The energy of the apostle, like that of his master, went forth to rouse men to seek the kingdom of God over them, his righteousness in them; to dismiss the lust of possession and passing pleasure; to look upon the glory of the God and Father, and turn to him from all that he hates; to recognize the brotherhood of men, and the hideousness of what is unfair, unloving, and self-exalting. His design was not to teach any plan of salvation other than obedience to the Lord of Life. Let us see then what Paul teaches us in this passage about the life which is the light of men. It is his form of bringing to bear upon men the truth announced by John.
When Moses came out from speaking with God, his face was radiant; its shining was a wonder to the people, and a power upon them. But the radiance began at once to diminish and die away, for it was not indigenous in Moses. Therefore Moses put a veil upon his face that they might not see it fade. Paul says that the veil which obscured the face of Moses lies now upon the hearts of the Jews, so that they cannot understand him, but that when they turn to the Lord, go into the tabernacle with Moses, the veil shall be taken away, and they shall see God. Then will they understand that the glory is indeed faded upon the face of Moses, but by reason of the glory that excelleth, the glory of Jesus that overshines it. The sight of the Lord will take that veil from their hearts. Where he is, there is no more bondage, no more wilderness or Mt. Sinai. The Son makes free with sonship.
With Unveiled Face
This sermon is based on a passage that has become my life verse: “We all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord, are change into the same image...” MacDonald says, “Paul says that the veil which obscured the face of Moses lies now upon the hearts of the Jews, so that they cannot understand him, but that when they turn to the Lord, go into the tabernacle with Moses, the veil shall be taken away and they shall see God.” Christianity is not a religion like any other--it is not about "being good," it is the encountering of God without having been good; instead we encounter God personally through the path and work of Christ in the removing of the veil that keeps all from seeing him. “In Christ the veil is removed” and we encounter the living God.
Christianity is about transformation, and that does not come through rehabilitation or psychological “behaviorism,” but by divine encounter. We are changed by “beholding Him.” This concept is important to understand. “We all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror...are transformed into the same image..from glory to glory.” I doubt if Paul was thinking of mirrors in our contemporary sense, but the image can have a contemporary illustration. Do not think of this as a mirror like the one you stand in front of every day to get ready for work, where once you disappear from the mirror, so does your image. Instead, think of it like photographic paper in a camera, where, when the aperture is opened and the light allowed to go in, the image that is before the camera is burned into the photographic paper. Christ comes and stand before us, the aperture that keeps us from seeing the Lord is removed by Christ, and suddenly all the light of Christ shines into our hearts, bearing the image of Jesus, and it leaves the image on the photographic paper of our souls, and we are changed!
We grow by a divine process that is all around us. Light brings itself to bear upon this world of ours, and everything is changed by it. A depressing day is transformed by the sun. A flower grows toward the light, and photosynthesis changes the plant itself. Our world is transformed daily by moving from darkness to light, and so that is the method God has chosen with which to transform us.
Many years ago, a man went to visit a monk in a monastery, to learn the secret of the monk's deep experience with God. The monk's name was Brother Lawrence, and the book of his teachings was entitled Practicing the Presence of God. I have often felt that what is missing in many people's lives is the lack of “presence.” If we practiced it more...held ourselves before the Lord...and waited....we might encounter the deeper sense of the divine, and experience transformation. Lives marked with a deep sense of the divine have always left an impact upon the world.
God's divine Presence can change the darkest of lives; he has even removed the veil through Christ, and all that remains is for us to stand before him with open hands and receive the glory of his imprint upon our lives. “The sight of the Lord will take that veil from their hearts. Where he is, there is no more bondage, no more wilderness or Mr. Sinai. The Son makes free with sonship.” (GMD)