12 Therefore having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech, 13 and are not like Moses, who used to put a veil over his face so that the sons of Israel would not look intently at the end of what was fading away. 14 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. 15 But to this day whenever * Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; 16 but whenever * a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. http://www.biblestudytools.com/nas/2-corinthians/3.html
I’m reading in 2 Corinthians and these verses stuck with me. I didn’t immediately stop reading to jot down my thoughts, it wasn’t anything dramatic shouting in my head telling me that I must write something about it. Over the past couple of days it’s just been nagging at me. Images keep popping into my head and my thoughts keep straying back here. I’m thinking God wants me to write something up about this so here goes nothing.
First of all, 2 Corinthians is a letter from Paul to the Church in Corinth. One thing to think about when reading these letters is the closeness of the Jewish faith to Christianity. We have 2000 years and a belief in Christ that separates us from the Jewish origins of Christianity, however, back when these letters were written, the only separation was the belief in Messiah. There were the Jews that believed that their Messiah had come (the first “Christians” or “followers of “The Way”) and there were the Jews that did not believe. Mix in Greeks, Romans, Gentiles from all over and you have a bit of a mix.
Now with that in mind, Moses was the superstar to the Jews. It was Moses that came down off that mountain with the commandments. It was Moses that led God’s people out of Egypt.
What Moses didn’t do, and couldn’t do, was lift the veil between God’s people and God Himself. Moses was not the Messiah. Rather than the people looking on God’s glory that shined forth from Moses’ face, Moses veiled himself. He effectively hid God’s light to spare God’s people….spare them what? The light of truth? Shame? Humility?
God’s glory wasn’t for the people to see…yet.
That would change with the coming of Christ.
That’s what Paul is saying in verses 12-13. He’s showing that we can speak boldly, not hiding the Light of God from the people! Not like Moses did. He is making a point. He’s drawing a distinct contrast between what Moses could do and what the followers of Christ can do. It reminds me of that old song, “Everything you can do, I can do better!” Or something like that.
In verse 14, he plainly says that their minds were hardened. I went and looked this up because normally we would read that their “hearts” had been hardened but in this case Paul uses “mind”. He’s referring more to the fact that they are unable to understand. Those with hardened minds cannot understand. So when he speaks about even now for the reading of Moses…the veil is there, intact…and the people are unable to understand.
This changes with Christ. Remember when Christ was on the cross? At the exact time of His death, the veil in the temple, shielding the ark, was torn in two. The veil separating the people from God, was torn in two.
Through Christ, we are able to have a direct relationship with God. Verse 15 and 16 say it best:
15 But to this day whenever * Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; 16 but whenever * a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
I find myself wondering how anyone who hears about Jesus and reads His word could NOT see the truth. But then I have to remind myself that it wasn’t so long ago that I, myself, didn’t see the truth either. It wasn’t so long ago that I had a “mind that was hardened” and I was unable to understand. I remember reading the Bible as a teen and at the time I thought I understood some of it, mostly the stories, but I was wrong. I didn’t understand any of it. Sure I could tell you the story of Adam and Eve but I didn’t understand Creation or Disobedience, or Sin, or Love, or Consequences.
When we go out and speak boldly we need to remember that the people we are speaking to, many of them have minds and/or hearts that are hardened. It’s tough not to get frustrated at those who (we think) are purposefully misunderstanding us. But we need to also remember that whether they turn to God or not is not up to us. It’s up to God. It’s all in His time, not ours.
So while there are people out there who strive to be the most unpleasant when faced with the Word of God, there are others who are right on the edge of belief and may need to hear just one more testimony in order to accept Christ.
Pray for the blind, the ones that are veiled. Those who are unable to understand.