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Behind and Beyond the Veil


Flickr Photo by David Campbell

Still between Passover and Pentecost, 2015, I’ve spent some time recently in Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians. In chapter 3 he compares and contrasts the glory of the law with the greater glory of the Spirit.

A present significance for us is that, as observant Jewish people celebrate the giving of the law on Pentecost (Shavuot or Festival of weeks), followers of Christ celebrate the giving of the Spirit on the same day.

P1020963_edited-1Many of us are familiar with the backstory. Soon after receiving the Law, the chosen people of God thought they had lost Moses somewhere on the top of Sinai. Suspecting they had been abandoned, they decided to fend for themselves by making a golden likeness that they knew from their many years in Egypt (Exo 32). When Moses finally came down the mountain and saw them worshiping a throwback to the gods of Egypt, he threw the tablets of law on the ground, and ground up the golden idol (Exo 33). An ugly scene followed, when 3000 died at the hands of priests who, at Moses’ command killed their brothers, to show allegiance to Moses and his God.

Looking back, the Apostle Paul found an explanation for such tragic events in the story of a veil that hid the fading glory of the law, (Exo 34:27-35). The letter of the law kills while the enabling gift of the Spirit gives life (2 Cor 3:5-6), .

Today we can see even more clearly the contrast Paul developed. The glory of the law reflects the goodness of God. (Exo 33:18-23). But the giving and glory of the Spirit reflects a far greater expression of God’s heart, goodness, and glory  (2Cor 3:7-11).

Turns out that this is the explanation for the veil Moses used  to cover his face (Exo 34:27-35)… not so that a frightened people would be willing to come near to him as he taught the law, but so that they would not see  (that because of the weakness of their own inclinations) the glory of the law was already fading away.

Could it be that, in the flesh, we have a hard time giving up our love affair with the glory of moral law (the residual effects of which are still killing us), and keep forgetting the greater glory of the Spirit that makes living by the law obsolete (Gal 5:22-23).

Hope we can take the days leading up to Pentecost 2015 celebrating something far greater than a fading glory.

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104 Responses to “Behind and Beyond the Veil”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    The story of Abraham-Isaac-Jacob in Genesis then followed by Exodus-Leviticus-Numbers and Deuteronomy define who the Jewish people are.

    They are a people because of the action and interaction of God by His design and for His purpose.

    For the Orthodox Jew the Law is not only an ordinance for life but who they are.

    No small wonder their leaders two thousand years ago had Jesus of Nazareth killed by Roman rulers.

    Jesus illuminated the intent and purpose of the Law away from punishment towards forgiveness and tolerance.

    In the inception of the people Israel there was little or no room for tolerance in violation of the law.

    It is clear that Christian’s recognize who God is because of these first 5 Books of the Bible and clearer still that Christians are followers of Jesus of Nazareth whom we believe to be that same God, yet Jesus’ story separates the Christian from being an Orthodox Jew.

    With this one statement Jesus summed up the law and defined Christian behavior, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, this is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37, 38, 39, 40)

    Why a Christian should think they are a new breed of un-orthodox Judaism escapes me, but many do.

    Wet and foggy in the mountains of West Virginia.


  • saled says:

    Wow! New idea for me. The purpose of the veil was so that the people would not see that the glory of the law was fading away. There it is in black and white in Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 3. All these years I thought the purpose of the veil was to protect the people from seeing God’s glory, which would be too much for them and they would die. Yes, this Pentecost let’s celebrate something far greater than a fading glory.