To this day a veil lies over their heart
2 Corinthians 3 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? 2 You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
4 Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, 6 who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
7 But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? 9 For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. 10 For indeed what had glory, in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it. 11 For if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory.
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. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
In today’s text, written by Paul nearly two thousand years ago, it says: But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Those words are perhaps even more true today than when they were written. The response of many people to the law, and to rules and regulations, is defiance and rebellion. People tend to view laws and rules as restrictive, limiting and binding. Particularly in our culture, where individual rights our stressed, there is resistance and rebellion against rules and laws. The veil that is over the heart regarding the law, particularly God’s law, what people don’t see clearly, is that it is not meant to restrict, but rather to direct toward good and protect from harm. In addition to the Ten Commandments, there were over six hundred Levitical laws, recorded by Moses. Like our laws today, that may seem excessive, but they were given for the purpose of directing people in what they should do and keeping them from things that would cause harm. In truth, our response to the law has a lot to do with our view of the one who makes the law. In Psalm 119:97-105, the psalmist says: O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, For they are ever mine. I have more insight than all my teachers, For Your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, Because I have observed Your precepts. I have restrained my feet from every evil way, That I may keep Your word. I have not turned aside from Your ordinances, For You Yourself have taught me. How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! From Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. The psalmist begins his meditation and declaration of his love for God’s word saying: How blessed are those whose way is blameless, Who walk in the law of the Lord. How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, Who seek Him with all their heart. The keeping and following of the law is not only the path to what is good and to righteousness, it is the path to God. No one should expect to find a loving God if they are walking on a path of rebellion.
Our view of God determines our response to His word and His law. If we view God as a harsh task master, we will reject and rebel against His law. If we instead, view Him as a loving and compassionate Father, we will see that He only wants what is best for us. Jesus Himself tells us the key to God’s law. In Matthew 5:17-20, He says: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” In Matthew 22:37-40, when Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, He said: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” The Ten Commandments and all of the other commandments and promises of God and His word, depend first and foremost on our love for God. All that we do is first and foremost based on how we view God. You see, even the second commandment Jesus speaks of, that we love our neighbor, is not that we love them as the world says we do, but rather that we love them based on the way we are loved. As Jesus says in Matthew 5, God’s law has not and never will change, neither though has His love.
Romans 5:8 says: God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Here’s the thing, because man did not respond to God’s love given through the law, He sent His Son Jesus, to fulfill the law. Jesus not only fulfills the requirements of the law, by paying the price for our sin; He also fulfills the purpose of the law, to direct us and lead us to the loving Father in heaven. Jesus says: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” As the fulfillment of God’s law, Jesus is the way of and to God’s love. In the text Paul says: To this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. The liberty we have through Christ, the fulfillment of God’s law and the demonstration of His love, is not the liberty to do as we please and continue in sin, rather it is the liberty of love, to do what pleases the Father who loves us. We are free from sin, not free to sin.
Jesus says that the first and great commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart soul and mind. Everything else depends on that, on how we respond to God and His love. In John 15:18 Jesus says: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.” That really is the choice that we each must make, whether we will love God and Jesus, the way to Him, or we will hate Him. That choice will determine whether we see the glory of God or if we see through the darkness of a veil. Earlier this week, when pondering the comments of many on social media, I wrote: There are two very powerful and very present forces in our culture and society today, which do not discriminate based on race, ethnicity; or religious, political or sexual orientation. They affect all people, regardless of their beliefs, the same way. They both cause us to be blind to the differences we have. These two forces are love and hate. The choice is yours. Choose wisely which lens you will look through when you look at others. You see, love does blind us, it blinds us to hate and allows us to see the glory of God; the glory which He put in every other person we meet. Hate on the other hand simply blinds us to anything but hate and darkness. It’s not about whether you’re a democrat or a republican. It’s not about whether you are left or right, liberal, conservative, moderate or progressive, before all else, if you want to see clearly, you must clearly see truth and love. They are not things or concepts. Truth and love are who and what God is and are what Jesus is: the way, and the truth, and the life.
Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations; You established the earth, and it stands… O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, For they are ever mine… How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth! From Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. I have sworn and I will confirm it, That I will keep Your righteous ordinances. Thank You Jesus, Your are the way, the truth and the life. You are the fulfillment of God’s law and His love. By Your Spirit, with an unveiled face, I love You and so I can also love others. Amen.