Two Screens and One Veil (2)
The three entrances, one to the outer court, one to the holy place, and one to the holy of holies, represent the entryways into the three stages God intends for every Christian’s growth in life.
Passing the first screen brings us into the first stage—judicial redemption. All who are regenerated have a union with God in life. As the apostle John wrote, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are” (1 John 3:1).
Passing the second screen brings us into the second stage—organic salvation. All Christians who enter the holy place are mingled with God in nature. Unfortunately, not all Christians choose to pass through this second screen. To enter the holy place, we need to be priests, those who love God absolutely and are consecrated to serve only Him. If this is not our case we will always remain outside in the outer court.
Like a newborn, our regeneration gave us a new life that started out immature. And like that baby, we need to grow and mature; as we do, we partake of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4). The growth of Christ in us causes us to become one with Him. Thus, over time and through many experiences, we become mingled with Him in nature.
Finally, passing through the veil brings us to the third stage, the experience of the holy of holies. This experience is for mature Christians who have been incorporated with God in His person. It was in the holy of holies that the high priest stood alone before God, having direct communion with Him. It was here that he interceded for all the people of God and received God’s speaking on their behalf.
To be incorporated with another in person is more easily understood if we consider a couple who have been married for a long time. Such a couple often even look much the same. They know one another so well that each can anticipate what the other desires and out of love act accordingly. What the wife likes, the husband likes, and what the husband likes, the wife likes. What one pays attention to, the other does also, because they are interwoven in their person. It’s not just that they have the same life and nature, but they are incorporated in person. It takes many years of troublesome married life to arrive at such an intimate relationship, and it takes many years of struggling with the Lord to have a life with Him in the holy of holies.
An Artistic Work
“You shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen; it shall be made with cherubim, the work of a skillful workman. You shall hang it on four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold, their hooks also being of gold, on four sockets of silver. You shall hang up the veil under the clasps, and shall bring in the ark of the testimony there within the veil; and the veil shall serve for you as a partition between the holy place and the holy of holies” (Exo. 26:31-33).
In principle, the veil is made of the same material as the curtains. The only difference is that upon the veil there are cherubim, made as an artistic work. God’s testimony is more than judicial redemption represented by the outer court, and it is even more than organic salvation represented by the holy place.
To Enter the Holy of Holies Requires a Work of Art
Many Bible translations say that this veil shall be something like the work of “skillful workman.” However, it is better to follow Darby’s translation: “And thou shalt make a veil of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and twined byssus; of artistic work shall it be made, with cherubim”. Note that Darby translates that the veil was to be made “of artistic work.” Not only does this translation present exactly what the Hebrew word means, it also catches the spirit behind it.
God desires this piece of artwork. While some would say rightly that the whole physical universe is a divine work of art, God says that this is not good enough. He desires to see His artwork displayed through the church and through the individual members of the church. Paul wrote that “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:10). Eventually we will each be able to look back at our whole life and say, “What a journey my Christian life has been. Look at where I started and look at where God has brought me. What a piece of artwork He has produced! Glory to God!”
Cherubim—a Type of Christ and of Christ’s Work On Man
Cherubim are angels, even chief angels, surrounding the throne of God. For example, the four living creatures found in Ezekiel are cherubim (Ezek. 10:15, 20). They adore God, honor God for who He is, and their word is “Holy, Holy, Holy!” (Rev. 4:8), which means, “Only God! Only God! Only God!”
These cherubim operate to carry our God’s eternal plan. That is why each creature has four faces (Ezek. 1:10), which typify the four aspects of the Lord Jesus Christ, and indicate the four basic commitments that the church, the body of Christ, should bear.
In Matthew, Christ is the king—the lion.
In Mark, Christ is a slave—the ox.
In Luke, Christ is a man—the man.
In John, Christ is God—the eagle.
The four living creatures worship God, adore God, and also cooperate with God’s chosen people in His economy. They lead God’s people to see heavenly things (Ezek. 1:22), and to Christ Himself (Ezek.1:26). In turn, they lead us into all kinds of interactions with God in His warmness, tenderness, and mercy, represented by their covering wings.
The man’s face shows Christ working on us to produce a real man, not only with God’s likeness, but also with God’s image, bearing His divine life, nature, and even the person of Jesus Christ.
The lion’s face indicates the ruling of Christ, encouraging us to fight for the interest of God and wrestle “against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).
The ox’s face indicates the serving of Christ, enabling us to live a life of laboring, unknown, in hardships often, in watchings often, in thirst and in hunger, in cold and in nakedness, and wandering without a home (see 1 Cor. 4:11 and 2 Cor. 11:26).
The eagle’s face indicates that the divine Christ gives us an eagle’s life even in the midst of all our outward pressures and distresses. No matter what we pass through and no matter how dark things seem, we can still be heavenly, standing with the Lord in the heavenly places, above everything and looking down upon everything with a heavenly view.
Christ—The First Magnificent Work of Art
The first cherub on the veil was a type of Christ. What a process God took Him through to become such a work of art: God became a man, lived in poor and base Galilee, was persecuted by religious people who studied the word of God (the Pharisees), by those who had no belief (the Sadducees), and by the government. He then died a horrible death on the cross, took a tour of Hades, and resurrected and ascended to be the king of the universe. If we see this whole picture, we will say, “Only God, the wise God, the mighty God, the omnipresent and omniscient God, can produce such a piece of artwork!” That work is the self-existing God producing Himself through His creation—the man Jesus.
Christ in Us—Another Magnificent Work of Art
However, there is not only one cherub on the veil. While the first cherub typifies Christ, the Bible uses the plural form, cherubim, when describing the veil. This indicates that God desires to reproduce Christ again and again in fallen man. Yes, we are sinners, but we are saved by grace, and that grace continues to work in us until we match Christ.
What an artistic work this is! We fallen men, with our fallen nature, living in time and in space, are able to gain eternal life and pursue eternity in such a short life time. Eventually, we are able not only to live Christ, but to magnify Him. What a piece of artwork—amazing, astonishing, and beautiful to the uttermost! If you have a full view of the church, you will rise up, shout, and adore God as the cherubim did, crying, “Holy! Holy! Holy!”
Growth Through the Veil
We have to worship God. We are justified by passing through the first screen into the outer court. Then we are sanctified and conformed to Him by entering the holy place through the second screen, where we enjoy Christ and the divine church life. Eventually, we become the golden incense altar, standing before the veil, with our only aim being God and His testimony. Praise the Lord, we have now moved into the Holy of Holies to be so one with God.
When God unveiled the tabernacle, He started from the ark of testimony and worked His way out. When we grow in the Lord, we begin outside the tabernacle and work our way in through the screens and the veil and become one with the ark of testimony. What an amazing process!