He’s Something Else

liverbirds

Please read Revelation 1:4-20 in your Bible.  I’ve used the NIV (1984) as my resource for this article.  This is the second of three articles in a series.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the phrase “he’s something else” (the title of today’s message) can mean, “unusual; extremely good or extremely bad.”  (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/something-else) As I’m pointing to Jesus and saying “He’s something else,” I feel it’s necessary to make it perfectly plain that Jesus is SO unusual He’s one of a kind, and so extremely good He’s God.  So – make no mistake about that.

I also want to make certain that no one thinks I’m applying to Jesus the hit song “He’s Something Else,” made famous by the all-girl band, the Liverbirds.  Like some other rock group I won’t mention, the Liverbirds were from Liverpool, England, performing from 1963-1968.  They took their name from a mythical bird, a symbol of Liverpool.  In 2009 Irene Cara covered the song, changing the title to “My Baby.”  That song has nothing to do with Jesus either.

Now that we’ve got all that settled, let me tell you what I DO mean when I say “He’s something else.”  We will continue our look at Jesus in Revelation one to see Him in a different light, to emphasize the divine side of His absolutely unique existence as both God and man.  We will also, along the way, be reminded that when He comes the second time, it will not be as a helpless peasant child, but as the All-conquering Hero, the One who restores creation to its perfection, according to the plan of God the Father.  This is the second in a series of three messages to view Jesus in this way.  Yes, I think it’s that important.

Only the Son of Man is powerful enough to save us.

  1. The descriptions of Jesus in Revelation 1 point to a powerful being.

REVIEW

Vs.  4 + 8 = HIM WHO IS, WHO WAS, WHO IS TO COME.

  1. 4 = He is enthroned = He exercises His authority.
  2. 5 = THE FAITHFUL WITNESS = He is trustworthy and truthful.
  3. 5 = FIRSTBORN OF THE DEAD = He leads us to life.
  4. 5 = RULER OF THE KINGS OF THE EARTH = He triumphs.
  5. 6 = He MADE US TO BE A KINGDOM AND PRIESTS TO SERVE HIS GOD AND FATHER = He delegates power for service.
  6. 6 = TO HIM BE GLORY AND POWER FOR EVER AND EVER!
  7. 7 = HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS = Just as He ascended.

NEW

Verse seven = ALL THE PEOPLES OF THE EARTH WILL MOURN BECAUSE OF HIM.  This sounds very negative but consider this: in Revelation, a SIMILAR phrase – INHABITANTS OF THE EARTH – is a euphemism for wicked, self-condemned, unbelieving folk (Revelation 3:10; 6:10; 8:13; 11:10; 13:8, 12, 14; 17:2, 8).  They are OF THE EARTH, not of heaven in their spirituality and moral life.

They will MOURN because only at the end they will see they’ve rejected Jesus at their peril.  They may cry out, but it will be too late.  Zechariah 12:10-14 speaks of mourning, but there it is a cry of repentance provoked by the Holy Spirit, not at all what John records.

Verse eight = Jesus is the ALPHA & OMEGA, FIRST & LAST (v. 17). The words “I AM” remind us of God’s declaration to Moses, naming Himself as the “I AM,” or Yahweh.  ALPHA/FIRST refers to Jesus activity in the creation of the world (see Colossians 1:16).  He is the source, the beginning of all that exists.  OMEGA/LAST = His Second Coming is the event signaling the end of the universe, Jesus is also the end of all that exists.  This proclamation is repeated twice at the end of John’s vision; Revelation 21:6 & 22:13.

Verse Eight = Jesus is THE ALMIGHTY.  This is how the Hebrew words Yahweh Sebaoth are translated; “Lord of Hosts.”  The Leader of the Angels is one aspect of God’s complete power over His creation.  God is all powerful but He chooses to not use His power to negate the free will of the people He’s created.  Instead, He relies on the guiding power of love.  We do well to follow His example, using love to influence others.

Verse thirteen = “LIKE A SON OF MAN.”  According to the Gospels, Jesus used the title “Son of Man” more than any other to refer to Himself.  It is important we understand this choice.  It may sound less powerful than “Son of God,” but it is a title no less divine.  The title SON OF MAN originates in Ezekiel 2:1, where an angel addressed the prophet in this way and repeated it dozens of times in the book.  In Daniel 7:13, a figure endowed with divine power is said to be LIKE A SON OF MAN.  In Daniel 8:17, Daniel himself is called a SON OF MAN.  This phrase is repeated in Revelation 1:13 in a description of Jesus and in 14:14 as a description of an angel.

