Vail (or Veil)
Robert Hawker | Added: Jan 11, 2023 | Category: Theology
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I think it right to stop at this word, because we meet with it very often in the Scripture, though it is to be lamented that our little acquaintance with the customs of the people of the East makes us lose numberless beauties in the sacred volume, when we meet with expressions of a local nature, for want of being acquainted with their manners and customs.
The vails worn by the women, were chiefly, no doubt, intended for the concealment of their persons. Female children wear no vails, we are told by the historians of those countries, until they had arrived at seven or eight years of age; after that, if a woman was seen uncovered, it became the mark of a woman of ill-fame. Hence Rebekah put on the vail on her approach to Isaac (Genesis 24:65). And Tamar disguised herself with her vail (Genesis 38:14). Indeed, so much the use of vails was observed in the eastern world, that the married women, it is said, were never seen, even in their families, without the Radid, as they called the married vail.
These things, will, in some measure, serve to explain those passages in the apostle Paul’s writings to the Corinthians of the women praying or prophesying uncovered, that is, unvailed, because it implied the want of chastity. And this one circumstance alone leads us into a proper apprehension of the apostle’s whole discourse (see 1 Corinthians 11:3-15).
There is a great beauty in that passage of the Song of Solomon respecting the church, which, if explained to us in allusion to the custom of vails, becomes very sweet and interesting. ‘The watchmen (said she) that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me: the keepers of the walls took away my vail from me’ (Song of Solomon 5:7). If the reader enters into the full apprehension of the custom of the vail, he will consider the spouse of Christ as here clothed with her Radid, her marriage vail, shewing who she was, and that she was in subjection to her own husband, (Ephesians 5:23, 24) seeking Him in the ordinances, which are here called the streets of the city, where she ought to seek Him; and the watchmen, the ministers of the gospel, found her in this enquiry, but instead of comforting her with some new and sweet view of her Lord, speaking to her in her then dispirited case and circumstances, in shewing her the safety of a soul justified in Christ’s blood and righteousness, however dark and uncomfortable in herself; instead of this, time keepers took away her vail, her covering in Christ, treated her as if a strumpet, as though she was not married to Jesus, and had no right to the Radid, or marriage vail.
I pause over this view of the subject to ask my own heart, while I desire the reader to consult his own also, whether this treatment may not in the present hour be too often shewn to the church, the spouse of Christ, in numberless instances of the individual members of His mystical body, when ministers, watchmen, and keepers of the walls of Zion, instead of strengthening seeking souls in the Lord Jesus’s blood and righteousness, are taking away their confidence in Him, to direct them in seeking somewhat in themselves. Oh, how little do the best-taught ministers of Christ know of their people’s sorrows, and of Jesus’s all-suitableness and all-sufficiency! But to take away the believer’s Radid, her marriage vail, her wedding garment, her nuptial band, in Christ, oh! what a wounding, what smiting, of a poor sin-sick soul must this be! And it is possible yea, more than possible, that Christ’s own ministers may but too often fall into this error, when, instead of making Christ what God the Father had made Him, the Alpha and Omega of His church, they are directing their people to somewhat besides Jesus for comfort and consolation. The general direction to what is called experience, by way of confidence, is a sad instance of this kind.
While speaking of vails, I must not forget to notice the vail of the temple, which was appointed by the Lord to separate the outer place where the daily service was performed from the holy of holies, into which the high priest entered once in a year, on the great day of atonement. We have the account of it, Exodus 26:1-37 etc. Leviticus 16:1-34, and these Scriptures are again blessedly explained to the church by the Holy Ghost, Hebrews 9:1-12.
That this vail was figurative and typical, need not be insisted upon. The most superficial attention to Scripture very fully shews this. The human nature of the Lord Jesus was no doubt represented by the temple itself; hence Jesus spake of the temple of His body (John 2:9-22). And the vail of the temple, forming a separation, and none but the high priest passing within it, and that only once in a year, and even not without blood, those were too striking particularities not to be understood as pointing to Him who hath entered with His own blood into ‘heaven itself, there to appear in the presence of God for us’.
But the fullest and most delightful explanation of the vail of the temple, was given in the moment of our Lord’s death on the cross; for when the Lord Jesus bowed His sacred head, and gave up the ghost, instantly, we are told, the vail of the temple was rent in twain, by some invisible hand, from the top to the bottom; thus signifying that now, from the highest heaven to the lowest earth, Jesus had opened a new and living way by His blood, and was now not only entered Himself within the vail, but as our forerunner, and that we should assuredly follow Him, that ‘where He is there we might be also’.
And as Jesus had now opened a new and living way for His people, so He had broken down all the vails of separation between Himself and His redeemed The Jew and the Gentile were now brought into one fold, the vail of mysteries, of ordinances, of darkness, of ignorance, of blindness, in short the vail of all obstructions was now no more. Jesus had now, agreeably to His prophecy, destroyed in His holy mountain the church ‘the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that was spread over all nations’ (Isaiah 25:7).
And it is a sweet addition to all those precious views of the Lord Jesus removing every vail in His church, when He hath in the heart of His redeemed also taken away the vail of unbelief, and opened, to the soul’s comfort, sweet and soul-ravishing views of His own person and glory. Reader, think what a glorious object will that day, that wonderful day, open to the soul, when Jesus, removing the last vail of death, shall appear in all His beauty to take home His redeemed to Himself, and when they, awakening up after His likeness, shall be fully and eternally satisfied with His presence for ever.
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