The Veil on Moses’ Face
Arnold Mattice, Oshawa, Ontario, engages our minds and hearts in a devotional study of a great experience in the life of Moses. Each of the five studies is complete in itself, but the greatest profit will be derived through a prayerful perusal of all.
The emotions of the Apostle Paul are so evident in his second Epistle to the Corinthians: his love, his rejoicing, his indignation, etc. These show his great shepherd heart for the saints of God. This Epistle is characterized by his anxiety and concern for the Christians at Corinth. He is comforted, then made sorrowful; he boasts and then glories, not willingly but compelled by them. He displays his indignation at the ever increasing influence of the false teachers. The Epistle is at times like a mighty torrent rushing now this way, now that; then as a great calm as His God comforts and encourages him. Vincent, in his Word Studies in the New Testament, quotes Erasmus, “So full of turns he is everywhere, so great is the skill, you would not believe that the same man was speaking. Now, as some limpid fountain, he gently bubbles forth; anon, like a mighty torrent, he mills crashing on, whirling many things along in his course; again, he flows calmly and smoothly or spreads out into a lake.”
Among many other important features 2 Corinthians establishes that Paul’s ministry was from God, and that he himself was an apostle, a sent one of Jesus Christ. The importance of these two great facts is evident. Had the false teachers and Judaizers been successful in disproving these facts, what a loss it would have been to the saint’s of Paul’s day, as well as for us today! The authority of his writings would have been seriously undermined. However, thank God for the firm establishment of the facts, first, that Paul’s ministry had been received directly from the Lord Jesus; and second, that he was a chosen apostle of Jesus Christ. Thus, all the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ is given to his letters and we can rest in the fact that they are inspired of God.
In chapter 2:17 Paul states, “For we are not as many which corrupt the Word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” The word corrupt is the Greek word “kapeleuo” which means “to hucksterize” or “to peddle.” To the Greek mind the term carried the connotation of adulterated or inferior merchandise. Paul is referring to those who trade in the Word of God, adulterating it for the purpose of personal gain or popularity. This, the Judaizers and false teachers were doing. They ever dogged the footsteps of Paul. Their purpose, of course, was personal gain and popularity and the discrediting of Paul. Paul, on the contrary, preached the pure “Gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4, R.V.) in all the churches. His preaching was in sincerity (i.e. pure when examined in the sunlight of God’s holy presence). He always preached as “in the sight of God.”
The proof of Paul’s sincerity and true preaching was the Corinthians themselves. He had gone into Corinth with the gospel. The wickedness of that city was so notorious that the term “to Corinthianize” throughout the Roman world suggested all manner of sin, filth and wickedness. God had worked through Paul and “many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized” (Acts 18:8). Paul now states that they were his commendation; he needed no other —”Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read (or, literally “known well”) of all men” (2 Cor. 3.2).
The Judaizers and false teachers endeavoured to mutilate the message of the gospel by adding the works of the law to grace and also sought to turn the saints against Paul. in 2 Corinthians, chapters three and four, Paul uses the veil on the face of Moses as an illustration of the passing glory of the law, and the superiority of the message of the gospel “in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). He shews that there is no mixing of law and grace and that the ministry of the gospel has superseded and supplanted the ministry of the law. The ministry of the law has been annulled in Jesus Christ. Its glory has faded away as the glory faded in the face of Moses. In denouncing the teaching of the Judaizers, he uses “great boldness of speech” (2 Cor. 3:12, R.V.) because of his confidence in the gospel message.
How important it is that those who preach and teach the Word of God today do as Paul did. The message must not be toned down. The message of God’s Word must be preached clearly, plainly and for no other purpose than the glory and honour of our Lord Jesus Christ. Personal advantage, whether financial gain or popularity, is not to be the motive, but only the glory of our Lord Jesus. When the gospel is preached to sinners, the facts of sin, the holiness of God, the judgment of God, the love of God and the all-sufficient sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, etc. should be presented in all sincerity as before God.
Likewise, when God’s precious Word is ministered to His saints, all the counsels of God should be made clear and plain. Paul ever did this, presenting the precious doctrines and then applying them to the lives of the saints so that the life of Jesus Christ might be lived out in the believer. James put it thus, “But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (Jas. 1:22). In our day of easy-going Christianity there is much hearing of the Word, many questions as to why we should or should not do this or that, but a great lack of living out in our individual and assembly lives the principles we have heard and been taught. Oh! for men and women young and old, to live out the Word of God in a practical way day by day before the unsaved and the saved.
Considerable space has been used for the introduction to this subject because of the great necessity of sincerity in handling the Word of God and the solemn fact that it is “in the sight of God speak we in Christ” (2 Cor. 2:17). There are at least four lessons that Paul teaches us in 2 Corinthians three and four regarding the veil on Moses; these will be considered in subsequent articles.