This title is used for prophets, angels and Jesus Christ.  It refers to someone endowed with a message from God and the divine power to make it known to all people in miraculous ways.  I assume Jesus saw this as His ministry and that is why He referred to Himself in this way.

Verse thirteen = He was DRESSED IN A ROBE REACHING DOWN TO HIS FEET.  Wearing a full-length robe was a sign of wealth and/or authority.  Persons so dressed did not do menial work for a living; they would be the ancient equivalent of what we call a “white collar” laborer.  This is yet another symbol of Jesus’ personal authority.

Verse thirteen = WITH A GOLD SASH AROUND HIS CHEST.  In Old Testament times, the high priest wore a gold breastplate adorned with twelve semi-precious stones.  Perhaps this SASH is meant to remind us that Jesus is our High Priest.

In Revelation 15:6 the seven angels who carried the plagues wore gold sashes.  The image of a gold sash is an ancient equivalent of having a badge or ID.  It verified the person wearing it had authority.  Whether high priest or angel, they represented God and enacted His will.

Verse fourteen = HIS HEAD AND HAIR WERE WHITE LIKE WOOL, AS WHITE AS SNOW.  White is a biblical symbol of purity.  The fact that His head is white indicates a purity of Jesus’ inner man.  This also directly associates Jesus with the Ancient of Days described in Daniel 7:9, whose head of hair is also WHITE LIKE WOOL and whose clothing was as WHITE AS SNOW.

Verse fourteen = HIS EYES WERE LIKE A BLAZING FIRE.  Fire is, among other things, a biblical symbol of judgment.  That His eyes are ablaze indicates that Jesus sees accurately and judges fairly.  This description is repeated in Revelation 2:18 & 19:12, marking it as important.

The phrase EYES OF THE LORD is repeated over 100 times in Scripture, it refers to God’s omniscience, His attention to His people, and whether or not they obey His moral law.  For example, in 2 Chronicles 16:9 it is written, FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD RANGE ALL OVER THE EARTH TO STRENGTHEN THOSE WHOSE HEARTS ARE FULLY COMMITTED TO HIM.  This is also seen in Hebrews 4:13; NOTHING IN ALL CREATION IS HIDDEN FROM GOD’S SIGHT.  EVERYTHING IS UNCOVERED AND LAID BARE BEFORE THE EYES OF HIM TO WHOM WE MUST GIVE AN ACCOUNT.

Verse fifteen = HIS FEET WERE LIKE BRONZE GLOWING IN A FURNACE.  FEET were considered the lowliest part of the human body; washing the feet of others was done by the lowest slave.  To sit at someone’s feet was a place for a learner, showing their humility before their teacher (Deuteronomy 33:3; Luke 10:39).  To be under someone’s feet was to be utterly defeated (Joshua 10:24; Psalm 8:6).  Given this cultural understanding, how extreme is this statement? HOW BEAUTIFUL ON THE MOUNTAINS ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD TIDINGS, WHO PROCLAIM SALVATION, WHO SAY TO THOSE IN ZION, “YOUR GOD REIGNS!” (Isaiah 52:7).  I mean, beautiful FEET?  Really?

The prophet Ezekiel described FOUR LIVING CREATURES he saw in a vision.  One detail is that they had feet that BEAMED LIKE BURNISHED BRONZE (1:7), but theirs were calf-like (hooved?).

In the Bible, BRONZE is a sacred metal.  Many of the furnishings of the tabernacle were to be made of bronze.  When a plague of snakes killed many of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, God commanded Moses to raise up a bronze snake and all who beheld it were saved (Numbers 21).

GLOWING IN A FURNACE = a FURNANCE is a biblical symbol of judgment, a place where fire melted metals to refine them.

Put all these elements together and in this one detail you get a picture of God defeating the enemies of His people, one of the things that will happen in connection with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  Paul wrote of this in 1 Corinthians 15:25 = FOR HE MUST REIGN UNTIL HE HAS PUT ALL ENEMIES UNDER HIS FEET.

