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Looking Unto Jesus

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    15 SPECIAL OBJECTIONS CONSIDERED

    1. - WITHIN THE VAIL

    CONCLUSIVE proof has been offered that Christ commenced his ministry in the first apartment of the heavenly sanctuary, and answers have been given to some of the less weighty objections which are offered against that view. A few more points remain to be noticed.LUJ 126.1

    Paul’s testimony in Hebrews 6:19, 20, is quoted to prove that when Christ ascended, he must have entered into the most holy place: “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the vail; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high Priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.”LUJ 126.2

    The claim here instituted is that “the vail,” within which Christ has entered, signifies the vail dividing between the holy and most holy places; and if Christ entered within that vail when he ascended, or if he was there when Paul wrote, he was in the most holy place.LUJ 126.3

    If we grant this claim, some conclusions follow which demand consideration. If there is a vail dividing between the holy and most holy places, which the foregoing claim admits, then there is somewhere a holy place as well as a most holy. But if the most holy is all heaven, where Christ has entered, then what and where is the holy place? It must be something outside of heaven. What, then, is it? Is it this earth, as some contend? If it is anything outside of heaven, it must be; for this is the only place with which we have anything to do this side of heaven. Then what is the vail dividing between earth and heaven? To say that it is the sky reduces the type to an absurdity.LUJ 126.4

    But, further, the holy place, in the sanctuary, was twice as large as the most holy; and if the earth is the holy place of the true sanctuary, and heaven the most holy, it follows, the proportion being maintained, that this little diminutive earth, of which it would take two hundred and fifty-two thousand to equal the bulk of the sun, is twice as large as all heaven!LUJ 127.1

    And, still further, in fulfilment of the type, Christ must perform a portion of his ministry in the holy place. If this is the earth, he should have performed a portion of his ministry here. But Paul says explicitly that he could not be a priest upon earth; for there was another order of priests appointed to do all the work of this kind that was to be done on the earth. Hebrews 8:4. And he says again that while the earthly tabernacle stood, while any service of that kind was performed here, the way into the holy places, both the holy and the most holy of the heavenly sanctuary, was not made manifest or laid open. Hebrews 9:8.LUJ 127.2

    In view of these facts, it is pertinent to inquire, Does the word “vail” in Hebrews 6:19, mean the second vail? and the answer is, No; and this will be proved to the satisfaction of every candid mind. There are but two words rendered vail in the New Testament. These are kalumma and katapeta. The first occurs four times only, in verses 13, 14, and 15 and 16 of 2 Corinthians 3, referring to the vail over Moses’s face. The second is used six times, once each by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, all in reference to the vail of the temple which was rent in twain whenLUJ 127.3

    Christ expired upon the cross (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45); and three times by Paul in the book of Hebrews; namely, 6:19; 9:3; and 10:20. Is there anything peculiar in Paul’s use of this word in Hebrews? - Yes; when he means the second vail he specifies it. Hebrews 9:3: “And after the second vail, the tabernacle which is called the holiest of all.” Now if the term, “the vail,” was used to signify invariably the second vail, why did Paul use the term “second”? Why did he not say, here, simply, “and after the vail:”? - Because a second must imply a first, and he well understood that there was at the entrance to the tabernacle a hanging, which was just as much a vail as that which divided between the holy and the most holy; and to carry out his purpose of instruction in reference to the sanctuary, which is one of Paul’s great objects in the book of Hebrews, he accurately distinguishes between the two; and when he means the second, he says the second.LUJ 128.1

    This word “vail,” katapeta, is defined in Robinson’s Greek Lexicon of the New Testament as follows: “A covering, vail, which hangs down. In the Septuagint, a vail, curtain, of the tabernacle and temple, of which there were two; namely, one at the entrance of the outer sanctuary (Hebrew, rmm, Septuagint, katapeta, Exodus 26:36; 40:5; Jos. B.J. 5.5.4); and the other before the holy of holies, separating it from the outer sanctuary.”LUJ 128.2

    Here is good testimony that the same word is used to designate both hangings, the one at the door, and the other in the interior of the sanctuary. In the Hebrew, in Exodus 35:12; 39:34; 40:21; and Numbers 4:5, both the terms that are used for hanging and vail are joined together to designate the inner vail before the most holy place, and it is called the vail of the covering. The Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature by M’Clintock and Strong, under the term “Hanging,” says:-LUJ 128.3

