BEHIND THE VEIL
During those 4,000 years of separation from mankind, the presence of God on earth lived in a box—the Ark of the Covenant. He had to separate Himself because we humans, in our sinful condition, could no longer meet face to face with Him.
Throughout the Old Testament the Israelites would often carry the ark with them into battle, which would guarantee their victory. When not being carried into battle, the Ark was housed in the tabernacle or the temple, in the center of Jewish life. God still wanted to be in the center of His people’s lives, but He had to stay removed from them, dwelling behind a curtain in the Holy of Holies.
The Holy of Holies was the inner room of the Tabernacle. It’s where God’s presence dwelt on the Mercy Seat. The veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple signified that man was separated from God by sin (Isaiah 59:1-2). Only the high priest was permitted to pass beyond this veil once each year on the Day of Atonement, where he spread the blood of a spotless lamb, symbolically bringing reconciliation between the people and God, (because it’s only through the offering of blood that the condemnation of the Law could be taken away and violations of God’s laws covered).
On that Day of Atonement, the people had to wait outside the tabernacle to see if God would accept the sacrifice of blood and their sins would be atoned for the year. That’s as close to God as humans could get.
There was separation because of sin. God was inside and man was outside. Mankind bore the shame and the bondage of our sin. No matter how hard we tried, we couldn’t do right, we couldn’t cleanse ourselves from our sin nature. But in Ezekiel 36 our heavenly Father was looking forward to the time when One would come to redeem us:
Think about being separated from your loved ones for 4,000 years. That’s the picture of God throughout the Old Testament. He longed for the restoration of the fellowship He used to have with His creation. That’s why He was working a plan to redeem us. And what a wonderful plan it turned out to be!