“The veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.” – Matthew 27:51
The veil was the symbol of separation from God. In the Holy of holies behind it was the place where God’s presence dwelt. Men could not pass the veil. The teaching was that God could not be approached by sinners; the way was not yet opened. Once in a year the high priest went behind the veil, implying that there was access to God, but only through a priest. He went with blood — never without it — signifying that only by blood, by sacrifice, could God be approached. The priest was a type of Christ, and his yearly entrance with blood into the Holy of holies was a constant prefigurement of Christ’s once entering with his own blood to make atonement.
The rending of this veil at the time of Christ’s death was not an accident caused by the earthquake. It was part of the symbolism — the end, the completion of it. Men were no longer to be excluded from God’s presence, since the great sacrifice had now been made. The separating wall had been broken down by Christ’s death. Hence the symbol of this separation was also removed. This rending of the veil was therefore a supernatural act, teaching that the way of access to God was now and for ever open to all.
The fact that the veil was rent from top to bottom (that is, torn in two pieces) signifies that the way is entirely opened — the veil is clean gone; the Holiest of all stands wide open with its mercy-seat accessible to every sinner, without the intervention of any earthly priest. The time at which this rending took place is important. It was just after Christ had died — after he had cried, “It is finished.” It was because the great atonement was now made that the way was opened; as soon as the sacrifice had been made, the way to God was thrown open to all.