The Veil is Taken Away



Exodus 34:29-35
Psalm 99
2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2
Luke 9:28-36, [37-43a]


We do not know what Moses looked like when he came down from the mountain after receiving instructions from God. It is easy to imagine he appeared to be sunburned, but I suspect he was actually glowing, kind of a 10-watt skin.

There is something stranger than that; starting in chapter 19, Moses climbed up and down the mountain many times, and God spoke to him for forty days and nights, giving Moses the outline of the contract between God and His chosen people. Moses descended the mountain several times before he brought down the commandments, and there was no need for a veil.

In chapter 32, Moses came down to confront the corruption of the people, break the tablets and generally force them to repent and cleans themselves. Yet, there was no need for a veil. Not until chapter 34, today’s reading do we see the face of Moses shining forth. (The Hebrew word is drawn from the word for “horn”, indicating that the presence of God extended outward from Moses.)

The symbol is powerful. Until the people rebelled from God and took up idolatry, there was no need for God’s presence to radiate from Moses, and, thus, no need for a veil. That veil was duplicated in the Tabernacle and the Temple. At first, only Moses could pass the veil to enter the Holy of Holies, but after his death, that duty passed to the High Priest.

Now we turn to the reading in Luke, known to us as the Transfiguration. Jesus takes his three most trusted disciples, Peter, John, and James, up a mountain to pray. While praying, while the three amigos became sleepy, Jesus’ face changed. I looked at all the translations and only the Living Bible read, “his face began to shine.” The Greek reads, “The appearance of face of him different.” I do not believe that Luke dared to try to describe what he had heard from Peter, so he left at, “different.”

His clothes did shine so brightly it was like lightning. He talked with Moses and Elijah and Peter and the boys understood what they were saying. Notice that they also knew the two on sight. Hard to believe, unless you already have faith.

This is the good part. No veil was necessary. Moses and Elijah, directly from Heaven, talking with the Son of God, glowing brighter than a detergent commercial, and no veils were needed.

Jesus was all about tearing away the veils. It should be no surprise that Luke continues the theme describing the death of Jesus in chapter 23, verse 45: The veil in the Temple sanctuary was split in twoPhillips

Paul ties it up very neatly. We are not like Moses, who veiled his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing its fading glory. But it was their minds really which were blinded, for even today when the old agreement is read to them there is still a veil over their minds—though the veil has actually been lifted by ChristPhillips

Because of our rebellion, God protects us from his wrath with a symbolic veil. To put it simply, Jesus removed the veil.

But all of us who are Christians have no veils on our faces, but reflect like mirrors the glory of the LordPhillips


Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

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