The girl across the row from me was nearly in tears. She’d shown her handiwork to the teacher of sewing up a comb case (who ever used a comb case???) and had it thrown back at her for the third time. She was unpicking her stitches yet again, when she begged me, “Jeannette, will you help me?” Sewing was part of my childhood life, and I was quick and neat. I took the limp, ragged cloth from her, completed the unpicking, which had got very knotted by now, and deftly completed the required overstitching. She took it back to the teacher. “Did Jeannette do this for you?” Uh-oh. How did she guess? I never saw that coming! However, the teacher was about as exasperated with the child as she had been with the sewing, and thankfully, let it pass!
Reading Exodus 26:31-35, my attention was drawn to the skilled craftsmen who embroidered the amazing curtain. This was the ‘veil’ that separated the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle. It’s counterpart in the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom at the moment when Jesus died on the cross. It represented the separation of God from sinful man. Why did God require that it be embroidered with cherubim? Wouldn’t the real angels be able to minister to him there?
Only the high priest entered through that curtain, just once a year, after much careful preparation. Yet God inhabited that place. His eyes must have gazed on that embroidery. Was it good enough? Did he see the inevitable tiny faults? Did he, in his perfection, want to throw it back at the embroiderer, and have them do it again?
In that workmanship would have been countless traces of the touch of the sewer, particles of DNA, unknown to the people, but seen by an all-seeing God. I picture God intensely aware of each tiny fragment of humanity present in that most holy place, waiting longingly for the moment in history when that curtain could be removed, because the sin that held it there had been dealt with. The very second that time came, he tore that curtain apart. God’s love could finally be poured out in full on a weary, needy world.
It’s strange how people create their own curtains – excuses to prevent them entering fully and freely into his presence. Too scared – he is so holy? Too busy? Don’t understand why God would want you to come? What is your excuse? Don’t make him wait. He doesn’t want to be separated from you any longer.