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Matthew 27:53

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53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

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The Veil was Torn in Two

By New Christian Bible Study Staff

Photo by Rezha-fahlevi from Pexels

When Jesus died on the cross, there was an earthquake. Rocks were split. The centurion and his soldiers who had carried out the crucifixion orders were afraid.

In the heart of the temple, in the "holy of holies", in the very heart of Jerusalem, the sacred veil tore, from top to bottom.

The veil, "rent in twain"...

The veils in the tabernacle and later in the temple were important. They're described in great detail in Exodus and in 1 Kings. In Arcana Coelestia 2576, it says that, "Rational truths are a kind of veil or clothing to spiritual truths.... The veil represented the nearest and inmost appearances of rational good and truth....

And now, as Jesus dies on the cross, the veil tears. What does this mean?

Here's how Swedenborg describes the symbolism of this:

"...that once all appearances had been dispelled, the Lord entered into the Divine Itself, and at the same time He opened a means of access to the Divine Itself through His Human that had been made Divine." (Arcana Coelestia 2576)

Think about four watershed spiritual events:

1) The creation of the physical universe. (Current best guess: 13.8 billion years ago). Genesis 1:1-10

2) The beginning of life. (On earth, between 3.5 and 4.5 billion years ago.) Genesis 1:11-25

3) The beginning of spiritually conscious human beings. (Reasonable guess: 100,000 years ago). Genesis 1:26-31

4) The incarnation and resurrection of the Lord God Jesus Christ (2000 years ago).

God's love and wisdom have been flowing into the universe for a long time. Where you might expect entropy, instead we see a universe that seems to favor life and intelligence. Think what a fulfilling moment it must have been when God could tell that human minds were now responding to Him, after all that outpouring.

But the free response-ability has tragedy baked in, because we can also choose not to respond, and to go the opposite way.

As we humans grew more "sophisticated", God used new channels to reach us, notably prophets and spiritual leaders, and later the written word. And in those channels, from the earliest times, there are already prophecies that the Lord would one day come into the world in human form.

Why did He need to do that? He must have foreseen that people would need to have that human level of connection, in order for enough good and truth to exist for us to make the decisions that open us to salvation.

Let's go back to Swedenborg's description:

"... once all appearances had been dispelled the Lord entered into the Divine Itself..."

Throughout the Lord's life on earth, there was the appearance that he was a man, like us. He had a human body. He could be tired and hungry. He could be tempted (though unlike us, he always won). In his spiritual life, there were times when he felt keenly the appearance of his human separate from his Divine essence. At other times, that appearance thinned, and he felt his divinity more powerfully. As he grew up, and was baptized, and began his ministry, he must have been growing more and more fully aware of what was going on inside him -- the glorification of the human part of him. With the death of his body on the cross, the bodily human-ness was no longer in the way. That appearance was dispelled. A new connection was fully forged between the Divine and the human.

And then, there's the second part of Swedenborg's statement:

"at the same time He opened a means of access to the Divine Itself through His Human that had been made Divine."

The veil was torn. The old religion, which had placed ritual above real good, and where God was invisible, separated from human knowledge by a veil -- was torn. New light could reach people, through the new teachings of the Lord. We could respond to a God who, in His Divine Human, we now could understand and approach and love more deeply.

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Genesis 2

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1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,

5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.

6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.

9 And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.

11 The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;

12 And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.

13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.

14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.

15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:

17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.

20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.