Verse fifteen = HIS VOICE WAS LIKE THE SOUND OF RUSHING WATERS.  In Ezekiel 43, the prophet was given a vision of the glory of God returning to His temple.  He wrote that the VOICE of the glory WAS LIKE THE ROAR OF RUSHING WATERS; a sound that commanded attention.  Like a mighty waterfall, no one should miss the message of God or His commands.  This image requires us to sit up and take notice!

Verse sixteen = IN HIS RIGHT HAND HE HELD SEVEN STARS.  The RIGHT HAND is a symbol of authority; a king’s scepter was held in his right hand.  Verse twenty explains the SEVEN STARS as being the ANGELS OF THE SEVEN CHURCHES to whom the letters of chapters 2+3 are addressed.  In some way, the angels represent these churches and are responsible for their condition.

Only the Son of Man is powerful enough to save us.

          “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” is the witness of the writer of Proverbs (9:10).  “Fear” in this sense is the realization that God is all-powerful.  He can do as He wills and it is only because He wills good for us that we are able to stand.

My prayer is that this study of John’s vision will reintroduce some awe and wonder, some reverence and holy fear back into our conception of Jesus.  While He is the Gentle Shepherd and the Great Physician, He is also the Conquering King of Kings and Divine Judge.  Both sides of Jesus are necessary, not just for biblical accuracy, but for a balanced view that promotes salvation.

 

RESOURCES:

Harper’s New Testament Commentaries, G.B. Caird

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please read Revelation 1:4-20 in your Bible.  I’ve used the NIV (1984) as my resource for this article.  This is the second of three articles in a series.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the phrase “he’s something else” (the title of today’s message) can mean, “unusual; extremely good or extremely bad.”  (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/something-else) As I’m pointing to Jesus and saying “He’s something else,” I feel it’s necessary to make it perfectly plain that Jesus is SO unusual He’s one of a kind, and so extremely good He’s God.  So – make no mistake about that.

I also want to make certain that no one thinks I’m applying to Jesus the hit song “He’s Something Else,” made famous by the all-girl band, the Liverbirds.  Like some other rock group I won’t mention, the Liverbirds were from Liverpool, England, performing from 1963-1968.  They took their name from a mythical bird, a symbol of Liverpool.  In 2009 Irene Cara covered the song, changing the title to “My Baby.”  That song has nothing to do with Jesus either.

Now that we’ve got all that settled, let me tell you what I DO mean when I say “He’s something else.”  We will continue our look at Jesus in Revelation one to see Him in a different light, to emphasize the divine side of His absolutely unique existence as both God and man.  We will also, along the way, be reminded that when He comes the second time, it will not be as a helpless peasant child, but as the All-conquering Hero, the One who restores creation to its perfection, according to the plan of God the Father.  This is the second in a series of three messages to view Jesus in this way.  Yes, I think it’s that important.

Only the Son of Man is powerful enough to save us.

  1. The descriptions of Jesus in Revelation 1 point to a powerful being.

REVIEW

Vs.  4 + 8 = HIM WHO IS, WHO WAS, WHO IS TO COME.

  1. 4 = He is enthroned = He exercises His authority.
  2. 5 = THE FAITHFUL WITNESS = He is trustworthy and truthful.
  3. 5 = FIRSTBORN OF THE DEAD = He leads us to life.
  4. 5 = RULER OF THE KINGS OF THE EARTH = He triumphs.
  5. 6 = He MADE US TO BE A KINGDOM AND PRIESTS TO SERVE HIS GOD AND FATHER = He delegates power for service.
  6. 6 = TO HIM BE GLORY AND POWER FOR EVER AND EVER!
  7. 7 = HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS = Just as He ascended.

NEW

Verse seven = ALL THE PEOPLES OF THE EARTH WILL MOURN BECAUSE OF HIM.  This sounds very negative but consider this: in Revelation, a SIMILAR phrase – INHABITANTS OF THE EARTH – is a euphemism for wicked, self-condemned, unbelieving folk (Revelation 3:10; 6:10; 8:13; 11:10; 13:8, 12, 14; 17:2, 8).  They are OF THE EARTH, not of heaven in their spirituality and moral life.

They will MOURN because only at the end they will see they’ve rejected Jesus at their peril.  They may cry out, but it will be too late.  Zechariah 12:10-14 speaks of mourning, but there it is a cry of repentance provoked by the Holy Spirit, not at all what John records.

