Sunday, February 14, 2010

Glory: II Corinthians 3

“But if the ministration of death, written and engraved in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance, which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remains is glorious. Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech. And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” -II Corinthians 3:7-18

The call to spread the Gospel, the good news of Christ, is the most glorious calling one can have. In order to illustrate this point, Paul uses an Old Testament story found in Exodus 33. After returning from Sinai with the law, Moses’ face was shining because of the glory of God, in whose presence he had just been. Because of this, Moses needed to put a vail on as the glory faded from his face. Paul uses this story in a few ways to illustrate the beauty of the ministration of the Spirit.

First, Paul uses this story to show us just how glorious such a ministry is. For this, he uses comparison. Moses had God’s glory on his face from receiving the law. In the context of the New Testament, the law is the condemnation from God to show that man is imperfect, dead in sin, and needs a savior. Basically, the law shows us that we are dead on our own and need Jesus to live. Doesn’t that mean that Moses was being the minister of death? Yes, it does. So if Moses was covered in glory, so much so that he needed a vail so that people could look at him, think about how much more the glory will be for us someday as ministers of life, ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! And with such glory as our hope, we should be all the more bold to share the Gospel because no matter what opposition or persecution we may face here in this life, our future glory is greater still.

Paul also uses imagery to relate this story to today and give us a plan of action. Throughout scripture, vails are used to symbolize the Old Testament law system. In the story, the vail prevented the Israelites from seeing God’s glory on Moses’ face. It was blinding them from the glory of God. Jesus came to remove the vail, which would allow us, by a relationship with Him, to enter into the glory of God. He did not nullify the law, so that everyone’s vail has been removed, but He gives us the opportunity to have our vail removed if we turn our heart to Him. He frees us from the blindness we had with the law. Verse 18 says that we can now see the glory of the Lord unveiled….but that’s not all! Not only do we behold His glory, but we are transformed into the very image of His glory. Wow!

This glory is great, but it means absolutely nothing if we do not respond to our call to be ministers. Just like the moon, which reflects the glory of the sun, now that we are transformed into His glory, we need to reflect the glory of the Son. Since we now are in the image of God’s glory, those whose vails have not been removed should see His glory when they look at us. When someone looks at you, do they see the glory of Christ? My friends, we were not given this glory without purpose. We need to use this glory bestowed on us to be ministers of Christ to the world. This does not mean that everyone must be a professional evangelist or missionary. Instead, wherever God puts us, we should tell people of the glory of the One in whose glory we have been molded into. I urge everyone to be a vessel God can use to remove vails from others. That is our glorious calling!

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