“We aren’t like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the Israelites couldn’t watch the end of what was fading away… All of us are looking with unveiled faces at the glory of the Lord as if we were looking in a mirror. We are being transformed into that same image from one degree of glory to the next degree of glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:13,18,CEB).
The Old Testament story of Moses’ practice of veiling his face that the Apostle Paul is referencing in these verses is found in Exodus 34:33-35. The Old Testament story is one of my favorites because it’s theologically rich and yet, counter-intuitive.
Moses periodically entered into the presence of God at the Tent of Meeting. When he left the Tent of Meeting and returned to the people, he fastened a veil over his face. It seemed that Moses hid his face so as not to scare the already fearful Israelites with the shining glory of God that was reflected on his face.
But, that’s not really the case!
Paul informs us that Moses concealed his face to hide the fading glory of God “so that the Israelites couldn’t watch the end of what was fading away.” Moses didn’t want the Israelites to see the glory of God fading from his face!
Moses wanted to maintain his position of authority with the Israelites as God’s prophet, the person whom God used to speak to them. To uphold his ministry to the Israelites, Moses disguised himself to obscure his fading experience with God in the Tent of Meeting. Moses needed to maintain the impression with the Israelites that he was God’s spokesman to them.
Like Moses using a veil, we disguise ourselves to leave a certain impression with others. It’s been our nature since the beginning of time. Adam and Eve chose to believe a lie and then they attempted to hide their disobedience from God. Like Adam and Eve, we deceive ourselves into believing what’s not true. And then, we even attempt to deceive God.
You see, I like to think I am a good person, a spiritual person. I like to think that God is using me, that I’m always faithful and doing His will. And, I want people to think I am a good person, a spiritual person. I want people to think that God is using me and doing His will.
And, I want God to think I am a good person, a spiritual person. I want God to think that He is using me, that I’m doing His will.
So, I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to prove to myself and others that I am a good and faithful and spiritual person. I even try to convince God that I am good and faithful and spiritual!
What we always have to remember is that God is the source of the glory. Only God can make us good and faithful and spiritual. Only God is glorious!
Paul says that pretense is no longer necessary because unlike in the days of Moses, God’s glory doesn’t fade away. Now, no veil is necessary to hide behind to obscure our experience with God because His Holy Spirit dwells within us!
And, the fading glory becomes the brightening glory by the Spirit of God abiding in us!
So, we don’t have to pretend we’re something that we’re not. Because, Christians are people who have looked into the face of God and seen His Glory, the Glory of His Son, Jesus Christ!
But, if we don’t want the glory to fade, then we must continue to let God’s presence in our lives work through us and not use the pretense that we ourselves are good and faithful and spiritual. We must be earnest with ourselves, others, and most of all with God about who we really are.
You must continually, by the Spirit, come before God just as you are and look into His glory. No disguises. No games. No deceit. Just presenting your awful, sinful, deceitful self to a glorious God, who loves you and accepts you just as you are.
When you disclose your awfulness to God, He will expose the glory of His Son to shine on your life!
And, all those things you wanted other people to see–your goodness, your faithfulness, your spirituality…
When it’s the glory of God’s Son shining on your life, it will start to be reflected, from one degree of glory to the next degree of glory, so that you are being transformed into the image of His Son.
And, when Jesus is shining on you, then Jesus will be shining through you!