Verse eight = Jesus is the ALPHA & OMEGA, FIRST & LAST (v. 17). The words “I AM” remind us of God’s declaration to Moses, naming Himself as the “I AM,” or Yahweh.  ALPHA/FIRST refers to Jesus activity in the creation of the world (see Colossians 1:16).  He is the source, the beginning of all that exists.  OMEGA/LAST = His Second Coming is the event signaling the end of the universe, Jesus is also the end of all that exists.  This proclamation is repeated twice at the end of John’s vision; Revelation 21:6 & 22:13.

Verse Eight = Jesus is THE ALMIGHTY.  This is how the Hebrew words Yahweh Sebaoth are translated; “Lord of Hosts.”  The Leader of the Angels is one aspect of God’s complete power over His creation.  God is all powerful but He chooses to not use His power to negate the free will of the people He’s created.  Instead, He relies on the guiding power of love.  We do well to follow His example, using love to influence others.

Verse thirteen = “LIKE A SON OF MAN.”  According to the Gospels, Jesus used the title “Son of Man” more than any other to refer to Himself.  It is important we understand this choice.  It may sound less powerful than “Son of God,” but it is a title no less divine.  The title SON OF MAN originates in Ezekiel 2:1, where an angel addressed the prophet in this way and repeated it dozens of times in the book.  In Daniel 7:13, a figure endowed with divine power is said to be LIKE A SON OF MAN.  In Daniel 8:17, Daniel himself is called a SON OF MAN.  This phrase is repeated in Revelation 1:13 in a description of Jesus and in 14:14 as a description of an angel.

This title is used for prophets, angels and Jesus Christ.  It refers to someone endowed with a message from God and the divine power to make it known to all people in miraculous ways.  I assume Jesus saw this as His ministry and that is why He referred to Himself in this way.

Verse thirteen = He was DRESSED IN A ROBE REACHING DOWN TO HIS FEET.  Wearing a full-length robe was a sign of wealth and/or authority.  Persons so dressed did not do menial work for a living; they would be the ancient equivalent of what we call a “white collar” laborer.  This is yet another symbol of Jesus’ personal authority.

Verse thirteen = WITH A GOLD SASH AROUND HIS CHEST.  In Old Testament times, the high priest wore a gold breastplate adorned with twelve semi-precious stones.  Perhaps this SASH is meant to remind us that Jesus is our High Priest.

In Revelation 15:6 the seven angels who carried the plagues wore gold sashes.  The image of a gold sash is an ancient equivalent of having a badge or ID.  It verified the person wearing it had authority.  Whether high priest or angel, they represented God and enacted His will.

Verse fourteen = HIS HEAD AND HAIR WERE WHITE LIKE WOOL, AS WHITE AS SNOW.  White is a biblical symbol of purity.  The fact that His head is white indicates a purity of Jesus’ inner man.  This also directly associates Jesus with the Ancient of Days described in Daniel 7:9, whose head of hair is also WHITE LIKE WOOL and whose clothing was as WHITE AS SNOW.

Verse fourteen = HIS EYES WERE LIKE A BLAZING FIRE.  Fire is, among other things, a biblical symbol of judgment.  That His eyes are ablaze indicates that Jesus sees accurately and judges fairly.  This description is repeated in Revelation 2:18 & 19:12, marking it as important.

The phrase EYES OF THE LORD is repeated over 100 times in Scripture, it refers to God’s omniscience, His attention to His people, and whether or not they obey His moral law.  For example, in 2 Chronicles 16:9 it is written, FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD RANGE ALL OVER THE EARTH TO STRENGTHEN THOSE WHOSE HEARTS ARE FULLY COMMITTED TO HIM.  This is also seen in Hebrews 4:13; NOTHING IN ALL CREATION IS HIDDEN FROM GOD’S SIGHT.  EVERYTHING IS UNCOVERED AND LAID BARE BEFORE THE EYES OF HIM TO WHOM WE MUST GIVE AN ACCOUNT.

Verse fifteen = HIS FEET WERE LIKE BRONZE GLOWING IN A FURNACE.  FEET were considered the lowliest part of the human body; washing the feet of others was done by the lowest slave.  To sit at someone’s feet was a place for a learner, showing their humility before their teacher (Deuteronomy 33:3; Luke 10:39).  To be under someone’s feet was to be utterly defeated (Joshua 10:24; Psalm 8:6).  Given this cultural understanding, how extreme is this statement? HOW BEAUTIFUL ON THE MOUNTAINS ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD TIDINGS, WHO PROCLAIM SALVATION, WHO SAY TO THOSE IN ZION, “YOUR GOD REIGNS!” (Isaiah 52:7).  I mean, beautiful FEET?  Really?

