Paul’s letter gives us a new understanding of Moses’ problem with reflected glory. Today’s reading begins with: If our Gospel is “veiled,” the veil must be in the minds of those who are spiritually dying. Phillips But, to fully understand his meaning we need to read 3:7-4:6.
Paul takes us back to Moses and his efforts to be the emissary between God and God’s Chosen People. The problems were numerous because the people did not understand what Moses was telling them. They, like us, could not see God. Even Moses never saw God.
He spent weeks on the mountain listening to God. In Exodus 34:29-35 we have the description of Moses adopting the veil after being in God’s presence. The text does not tell us why he did that, except that he did it for the people. Moses’ face was in full view as he repeated the words of God. He veiled his face after God’s words so that the people would know that he was just Moses again. (Another understanding of why Moses veiled his face is that he did not want the people to see the radiance disappear from his face. That way, the people would understand that Moses was always available as the go-between.)
For Paul, the veil is all about hiding the Word. For all those who accept Jesus as the Word of God, they will understand what Paul is saying. For those who reject Jesus and God, it’s as though there is a veil blocking the words or at least the meaning of the words.
One of the early church leaders (Ambrosiaster, c. 370 AD) put it this way: Unbelief casts darkness over the splendor of the power of God. ACCS
Why does the Bible talk about hiding the Word? Why did Jesus preach in parables instead of saying straight out what he meant?
- Campbell Morgan wrote in The Corinthian Letters of Paul published in 1946 (a year after his death): It is said that our Lord adopted the parabolic method in order to hide the truth. He did nothing of the kind. He adopted it because of their blindness, and as a lure. He told them stories and gave them illustrations, by means of which to awaken their interest, if possible. But they were blinded, as men are blinded still.
God reaches out to the lost. He never gives up. He says with Elisha: I will not leave you. NIV
The Psalmist has God saying: Gather to me my faithful, those who made a covenant with me by sacrifice. CJB
Again, the message in Mark, This is my beloved Son; listen to him, ESV is the ultimate statement on the veil. We may give up on God, but He never gives up on us.
Read my earlier comments on this theme here.
Be righteous and do good.