Saturday, 15 March 2014

A fading glory

In 2 Corinthians Paul contrasts the new and old covenants. The old covenant is on stone (Exodus 24:12; 31:18; 34:1, 4), the new on hearts (Ezekiel 11:19); a ministry of death compared to the ministry of the Spirit. He points out the symbolism of the veil of Moses (Exodus 34:33). As a veil obscured Moses' face, so a figurative veil obscures the truth about the new covenant from the observers of the old covenant.

What I had not noticed previously is how Paul relates the fading of the glory of Moses face. Moses face radiated because he had been in the presence of God. Moses covered his face in the presence of the people, but removed his veil in the presence of God.
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses talked with them. Afterward all the people of Israel came near, and he commanded them all that the LORD had spoken with him in Mount Sinai. And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face.

Whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he would remove the veil, until he came out. And when he came out and told the people of Israel what he was commanded, the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face was shining. And Moses would put the veil over his face again, until he went in to speak with him. (Exodus 34)
Over time Moses' face began to fade. The glory that was the Law represented by Moses' face shining was in fact a glory that was never intended to last.
The Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end. (2 Corinthians 3:7)
The glory that is the New Covenant, brought about by the Spirit, is a glory that never fades. Moses' face faded as it represented a glory that was not intended to last. At the time the Law was enacted it was temporary.
For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory. (2 Corinthians 3:9-11)

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