The prophet Ezekiel described FOUR LIVING CREATURES he saw in a vision.  One detail is that they had feet that BEAMED LIKE BURNISHED BRONZE (1:7), but theirs were calf-like (hooved?).

In the Bible, BRONZE is a sacred metal.  Many of the furnishings of the tabernacle were to be made of bronze.  When a plague of snakes killed many of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, God commanded Moses to raise up a bronze snake and all who beheld it were saved (Numbers 21).

GLOWING IN A FURNACE = a FURNANCE is a biblical symbol of judgment, a place where fire melted metals to refine them.

Put all these elements together and in this one detail you get a picture of God defeating the enemies of His people, one of the things that will happen in connection with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.  Paul wrote of this in 1 Corinthians 15:25 = FOR HE MUST REIGN UNTIL HE HAS PUT ALL ENEMIES UNDER HIS FEET.

Verse fifteen = HIS VOICE WAS LIKE THE SOUND OF RUSHING WATERS.  In Ezekiel 43, the prophet was given a vision of the glory of God returning to His temple.  He wrote that the VOICE of the glory WAS LIKE THE ROAR OF RUSHING WATERS; a sound that commanded attention.  Like a mighty waterfall, no one should miss the message of God or His commands.  This image requires us to sit up and take notice!

Verse sixteen = IN HIS RIGHT HAND HE HELD SEVEN STARS.  The RIGHT HAND is a symbol of authority; a king’s scepter was held in his right hand.  Verse twenty explains the SEVEN STARS as being the ANGELS OF THE SEVEN CHURCHES to whom the letters of chapters 2+3 are addressed.  In some way, the angels represent these churches and are responsible for their condition.

Only the Son of Man is powerful enough to save us.

“Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” is the witness of the writer of Proverbs (9:10).  “Fear” in this sense is the realization that God is all-powerful.  He can do as He wills and it is only because He wills good for us that we are able to stand.

My prayer is that this study of John’s vision will reintroduce some awe and wonder, some reverence and holy fear back into our conception of Jesus.  While He is the Gentle Shepherd and the Great Physician, He is also the Conquering King of Kings and Divine Judge.  Both sides of Jesus are necessary, not just for biblical accuracy, but for a balanced view that promotes salvation.

 

RESOURCES:

Harper’s New Testament Commentaries, G.B. Caird

a

 

Our Unveiled Faces

(Please read 2 Corinthians 3:7-18 in your favorite version of the Bible.  I use the NIV.)

(The following is an abridged of the AP article cited.)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — “A granite monument of the Ten Commandments that has sparked controversy since its installation on the Oklahoma Capitol grounds was moved early Tuesday.  The Oklahoma Supreme Court decided in June that the display violates a state constitutional prohibition on the use of public property to support “any sect, church, denomination or system of religion.” A contractor began removing the monument shortly after 10:30 p.m. Monday.  The state paid a contractor about $4,700 to remove the monument.

“Office of Management and Enterprise Services spokesman John Estus said said the monument was removed under the cover of darkness to avoid disturbing workers at the Capitol and to keep protesters from demonstrating while heavy equipment was used to detach the 2-ton monument from its base.

“Originally authorized by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2009, the privately funded monument has been a lightning rod for controversy since it was erected in 2012.  Its placement at the Capitol prompted requests from several groups to have their own monuments installed, including a satanic church in New York that wanted to erect a 7-foot-tall statue depicting Satan, a Hindu leader in Nevada, an animal rights group, and the satirical Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster also made requests.

“The original monument was smashed into pieces last year when someone drove a car across the Capitol lawn and crashed into it. A 29-year-old man who was arrested the next day was admitted to a hospital for mental health treatment, and formal charges were never filed. A new monument was erected in January.”

<Retrieved from http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/workers-removing-ten-commandments-from-oklahoma-capitol/ar-AAf8wUL?ocid=ansmsnnews11 on 10/09/15.>

This is another of those situations where the world is unwilling to face the truth.  Today we’ll look at a similar situation, where the children of Israel were unwilling to face God, not even the derived glory of God as it was reflected on the radiant face of Moses.

