Holies our way to clothe God? Did God tear His clothes at grief over the Son’s betrayal and suffering?
We also see that the safe way of containing God in a Temple was insufficient. God is not restricted to the protocols of approach. Every Tabernacle eventually wore out and every Temple was tore down by enemies.
There is another Temple that Paul tells us about.
In the tearing of the Temple curtain, we see that God entered into the Suffering of the Son. Perhaps in our human suffering, there is an element of the curtain being torn. The human grief is a tearing that releases God from the ways we have contained Him. He will not remain apart from us, but enter into our bodies declaring us His Holy of Holies.
Within your body God keeps the Ark of the Covenant with its sacred Law and appears in His Shekinah glory.