Christ Removes the Veil
I’d like to read from 2 Corinthians, chapters 2 & 3 today. And I’d like to begin with chapter 2, verse 14. Open your bibles and follow along if you wish, or just listen as I read.
2 Corinthians 2, verse 14 and following..
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us triumphantly, as captives in Christ, and through us, spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.” Paul is probably speaking specifically there, of himself and of the other apostles, who God was leading around, as captives in Christ, as they preached the gospel to the whole world. But he might well be referring to all of us, all Christians, as captives of Christ. But we’re not captive like “defeated slaves”. We are “triumphant captives”. Triumphant over sin, and triumphant over death, through the assurance, of our resurrection to eternal life.
But yet, we are captives of Christ, we belong to Christ; The scriptures say that we’ve been “bought with a price”. “You are not your own” “Therefore glorify Christ in your body”. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) In other words, glorify God through your behavior, during your life, in everything you do.
Think about the biggest “procession” that you could ever imagine; Picture if you would, Jesus Christ, leading every saved soul that there is, in a triumphant procession, like a parade, being shown off to the world, and declaring the victory that we have over sin and death. Just how big would that procession be? How many miles would it extend? I can’t even imagine.
But think of this; Even you all by yourself, as just one Christian, out in this world; You yourself, are a “procession” being led by Jesus, for all to see. We all, are a triumphant display, of Jesus Christ. I guess we’d better be glorifying God in our body! Because that’s what everyone is seeing; They’re seeing the deeds we do in the body. They’re not seeing our thoughts, and they’re really seeing the spirit within us; But what they are seeing, is the deeds that we do, in the body. And in a way, everyone around us IS seeing the spirit within us. As they witness our behavior , they’re witnessing the outward evidence, of the spirit within us.
But let’s get back to 2 Corinthians 2; Verse 15 says; “For we are to God, the sweet aroma of Christ, among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.” That’s everyone isn’t it? That’s the whole world. Everyone who is being saved, and everyone who is perishing. So then, from among the whole world. we Christians are compared to the “sweet aroma” of Christ Himself! A Christian’s life, should be the very “fragrance” if you would, of what Christ’s life on earth was. That’s an interesting way of putting it, isn’t it? But that’s how God puts it. And that’s a lot to live up to! But really, it’s all just a matter of loving God, and loving others, as God loves us. That’s what it boils sown to.
Verse 16; “To the one (to the one who is perishing) we are an aroma from death to death, to the other (to the one being saved) an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?” In other words; Are we up to the task, that God has given us?
“For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, (in other words, selling the word of God for profit) but as from sincerity, but as from God; We speak in Christ in the SIGHT of God.” How many today preach God for profit? If you happen to be a really good speaker, there’s a LOT of profit to be made! But that’s not why the apostles preached the word, and that’s not why any Christian should preach the word of God. Of course the scriptures do tell us that.. “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” (1 Tim 5:18) But that’s not main reason why a Christian should preach God’s word.
We preach it, and we live it, because we are tasked, to be “an aroma of Christ”, not only to God, but to the world! The main reason that you’re a Christian, is to be saved eternally; But your secondary reason, really should be to try to help others become saved eternally, also.
Now Paul is going to speak specifically about himself and the other apostles. He says in chapter 3, verses 1 & 2; “Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? You yourselves are our letter, inscribed on our hearts, known and read by everyone.” And that kind of goes back to that thought of Christians being a “procession” led by Jesus Christ, for everyone to see.
And he says in verses 3 thru 5; “It is clear that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, (through the word of God, I might add) not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”
Remember the reference in Jeremiah 31:33, where God said that He would make a new covenant with His people, and that He’d write it on their hearts? Well, this is obviously what Paul is referring to here, with his phrase “tablets of human hearts”. God had said through Jeremiah; “But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD. I will put My law in their minds and inscribe it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they will be My people.”
When we’ve got God’s covenant in our heart, that’s when we’ve got the Spirit of Christ dwelling within us. And so Paul says; “Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. (confidence in the work of both the Father and the Son, in “creating” Christians) Not that we are adequate in ourselves, to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.”