MESSAGE: God provides everything we need to reflect His glory – direct attention to Him – in our daily living.

CONTEXT: In the preceding passage, Paul once again rose to the defense of the ministry of himself and the other apostles.  He did this by reminding the Corinthians we live under the New Covenant a situation which reveals more of the glory of God than even Moses himself knew.

  1. Moses’ veiled face as a symbol of the old covenant, sin, and death.

Starting in verse 7, the Apostle Paul writes to show that the greater glory shone on the face of Christ, rather than on the face of Moses.  This refers to an extraordinary historic incident in Exodus 34:29-35:

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him.  But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them.  Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai.  When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face.  But whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak w/t Lord.

The point of this account is to stress the glory of God.  Even the reflected, derived, radiance of God’s presence was so great that the Israelites found it unbearable to behold.  In the Bible, a radiant face is one way to know God is with someone.  For example, in Matthew 17:2, we are told at His Transfiguration, Jesus’ face SHONE LIKE THE SUN.  In Matthew 28:3, the APPEARANCE of the angel atop the stone rolled back from Jesus’ tomb WAS LIKE LIGHTNING.

Paul makes use of this incident as a symbol of all that Jesus Christ replaced.

– THE MINISTRY THAT BROUGHT DEATH refers to the Second Death, the spiritual death that is the outcome of a life devoted to anything but God (see Romans 6:23; 8:6; Ephesians 2:2; 4:18).

– ENGRAVED IN LETTERS ON STONE refers to the contrast made in 3:3 between THE LETTER FROM CHRIST…WRITTEN…ON TABLETS OF HUMAN HEARTS, not on TABLETS OF STONE. It also reminds us of Jeremiah 31:33, where God promised to put His law IN THEIR MINDS and WRITE IT ON THEIR HEARTS.

– CAME WITH GLORY, SO THE ISRAELITES COULD NOT LOOK STEADILY ON T FACE OF MOSES, BECAUSE OF THE GLORY, FADING THOUGH IT WAS. The accounts in Exodus imply the radiance of Moses’ face was an effect that diminished after time; it was a temporary thing, not mentioned again.  However, in contrast, the radiance of God’s glory is of greater brightness and lasts for all eternity.

What word do we use for someone who comes to understand the truth?  “Enlightenment!”  The exciting promise of this passage is that all of us who believe reflect the glory of God in our faces!

Verses 8-11 elaborate on the greater glory of the new MINISTRY.

– THE MINISTRY OF THE SPIRIT is EVEN MORE GLORIOUS. This is true in both quantity (the glory of the Spirit is eternal, the glory Moses reflected was only temporary) and quality (the unreflected glory is obviously brighter, more inspiring than the glory reflected on Moses’ face).

– THE MINISTRY THAT BRINGS RIGHTEOUSNESS is more glorious than THE MINISTRY THAT CONDEMNS MEN. This is a point Paul makes often in his letters; the Old Covenant existed to identify and condemn sin.  The New Covenant provided salvation and the Spirit to result in people made RIGHTEOUS in God’s eyes.

– Though he will make one more comparison, Paul pauses in verse 10 to summarize his argument: There is no comparison between the old and the new. The GLORY of the new is so great that it is as if there were no light shed under the old system!

– THE GLORY WHICH LASTS is GREATER than the GLORY that faded away. What Paul demonstrated with these repeated contrasts is that the New Covenant is the completion of the Old.  The New transcends the Old in every way.

2. Our unveiled faces as symbols of the new covenant and the Christ-like life we live right now.

We exercise our faith boldly.  Compare the timidity of the Israelites with our boldness.  In verse 12: THEREFORE, SINCE WE HAVE SUCH A HOPE, WE ARE VERY BOLD.  Our boldness does not come from ourselves, but from God.  We don’t let people push us around because we are on God’s side.

The glory of God coming off the face of Moses frightened the Israelites (v. 13).  As we read, they would not face him until he was veiled and the glory dimmed.  Knowing their own hearts, they dared not be exposed by the glorious light coming off Moses’ face.  Sinners in the presence of God fear judgment.

We read the Bible with understanding.  Compare the veil of their misunderstanding with our unveiled understanding of the word of God.

Verses 14+15 state: THEIR MINDS WERE MADE DULL…THE SAME VEIL REMAINS WHEN THE OLD COVENANT IS READ…EVEN TO THIS DAY WHEN MOSES IS READ, A VEIL COVERS THEIR HEARTS.  (see Romans 11:7-8, 25). Paul uses the historic veil on Moses’ face as a symbol of the willful ignorance of the Jews.  Since they continue to reject Christ as Savior, they cannot understand the truth.  He refers to Moses throughout this passage because his opponents took pride in having Moses as their authority figure.  In a way, they hid behind his name.

This verse also reminds us of something important about God: His justice.  When people continually reject Him and sin against Him, these decisions solidify into character, the person’s way of life.  God does not force Himself on anyone.

But there is hope, and its source is revealed in verses 14+16: BECAUSE ONLY IN CHRIST IS [the veil] TAKEN AWAY…WHENEVER ANYONE TURNS TO THE LORD, THE VEIL IS TAKEN AWAY.  Jesus Christ gives the Holy Spirit to His people.  The Holy Spirit imparts “illumination” (understanding) of the word of God.  This is how the VEIL IS TAKEN AWAY.

We live in the Spirit, being transformed in the image of Jesus Christ.  The SPIRIT brings FREEDOM (v. 17).  It is this FREEDOM that makes it possible for us to be bold.  People who are not free do not tend to be bold.  This is the key verse to this passage and a summary of a great portion of all that Paul taught in his letters.

Follow Paul’s chain of reasoning: our FREEDOM exists so we can be TRANSFORMED into the likeness of the Lord (v. 18).  The VEIL over Moses’ face was not a sacred object, but a barrier between them and the glory of God.  It was a concession made to their fear.  This is why Paul uses it to represent the incompleteness and inadequacy of the Old Covenant, and worse, the willful disobedience of Israel.

It is infinitely better to be UNVEILED in the New Covenant than to be veiled in the Old.  WE…WITH UNVEILED FACES, ALL REFLECT THE LORD’S GLORY.

– BEING TRANSFORMED INTO HIS LIKENESS (see 2 Corinthians 4:6).  As disciples, our goal is to increasingly become like Jesus, who is the glorious likeness of God.  This is primarily a spiritual transformation but it is also manifest in our mental, moral, and emotional aspects as well.

– WITH EVER-INCREASING GLORY. Of course, this is not our glory, but God’s.  Our lives are supposed to more and more draw attention to God, less and less to self.

– WHICH COMES FROM THE LORD, WHO IS THE SPIRIT. All the persons of the Trinity are in view here.  The glory of God the Father is reflected in God the Son and we, in turn, reflect his glory (in the way that a series of mirrors can reflect light).  This reflective power is not our own, however.  It is supplied to us by the Holy Spirit.  By choosing to grow in our faith we effectively polish our mirror surface to produce a greater reflection.

A recurring problem in Paul’s ministry was caused by Jewish Christians who taught falsely that observing the particulars of the Law given through Moses was necessary for salvation.  They would attempt to throw their weight around in the churches to convince others to share their convictions.

To Paul, this was nothing less than surrendering the freedom Jesus Christ died to obtain for us.  It was worse than foolish and false, it was blasphemous.  This passage is one of many places where his teaching is directed at these false teachers.

I think these false teachers did what they did because they were sincerely or insincerely wrong.  Some of them were sincerely but wrongly convinced that as Jesus was the Jewish Messiah that the full weight of the Law must still be in force.  Others were being false – misusing the Law- twisting it for personal gain and advantage.  Jesus reserved His strongest rebukes for people who wielded the letter of the Law to violate its spirit.

Kenneth L. Chafin wrote the following comment on this passage: “The Old Covenant became the religion of struggling to impress God with one’s goodness, of endless rules and regulations governing every conceivable area of one’s life, of outward conformity and worrying about appearance, of spiritual pride and competitiveness.”  (The Communicator’s Commentary, Vol. 7, p. 223.)  One trouble with legalism is that it is superficial.  It is possible to change behavior without changing the heart.

We who follow Christ are indeed bound to a moral standard, but it is a greater and more complete standard than the complicated code of the Old Testament and the layers of interpretation the Jews had added to it.  Jesus Himself taught that there were only two commandments and both of them were based on love.  He reduced the entirety of the Law given through Moses to love for God and love for neighbor founded on love for self.