Q&R with Brad Jersak – “Wasn’t there separation from God before the veil was torn?”
I just finished reading A More Christlike Way. Great book. Thanks for sharing your thoughts in book form. After reading, I feel that I know you better. I loved reading the parts where you shared your personal experiences as struggles. I could relate to some of those struggles.
Susie and I have been discussing the idea of separation from God. We know that we are not separated but something that puzzles us is why was the veil in the temple rent upon Christ’s death? Denied access before the cross, open access after. That appears to suggest separation. Any thoughts?
Yes, the tearing of the veil on Good Friday does seem to suggest some measure of separation.
And yet there’s the actual biblical narrative … the authors and characters continually bear witness the God who pursues, speaks, relates, saves and so on, again and again, from Adam and Eve through to the Cross. Psalm 139 expresses an intimacy with God that most Christ-followers would find enviable, 1000 years before the Cross! And most of all, wasn’t the Incarnation of Christ the absolute end of separation because of “God with us.”
What then do we make of the tearing of the veil? And what was the Holy of holies anyway, apart from a demonstration of separation?
I believe the solution begins with what the Holy of holies represents. The Holy of holies Paradise itself. When they were expelled from Eden, Adam and Eve were not separated from God, but from Paradise, where the Tree of Life would have rendered the curse of sin permanent. In the tearing of the veil, Paradise is re-opened and Christ himself becomes our Tree of Life on the Cross. His body and blood offered in the Eucharist become the fruit of that Tree and mark the restoration of our immortality by grace.
So was communion with God not available before Christ? Certainly. And maybe it was available (as with Abraham) by faith in the promise of Christ, but that promise needed to be fulfilled in real space-time history in order for the hopes of our heroes of faith to be reality. Those are my initial thoughts.
There is probably also something about the different ways and experiences we encounter God … the unveilig marked a new experience of God, reminiscent of the original Garden but better, as Paradise is not only opened up to us again, but now also dwells within us.