As I continue what has of late been a very intriguing annual read through scripture, I am struck by the concept of a veil.
My simple understanding of the old Jewish temple leads me to believe that what was described in Moses' day as necessary to cover his face, such as to veil from view the radiance of God, protecting a lesser man from an awesome and fearfully righteous God was deployed later in construction of the tabernacle, then still yet, preserved in the temple as a fearful reminder of the magnificence of Jehovah.
Likely the fearful part was more ignorance on the part of beings only a few generations from idolatry, than what this Yahweh as later demonstrated in the Christ desired in terms of relationship. Another time, we see Moses being placed in the cleft of a rock, limiting his view as God passed by. Was all this God simply unfolding a story that would require millenia for we humans to understand?
Were all of these myths simply religion's way of attempting to describe an unexplainable majesty, this Being we call God, as gently as possible, using astoundingly dreadful types and shadows slowly communicating an existing realm beyond our comprehension?
Religion seems our best attempts at explaining something that brute beasts never struggle with, yet we humans seem to yearn for. Of necessity perhaps, we come up with means to demonstrate our hopes and fears, our loyalties and worship, desperately trying to communicate the unknowns for which we hope.
Meanwhile out of our struggle has come millenia of writings, script that tells a seamless story, describing even geographically where and how that story will unfold...a babe in Bethlehem. Were it not for that, the faith which has come to be known as Christianity would be just one more myth among the many.
Therefore it would seem, that just as we struggle with the formation of the galaxies, be it by way of mere happenstance, Big Bang versus, the acts of an intelligent Creator, it might be fair for us to assume that some One has also been steering our religious thoughts through the ages.
How else could something play out so methodical as when these previously child sacrificing idolators began to arrest their hideous need to appease an unseen God, their idiocy toward mistaking volcanic eruptions for his/her wrath, coming rather to align with the concept of a lovibg God who would provide a sustitutional ram, even an innocent and perfect lamb. They as methodically moved away from holding up a snake on a tree to assuage God's curse, then both lamb and snake, righteousness and evil, all begin to foretell a prophecy so graphically detailed in the Psalms and later by Isaiah, of a man lifted up in agony on a cross, before crucifixion was ever invented. You can't make this stuff up!
Who is this vieled behind the scenes Being, that religion has demontrated in a way that represents some Divinely directed drama now played out, describing a reality yet to be seen by human eye, which some refer to as a Third Heaven. Not one so dreadful as some religions foretell, but a place that we all long for as we pass through this broken life, adrift among galaxies, yet our globe so fixed by physics that unlike so many others is a habitation for humans, uniquely vulnerable but yet we dwell in an amazingly sustainable ecosystem.
Something seems veiled from our hearts that our mind's best efforts can only address as religion. Our best minds at times deny the possibilities, yet most struugle again as they near death.
You have heard it said that rocks were torn apart and the temple veil rent top to bottom when Christ died. Death is a powerful reality that this religious symbolism seems imply was stripped of its threat, a message that seems to align with a deep seated hope of some after-life, as was aluded to often by the Christ: "In my Father's house are many mansions...perhaps the Webb telescope is now providing a glimpse of something still yet veiled?
The veil I referenced earlier was one that hid the High Priest from view once he entered the Holy of Holies (see Hebrews 8). Again, it would be hard for frail humans to make this stuff up, let alone control the passage of time and tale over millinea to the detail later revealed in the birth, death and ressurection of the Christ.
So what is the meaning of the veil, to me it is death itself. If the point was simply about God ruling the Earth, which is what early religious practicioners, peasants, priests and prophets sought, he would have called down legions angels, avoided death and began the reign they all hoped for. Instead he allowed mankind to execute a hideous crucifixion and then defied death. The messsage of the veil that was torn is death itself, now more passage than some final and feared defeat.
There is a day coming when unlike Moses in his frail and fearful relationship with God, we will be with God, as was attempted in the Genesis story, using terms like garden, fruit and a serpent to describe our falleness. Again, perhaps at best religious speak for something yet veiled from the human mind, but so often understood as we sit with loved ones passing through that veil.
My own grandfather mouthing the words, "I didn't expect to see you, Clyde." The son he had lost at the early age of sixteen to pneumonia. Apparently, Clyde waiting on the other side of the veil.
This life, shrouded from the deepest of spiritual realities, adrift in a sea of galaxies will one day afford us opportunity to step into what religion only symbolizes, though always having been meticulously guided by a Being who is love, whom I commune as I read each morning.