The Veil on Moses’ Face
Arnold Mattice is an Accountant retired from General Motors, Oshawa, Ontario. This is the sixth devotional article based upon the great experience in the life of Moses. Profit will be derived from a prayerful perusal of this and all the former articles.
4. The Unveiled Face
It is recorded in Exodus 34:34, “But when Moses went in before the Lord to speak with Him, he took the veil off, until he came out.” Paul now takes up this aspect of the veil on Moses’ face in 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 with respect to the ministry of the Spirit of whom he states, “The Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty” (3:17, R.V.). Such is the ministry we have received, a ministry of the Spirit which gives life and liberty. Then verse 18 declares, “But we all with open (or, unveiled) face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” This verse provides a further contrast between the ministry under the Law as seen in Moses and the ministry of the Spirit. Under the former, only Moses, no one else, went into the presence of the Lord. There he removed the veil from his face. But Paul states, “We all, with unveiled face.” Every child of God in this period of the ministry of the Spirit has the precious privilege of living in the very presence of our Lord. With unveiled face we may gaze on and commune with Him. Again, Moses went into the presence of the Lord and came out, but our portion is a continual beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord.
The word “beholding” carries with it the thought of beholding in order to reflect, for this is what Moses did. When he beheld Jehovah’s glory, his own face reflected that glory. We behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord. We see Christ in the Word of God and by faith behold His glory —”The glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). The “glory of the Lord” here has special reference to His moral glory. Certainly we see His personal glory and we praise God for it, but Paul is thinking here of His moral glories.
The verse adds, “We are changed from glory to glory”, or more correctly, “We are being changed from glory to glory.” (See Vincent Word Studies, Rotherham, etc.). The Word “changed” is the Greek word “metamorphoo” which is translated in Matthew 17:2 as “transfigured.” W. E. Vine states that the Greek word “morphe” lays stress upon that which is essential and inward, and which finds expression in outward manifestation.
If we consider carefully the transfiguration of our Lord (Matt. 17:1-2), it will help us to understand Paul’s meaning. Our Lord veiled His glory in the body prepared for Him and usually men saw Him as a man, albeit the God-man. They, however, saw only the “form of a servant” (Phil. 2:7), a lowly, despised man. But on the Mount of Transfiguration His essential and inward glory burst forth in all its radiancy so that “His face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light” (Matt. 17:2). The glory our Lord normally hid was seen on the mount in all its brilliancy so that Peter declares, “We were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Pet. 1:16).
Every child of God has the Spirit of God indwelling him. He is in Christ and, therefore, a new creation. As the believer beholds as in a glass the glory of the Lord, a process is, or should be, taking place. He is being transfigured into the likeness of our Lord, progressing from glory to glory. In other words, that which the believer is essentially and inwardly, because of the indwelling Holy Spirit, finds expression in outward manifestation. For this is what the text states, “Even as from the Lord the Spirit” (R.V.). The transformation proceeds from the Holy Spirit of God.
Paul gives us this truth again in 2 Corinthians 4:7. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us,” and also in 4:10, “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life (i.e. the resurrected life) also of Jesus might be manifested in our body.” Peter has a smiliar thought in mind when he states “that ye should shew forth the praises (excellencies or glorious attributes) of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
What a high honour is conferred on the believer! He is called to reflect the moral glory and beauty of His adorable Lord. There is, and can be, no higher ambition for the child of God. God has saved us to shew forth to all around, yes, to shew to Himself, the excellencies of our Redeemer.
Let us consider the moral glory of obedience to our Lord. We behold One who, though co-equal with His Father, voluntarily took the place of submission when He said, “Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God” (Heb. 2:9). While here on earth He said, “I came down from Heaven, not to do Mine own will. but the will of Him that sent Me.” His was a life of obedience even to the point of death, and that the death of the cross.
Now as we behold such obedience, as we gaze upon Him, and contemplate His glory, the Holy Spirit of God transfigures us so that the same glory is increasingly given outward expression in our lives. This “beholding” is not just a once for all action, but is a life-time occupation by which the Holy Spirit is transforming us day by day into His very image.
This is just one example, and there are many others. When we consider His purity, His compassion, His grace, His love, etc., it is the Holy Spirit’s delight to so transform us that these glories of our Lord Jesus Christ which are in us because of the Spirit, are given outward expression in our lives.
This may sound like so much theory, and it is, if we do not spend our lives and time “beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord.” However, it need not, and should not, be theory. As Peter, Paul and many a saint since have experienced the transforming power of the Holy Spirit of God so that the very image of Christ’s glory was manifested in them, we too are being changed from glory to glory as we behold in the mirror of God’s Word, the glory of our Lord.
How is it with us, dear child of God? Do we know more of His glory this year than a year ago? Is His glory being displayed in our lives more today than a year ago? If not, we need to ask ourselves, “Why not?” God has made full and complete provision for us for His Holy Spirit indwells each one of us. If we are making it our daily habit to behold His glory, then the Holy Spirit of God will transform and change our outward lives to reflect and display His glories and His excellencies.
Judicially, God sees us conformed even now to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). However, the Spirit of God is endeavouring to change our lives practically day by day to reflect the moral glory of our Lord Jesus. As Moses beheld God’s glory and that glory was reflected in his face, so as we behold the glory of our Lord, the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to change our outward lives into the same image from glory to glory.
What a glorious privilege is ours here and now to display His moral glory day by day! One day we are going to see Him as He is, and then we shall be like Him (1 John 3:2). It will not be a matter of growing then, but we shall be changed like unto the body of His glory (Phil. 3:21). In the meantime, may God grant that each one of us will know the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives.