In today’s text Paul uses Moses’ veil as a metaphor for the lack of spiritual understanding outside of a relationship with God through Jesus. Paul writes that the purpose of Moses’ veil was “to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away” (apparently a reference to the fading glow of Moses’ face). We don’t find that interpretation in Exodus 34, but Paul looks back from a Christian perspective. He believes the old covenant has faded in the new light of God’s plan revealed in Jesus.
For those who do not yet trust Jesus, Paul writes, “That same veil is still there.” Christ removes the veil, and “when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.” When the Spirit comes to live in us, we gain new understanding of our relationship with God. The Holy Spirit lives within those whose hope is in Jesus. Our insights are imperfect, for we are fallible creatures. Nevertheless, the Spirit illumines our thoughts and sheds light on spiritual mysteries.
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he writes: “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit” (2:14, niv).
Warning: The Christian family is not the exclusive Fraternity of the Enlightened. Let’s not congratulate ourselves as the “well-versed ones” and dismiss those who have not turned to Jesus as “boorish.” You and I have a lot to learn too! Yet, those whose faith is in Jesus can pray for God’s Spirit to enlighten us, to teach us, and to unlock mysteries as we study God’s word. And through our faith, God promises to transform us “from one degree of glory to another.”
Lord, illumine my thoughts by your Spirit. Give me clarity and lead me into truth. Amen.
God’s glory is always revealed, even if never completely. When Moses encounters God on the mountain, his face undergoes a physical transformation as a reflection of God’s greater glory. The psalmist reminds us of how great God is and how even Moses and Aaron bow before God’s throne. Paul refers to the story of Moses, but because of Christ, God’s glory is now more openly revealed. There is no need to wear a covering as Moses did, for Christ reflects openly the divine radiance. Luke recounts the Transfiguration, when the face of Jesus, like that of Moses, begins to shine. God’s voice reinforces the revelation of the Transfiguration, declaring Jesus to be God’s Son and the revelation of God’s glory.
Read Exodus 34:29-35. Consider the ways you provide evidence of your faith. Do you display it for your glory or for God’s?
Read Psalm 99. How do you seek a healthy balance of awe and intimacy in your relationship with God?
Read 2 Corinthians 3:12–4:2. What “veil” separates you from God—a sense of unworthiness, a hardened heart, a lack of understanding?
Read Luke 9:28-43a. Jesus shines with God’s glory, but then he gets back to his work of healing. Consider how God might transform you to do better the work you are already doing for God.
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.