    “The hanging was a curtain or covering (as the word radically means, and as it is sometimes rendered) to close an entrance. It was made of variegated stuff wrought with needlework (compare Esther 1:6), and (in one instance at least) was hung on five pillars of acacia wood. The term is applied to a series of curtains suspended before the successive openings of entrance into the tabernacle and its parts. Of these, the first hung before the entrance to the court of the tabernacle (Exodus 27:15; 38:18; Numbers 4:26); the second before the door of the tabernacle (Exodus 26:36, 37; 39:38); and the third before the entrance to the most holy place, called, more fully, vail of the covering. Exodus 35:12; 39:34; 40:21.”LUJ 129.1

    These quotations furnish sufficient evidence that the covering of the outer entrance to the tabernacle was a vail, as well as that which hung before the most holy place. The same Greek word and the same Hebrew word are applied to both.LUJ 129.2

    The point now to be ascertained is, In what sense does Paul use the term, “the vail”? All hangs on the answer to this question, as he is the one who makes use of the language now under examination. As has been mentioned, with the single exception of the three references by the evangelists to the vail, on the day of the crucifixion, Paul is the only New Testament writer who makes use of the term. And in accordance with the accuracy with which he is writing, he finds it necessary to discriminate between the two. And inasmuch as he once specifies the second vail when he refers to that, we must understand him as referring to the first vail when not thus specified. To understand otherwise, is to charge Paul with a degree of looseness in his writings altogether unpardonable in a man of his ability and education, and altogether unaccountable in one who wrote, moreover, by the inspiration of God.LUJ 129.3

    It may therefore be confidently asserted that it matters not how other writers use the term. The evangelists by “the vail” may mean the vail before the holy of holies, as they doubtless do; and if other writers had used it in the same sense a thousand times, it would in nowise affect the case in hand; for Paul has shown us plainly how he uses the term, and that is all we have to know, to understand his writings in reference to it. And when he means the second vail, he says explicitly, “the second vail:” and when he does not specify, he must mean the only remaining one, which is the first.LUJ 130.1

    Now, as final and conclusive proof that this is so, the reader is requested to turn to Hebrews 10:19, 20: “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest [Greek, holies, plural,] by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, his flesh.” Paul here assures us that Christ by his flesh, his sacrifice, has consecrated a new and living way for us through the vail. And into what does that way through the vail lead? Into the holy places, plural, both of them, the holy as well as the most holy. Therefore to go into the holy place, or first apartment, is to go through or “within” the vail, as Paul uses the term. And this passage is exactly parallel with Hebrews 6:19, 20. Christ, our forerunner, is entered within the vail, to make this living way for us into the holy places. But Christ does not minister in, nor open the way for us into, both of the places at once. This would outrage all order, and do violence to the type. He ministers in the first apartment till that department of the work is finished, then goes within the “second” vail, to accomplish the last division of his solemn work, which is to cleanse the sanctuary, and make once for all a disposition of the sins of those who have sought pardon through his blood.LUJ 130.2

    Here are harmony, reason, and Scripture, a divine triumvirate, to oppose which it would seem that one must deliberately close his eyes to the light.LUJ 131.1

    A slight transposition of Hebrews 10:19, 20, will show that Paul by the term “vail,” there refers to the literal vail of the sanctuary, and not to Christ’s flesh; but Christ’s flesh, or his sacrifice, is the new and living way which he hath consecrated for us. Thus: “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter through the vail into the holy places, by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he hath consecrated for us, that is to say, his flesh.”LUJ 131.2

    It will be noticed that Paul in the epistle to the Hebrews, goes back invariably to the tabernacle as erected by Moses, not to the sanctuary as embodied in the temple. On this he founds all his illustrations, and makes his declarations. In the time of Christ it is said that the opening to the holy place was composed of huge folding doors; and the only vail was that which hung between the holy and the most holy place. This will explain why the evangelists refer to that by the single words, “the vail;” for there was no other. But Paul, in Hebrews 6:19, 20, draws his illustration from the tabernacle of Moses, which had a vail for the door of the holy place, as well as a vail for a door to the most holy place. Hence “within the vail,” in Hebrews 6:19, 20 means only past the first vail, or door, into the holy place.LUJ 131.3

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