Think back to chapter 2, verse 16, which said; ““To the one (to the one who is perishing) we are an aroma from death to death, to the other (to the one being saved) an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?” Well, even though WE, are such an example to the world, as Christians, our adequacy isn’t from ourselves either. It’s from God. We can’t be “a letter from Christ” to those around us, and we can’t be “an aroma of Christ, to God”, all on our own. But like Paul said in Philippians 4:13; “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Now let’s go back to our text; In 2 Corinthians 3, verse 6; Paul had said that.. “our adequacy is from God… Who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, (“the letter” refers to the old covenant) So then.. “Not of the letter, but of the Spirit (“the Spirit” refers to the new covenant) For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
And now Paul gets into a contrasting, of the old covenant, with the new covenant, and stresses the greatness of the new covenant in Christ. Listen closely to verses 7 & 8; “Now if the ministry of death, which was engraved in letters on stone, (the old covenant) came with such glory, that the Israelites could not gaze at the face of Moses, which was fleeting glory; will not the ministry of the Spirit, (the new covenant) be even more glorious?” Well, that’s a rhetorical question, isn’t it? Of course the new covenant is much more glorious! It’s been inaugurated with the blood of Christ! Jesus said in Mathew 26:28; “This is MY blood of the covenant.”
Now Paul continues, in 2 Corinthians 3, verses 9, 10, & 11; “For if the ministry of condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious, is the ministry of righteousness! For indeed what had glory, in this case, has no glory now, because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which endures!
Listen to the similarity between that verse, and Hebrews 8, verse 13; “In speaking of a new covenant, He makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old, is ready to vanish away.”
So then, what does all this mean for us? Well, it means that we as Christians, have boldness, and we have confidence, in our faith on Christ! Listen to Verses 12 & 13; “Therefore, having such a hope, we use great boldness! We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face, to keep the Israelites from gazing at the END, of what was fading away!”
The “END” in that verse, means the fullness, or the full strength and power. The original Greek word is “telos”, and that’s where we get our word “telescope” from. And the perfect example of the meaning here, is to think about an old fashioned telescope, that extends out in several sections until the end, where the full power of the telescope is reached.
The full power, of the glory, of the words of God, in the giving of the old covenant, was more glorious than the people of Israel could bear to see for very long. And so Moses veiled his face. Even though that first covenant, was weak and useless to forgive sins, it was still glorious, because it was God’s word, given by God Himself! The old covenant was destined to fade away, and to disappear; But still, it possessed such power, having been given by God, that the face of Moses would GLOW radiantly, from having been “face to face” so to speak, with God and with the glory of God’s word!
Listen to this passage from Exodus 34, verses 29 thru 35. This was quite an occurrence; “And when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was unaware that his face had become radiant, from speaking with the LORD. So when Aaron and all the sons of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, (that word “shone” means.. to send out rays! Can you picture it?) and they were afraid to come near him! Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers in the congregation returned to him; and Moses spoke to them. And after this all the Israelites came near, and Moses commanded them to do everything that the LORD had told him on Mount Sinai.”
“When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face. But 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, he would tell the Israelites what he had been commanded, and the sons of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone. So Moses would replace the veil over his face until he went in to speak with Him.”
To See the Glory of God!
Oh, to be in the presence of God some day! And to spiritually “see” the glory of God! Will our faces reflect the glory of God? Or will our whole being reflect His glory? I don’t know, but it’s going to be something to behold!
And going back to 2 Corinthians 3, verse 13; “We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face, to keep the Israelites from gazing at the FULL POWER, of what was fading away!” Even though the old covenant given by God at My Sinai was glorious, it taught morality and obedience, and what was good, and righteous, but even so, it was destined to fade away, and allow for what would be eternally glorious! The new covenant in Christ.
Verse 14 says; “But their minds were hardened; For until this very day, at the reading of the old covenant, the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ.” In the first century, so many of the Jews, the vast majority of them, were hardened in heart, towards accepting Jesus Christ as the Savior. And so they were unable to even look, at the full power of God’s plan of salvation.
And listen to verses 15 thru 18; “And even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces, all reflect the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into His image, with intensifying glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
We have been given the opportunity, and the privilege, of looking at the full power of God in Christ, for forgiveness and salvation. And so may our lives shine forth, the radiance and the glory of Christ. Hebrew 1, verse 3 says; “And He is the radiance of His glory, and the exact representation of His nature..” And that’s what we should be trying to be like, in our lives.
Picture this as I close. Picture a bride, with face veiled, and a groom, standing before God, to be wed. And the groom is Christ, and we are the bride, His church. And the groom reaches out and raises the veil from the face of the bride, and Jesus looks at His bride, and we look at the glory of Jesus, and that moment goes on for eternity.