Summary: God transforms us from the inside out. All Christ-followers are in the midst of this transformation, and at the same time, raw as we are, we reflect the Lord’s glory. Go figure.
Nature is an incredible thing. Most of us have likely had our breath taken away at the site of something in creation. Barb and I spent a lot of time gasping at the beauty of the Scottish Highlands this summer, the gorgeous lochs, the stunning mountain ranges, the beautiful if slightly disturbingly hairy Highland Coos (cows).
England itself is nothing to sneeze at: the Lake District with is rolling pastoral hills and dales, and enormous hilly pastures covered in sheep. Sheep were everywhere. Wales as well is even lovelier with deep green mountains and valleys. We were moving so much, though (11 cities in 20 days), that we didn’t spend a whole lot of time looking up close at the finer aspects of creation.
One of the most impressive though, smaller, wonders is the simple butterfly. It’s lovely and pretty and all that, but the way the butterfly becomes a butterfly is even more incredible.
There’s this amazing metamorphosis that happens. Let’s take a peek. [Show video: http://youtu.be/6984R3d_QUs]
I thought today we could have a look at one key verse from the passage in 2 Corinthians that we read.
18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect[a] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
I’m currently reading through the whole Bible, hoping to complete it in one year. It’s quite the adventure, actually. As I read it I read it more and more as the book of the story of my people.
I feel this strong connection to the stories and the hopes and aspirations and even tragedies of the people of the book. It is truly an epic read.
The Jews are our spiritual forebears, the ones who carried God’s promises and the ones through whom God chose to bring about His incarnation in Jesus Christ, who was born to a young Jewish teenager and her husband, the step-father of Jesus.
When I say I read it as the story of my people, I mean by that that I take it quite personally.
I see myself in their struggle, in their disobedience, in their obedience, in their tendency to wander from God and in their continual returning to God. It all rings true to me at a very deep level.
One of the challenges of reading the New Testament accurately is that the writers of the NT were themselves steeped in the Old Testament, which is also called the Hebrew Bible.
They wrote the new having been deeply familiar with the old. They experienced the new thing the God was doing, in the sending of Jesus Christ and in the sending of the Holy Spirit, in the light of all that God had done already as conveyed in the Old Testament.
So it’s necessary for us as Christians to read and, I would suggest, become steeped in the stories of the Old Testament if we really want to grasp a fuller picture of what the NT talks about.
So in today’s passage that we’ve already looked at, for the purpose of helping the Corinthians better understand what God was doing among them, Paul refers to something really important in the Old Testament.
It’s important in part for how much things have changed now that Christ has come.
13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.
When Paul refers here to Moses and the veil, he is talking about this passage in Exodus:
Exodus 34:29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. 32 Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai.
33 When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. 34 But whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the Lord.