The Veil (2 Cor 3:12-16)

Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.” (2 Corinthians 3:12–16, KJV)

During the recent COVID pandemic, the order went out that everyone was to wear a mask when they were in close proximity to other people. Most churches followed this order. Ours did. So every Sunday, after we began meeting in our church building again, we drove to church and donned our masks prior to entering. For months, I never saw the faces of my fellow parishioners. Then we had a church wide event. It was at the end of the mask mandate and was a retirement banquet for our pastor.

When we got into the building for the event with our masks off, it felt a bit strange at first. It was kind of like we were doing something naughty. That was the first thing that struck me. The second was that I barely recognized the people of the congregations since it had been so long since I saw their faces. Some had grown beards and some had shaved them off. Yet even more than that, it was strange to see people without their masks on.

Wearing a mask is not a new thing. Cultures around the world have worn face coverings, which we call veils for centuries. This is primarily practiced today by women in many cultures. The practice was more widely practiced in in various cultures during ancient times than today. Historically, veils were worn for a variety of reasons, some for modesty, some as a sign of purity, and there were other reasons as well. The one thing that universally characterizes the veil is that it is a covering. We understand it as a covering for one’s face.

Paul in addressing the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, takes his readers back to Israel and the time when Moses veiled his face. Moses did this so the people would not see the radiance that shown from his face after communing with God. Paul used this as an illustration of the problem that the Jewish nation had in seeing the manifest glory of God. His point was that there was a spiritual veil that covered their hearts and minds so that they could not grasp the glory of the Old Covenant that looked forward to the coming of the New Covenant. Moreover, Paul indicated that this veil still remained and it prevented them from seeing the more splendorous glory of the New Covenant of grace in Christ. Paul concluded that when people turn to the Lord, the veil is taken away. It is then that they will see the glory of God.

I am glad we live in this age, when the glory of God has been revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. It is a time when the Holy Spirit establishes the New Covenant in the hearts of those who believe. Yet, when we look at the people of our world, we see that many are still spiritually veiled because of the hardness of their own hearts. We care about these who are lost and have not experienced the joy of salvation. What shall we be doing in this age. First, we must pray for the lost, that God would soften the hardened heart, removing the veil so they would believe. Second, we must endeavor to live an authentic Christian life, not one of being pretentious or of compromise. We must let the light shine through us so that others may see the glory of the Lord. Last, we must testify to the truth of the gospel. In doing so, we know that some will see the glory of the gospel and be saved.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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