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The torn veil... (1)

by Gerald Fruhinsholz

The tearing of the hymen

People are familiar with the French word "hymenée", which means "marriage", but less with "hymen" from which it originates. In the female anatomy, the hymen is a small membrane which partially closes the vaginal entrance, and which, it is said, has no physiological purpose. Now, this membrane, the hymen, is broken at the time of the first sexual intercourse, bringing about a slight loss of blood. Thus, in the Middle East, the tradition of showing the blood-stained sheets existed, proving the virginity of the bride. Then it was the celebration and the source of great joy in the community!...

That helps us to become aware of the importance of "the sign of the blood" at the time of the piercing of the hymen and the prophetic import which it takes on! It is a very striking symbol: it signifies that the marriage is consummated. Those that were betrothed are now married and will only be one flesh in the mind of the Creator. The man/woman couple is God's most beautiful creation. The tearing of the hymen is the opening up to a new life, to the most important of life since by the union of the two beings, it becomes procreative. It is the door of a love before being fulfilled and flourishing, and we are going to see that this image is perfectly, biblical.

The veil of the Tabernacle

Let's risk a comparison... with the tabernacle! There is in the tent in the desert 3 curtains corresponding to the three parts of the Tabernacle, causing us to penetrate into the holy places. The first place is the courtyard accessible to the Hebrew people: there the altar on which the sacrifices and burnt offerings were made, was situated. Then, another curtain gave access to the Holy Place reserved for the Levites, where in particular the Menorah was situated. Finally, there is a third curtain which could only be entered by the high priest. There the blood of the atoning sacrifice had to be put down once a year on the Ark of the Covenant. This last veil, different from the others, was "a blue, purple and crimson veil of fine linen" (Exodus 26:31). Its name is פרכת parokhet [the parokhet also existed for the Temple: "He (Solomon) made the veil of blue, purple, crimson and fine line, and made images of cherubim on it" (2 Chronicles 3:14). The first two curtains of the Tabernacle were called masakh (this word means "protection"). And thus was the veil masakh which covered the Ark and the protecting veil of the Cloud (of God's Presence) over Israel (Psalm 105:39)].

This veil separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant was placed. The numerical value of the word parokhet is 700, denoting a powerful symbolism, 7 being the perfect figure of "God made man", strengthened by the completeness of the number 100. We are establishing the fact that the entering of this precious veil is linked to the blood which is put on the lid of the Ark of the Covenant, gaining for the people the divine favour: "He will cut the throat of the sacrificial (atoning) kid for the people, and he will bear its blood within the veil" (Leviticus 16:15).

The veil bas been torn!

In the New Covenant and Christian thought, the veil has been torn! The Bible says that "Jesus is the veil" who was pierced and died for all men: "Jesus, Having cried again with a loud voice, gave up His spirit. And just then, the veil of the Temple was torn in two, from the top to the bottom, the earth trembled, the rocks were split asunder" (Matthew 27:51). "And so therefore, brothers, we have, by means of the blood of Jesus, free access to the Holy of Holies by the new and living way which He has initiated for us through the veil, that is to say His flesh" (Hebrews 10:19-20). Let us be aware of the marvellous work of the Cross! God opened the heavens when Jesus "went through the Tabernacle" (Hebrews 9:11). He has "entered into Heaven, to present Himself on our behalf before God" (Hebrews 9:24). Hallelujah for this achievement! Jesus has brought us into intimacy with the Father, by taking upon Himself our sins and the iniquity of mankind. He is the Lamb that was slain and His shed blood opens for us the door to a life of freedom and joy. He reconciles man with his Creator.

For the Hebrew people

There is also a tearing for Israel, introducing her to a new life, and corresponding to the deliverance from Egypt, a picture of the final Deliverance with the coming of the Mashiach. When the Hebrew people, pursued by Pharaoh, had their backs against that liquid barrier that was the Red Sea, God ordered Moses: "Lift your rod, extend your hand over the sea, and rend it asunder (baqa'); and the children of Israel will go into the midst of the sea on dry land" (Exodus 14:16), Baqa' = to split, tear, make a breach, pierce, open. The term is powerful and obviously makes us think of the torn hymen. Nehemiah 9:11: "You divided the sea before them and they passed through in the midst of the sea on dry land", and Psalm 78:13: "He divided the sea and opened up a passage for them".

Let us note that the word which designates the veil of the Tabernacle, parokhet, comes from perekh, which speaks of oppression, cruelty, exhausting work. Isn't that what "Egypt" represented to the Hebrew people? The veil parokhet is synonymous with oppression, and it is from that that the Lord delivers, and from sin in general. The blood is it linked to the "tearing apart" of the Red Sea? – Yes it was poured out at the exodus from Egypt, with the lamb without blemish, and its shed blood covered the lintels of the doors, protecting Israel from certain death.

Let us pass through the stages of the Tabernacle

We have seen what the "torn veil" signifies in the New Covenant – the entrance into the freedom and fullness of life with God. How far we are from it, aren't we? It must be understood that we have different levels of understanding and also that we have the whole of our lives to get closer and closer to God and get to know Him, for that is the aim of the life of the believer. As "the torn hymen" is the symbol of the life of two which will become just one, the "torn veil" is that of a communion of mind between God and His creation, the most beautiful part – man. And so let us grow into this maturity and become "a complete man of God" (2 Timothy 3:17).

Theologically there is a gradation in the three stages of the Tabernacle corresponding to the three places – the Courtyard, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. What are its stages? Let us discover them as we go forward into the Tabernacle – "Jesus has passed through the Tabernacle" (Hebrews 9:11):

First of all, in the Courtyard, repentance which leads us to salvation (the bronze altar) and the discovery of necessary sanctification (the bowl); then in the Holy Place, the revelation of the Holy Spirit (the Menorah), service (the table for the loaves) and worship (the altar of incense). This journey of faith is never ended: we will always need to return to the first square from where we set off to get a better understanding of the importance of humility and repentance, like that of renewing our consecration and "the holiness without which no-one will see God" (Hebrews 12:14). Then there remains the final revelation, that of the Ark of the Covenant. For that, it is necessary to pass through the third and last veil and again enter the Sanctuary (the Holy of Holies).

...and let us tear, let us pierce he veil!

What is the characteristic of the third place closed off by the parokhet? It is that of the unity of God in us. By penetrating the Holy of Holies, we are touching the heart of God. We are letting our doctrinal issues and ecclesiastical quarrels fall away in the presence of God. Like Isaiah, we are falling on our knees and crying: "Have mercy, my lips are unclean!" (Isaiah 6:5). After all the terrible trials he lived through, Job will say: "My ear had heard of you; but now my eye has seen you" (Job 42:5).

"Lord what I need is a broken heart...
Give me a totally simple heart which is undivided,
which does not become inflated with knowledge,
but attaches itself to Your presence
" – Song from Corinne Lafitte (Psalm 51).

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