The recurring theme for me in preparation of our celebration of the Resurrection this year has been for the joy set before Him (Heb 12:2).  Everything He did, all He suffered, ultimately resulted in joy.  The joy was the restoring of the relationship between God and people.  When we celebrate the Resurrection we are celebrating the removal of the barrier that separated us from Him – a barrier we put up, but are completely incapable of taking down.

            No better symbol for this barrier was the curtain that separated the Holy Place of the Temple from the Most Holy Place.  The Most Holy Place was a section in the very back of the Temple; the only thing that was supposed to be in this room was the Ark of the Covenant.  There is no mention of the Ark after the Babylonian Captivity, so in the new Temple built by Zerubbabel, it is said they raised the floor where the Ark should have been.  The cover of the Ark was called the Mercy Seat.  The Mercy Seat had two angels, each made from a single piece of hammered gold, on either end facing inward.  God declared that the Mercy Seat was where He would be to speak to us. (Ex 25:22).

            Because of our sinfulness, no one was allowed in that place. Death was the consequence.  There was a curtain, said to be a handbreadth thick,  separating God from us.    Only one person (the High Priest) was able to go into that room – and only one time a year; on Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement).  Before the High Priest was able to enter, he had to observe an involved ritual designed to atone for his own sin.  Some teach that the people went so far as to tie a rope around one of his ankles, so if he blew it and God struck him dead, they could pull him out.  Part of the High Priestly “uniform” had bells sewn into the hem. If the people heard the bells as he walked – he was good; if the bells stopped…

            Be that as it may, the moment Jesus died, that curtain (which was about 4 inches THICK) was torn, from top to bottom (Mt 27:51).  There is no way for that to have been human-caused (the timing of it aside).  The separation between God and people had been eliminated; the curtain (the symbol of that separation) was no longer necessary.  Hebrews 4:16 tells us to go boldly into the throne room of Grace.  The implication is because of what Jesus did for us, we now belong there.

            And THAT is pure joy for God.