Saturday, December 29, 2012

From the Top Down

When Christ died on the cross for the payment of our sins, a most unusual event occurred in the Tabernacle in Jerusalem  The veil was torn from the top down.
"Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.”  And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.  And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom" (Matt.27:45-51).
The veil was about 60 feet high, 30 feet wide and four inches thick. To be torn from top down would have been clearly understood as something accomplished only miraculously by God.  To be torn from the top down demonstrated that our separation from God was overcome by His grace through Christ.
Rev. Andrew Frank Whitlock (circa 1980)
I was reminded again of this truth during a visit to Fletcher Oklahoma today, where I met a woman who when she was in her twenties, lived next to my great granddaddy Whitlock. He had been long since retired as the pastor of First Baptist there in Fletcher and was in his nineties.  
On his daily walks, he would regularly stop at her house to witness to her.  She would apparently explain her work-based theology to him as he would instead try to persuade her from the Scriptures that salvation was by grace through faith.
During one such visit, she told me that he asked her for a piece of paper.  He made a drawing of the veil that hung in the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle. Then he showed her how it had been torn from the top down. 
She looked at me and with excitement that still resonated from the truth that she comprehended that day long ago, exclaimed, "From the top down!" 
How that ministered to her is evident in her eventual salvation and ongoing service at the church there in Fletcher. I very much enjoyed hearing her story and was reminded again of what a great man was Rev. A. F. Whitlock. And of what a great Savior we have in Jesus!

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