Hello Church Devotion Aug.26, 2013

“V” is for Veil

1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all. 3 And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. 4 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. 5Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 7 Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses' face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? 9 For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10 Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory. 12 Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, 13 not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. 14 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15 Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:1-18

Remember your Old Testament history? Specifically, Exodus 34:29ff. Where Moses came down from meeting with God on Mount Sinai? How Moses’ face shown with the glow of God’s glory and how Moses’ spoke with uncovered face to the people of Israel the words that God commanded him to say. Then, Moses would cover his face with a veil and went that way unless Moses was in the presence of the Lord or was speaking God’s Word to the people.

Much has been made of this veiling of Moses. One of the reasons for the veiling of Moses was that the people in their sinfulness are terrified to see a manifestation of God’s glory. Oh yes, we see that too in our own lives. How terrifying it is to have God look into the wholeness of our lives. Our holy God, indeed, has entrance to the horrors of our sinfulness and to see our shameful thoughts, our lustful emotions, and our hateful actions towards others. We may forget this, but the Biblical record is clear, there is no place we can hide from God.

The people seeing Moses, were struck with fear. Fear because the pure glory and righteousness of God is a holy thing that will cause death when it comes into contact with sinfulness. Remember the Ark of the Covenant, how when the servant tried to prevent the Ark from hitting the ground and physically touched that which was never to be touched. The effect of this physical touching was instantaneous death.

Contrast Paul’s boldness, his openness with Moses’ demeanor at the event that is behind this passage. Moses didn’t have that kind of boldness. There was something about.. there was something about the Law that was blinding, burning, searing… you couldn’t look at it without destroying you. And Moses had to cover it. He would cover his face immediately so that the blazing glory of God that came to him in the giving of the Law didn’t burn people. For it was like looking into the sun, it would scorch their eyes. It was a burning covenant, it was devastating, injurious and harmful even as it was glorious.

Contrast this burning covenant with the one St. Paul speaks about. The new covenant brings hope, gives hope. It is permanent. It provides righteousness. It gives life. This new covenant is the one Jesus paid for on the cross. It is the divine substitution of the righteousness of God exchanged for the punishment due for all our sins for all time. Jesus makes that deal in His obedience to the Father on the cross. He is punished for our sins and we get His righteousness, justification by faith. All is gift and all is good.

Paul is rightly bold and courageous with this good news. For this covenant far outshines the former one. The covenant of the Law drove creation to its knees. For by that covenant, no one would be saved, for all fall short of the glory of God. Yet, God in His mercy, provides a narrow gate for salvation. By faith in the Son of God and His complete and utter payment for sin, we are forgiven and given the gift of eternal life.

We fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. And we see God… with unveiled faces. We see God in the person of Jesus Christ.

This new covenant, the Gospel is only veiled to those who are perishing. For if they could do something to save themselves, then why the cross? But, God has called us through His Spirit and the Word into a new relationship. We did not initiate it, but yet are partakers of something we do not deserve and did not do for ourselves. By our own reason or strength, we did not choose God, but rather God chose us in Christ through the power of the Gospel in the gift of faith.

So, we shine now with the glory of Christ. We are not veiled. For Christ is our salvation and our Lord. In Him we find the good gifts of the kingdom. One of our favorite Christmas hymns helps us to understand the wonder of God’s presence in our lives:

Christ, by highest heav’n adored,

Christ, the everlasting Lord,

Late in time behold Him come,

Offspring of a virgin’s womb.

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,

Hail the_incarnate Deity!

Pleased as Man with man to dwell,

Jesus, our Immanuel!

Remember also how Jesus was veiled in the cloud on the Mount of Transfiguration and the glory of the Lord shone brightly and dazzlingly. Finally, the dark Friday as Jesus died, the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom. As God accepted the sacrifice of His only begotten Son for the sins of the world the relationship torn asunder by sin was repairs and the veil that separated God from creation was torn apart. In Jesus, we see God. In Jesus, we see God at work for our salvation. In Jesus, you and I are unveiled and see face to face our God in His incarnate flesh.

The unbelievers still follow the way of Moses… trying by their own works and righteousness to earn heaven. For believers, God has taken the veil off of us. We see the futility of the Law to save. And we see the incredible grace of God in the Gospel news of Jesus and the cross. For by that grace, we are saved.. not of our own works, so no one can boast. The Law now teaches us obedience and righteous living according to God’s will. It no longer veils us, but rather is our guide for living a holy and upright life of service to our neighbor.

Prayer: Lord, teach me your precepts, your commandments and your law. Help me to live within that grand plan all the days of the my life. I do not depend upon my obedience to save me, but only in Jesus my Savior for my salvation. For my works are always falling short of Your perfection. Yet, my salvation does not depend on my works. My works only show that my faith is alive. Lord, open my heart and my life for Your love and work. Bring all of my life into conformance with Your holy Word. In Jesus my Savior, I pray. Amen.

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