The Veil on Moses’ Face
Arnold Mattice is an Accountant retired from General Motors, Oshawa, Ontario. He 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.
3. The Veiled Heart
Paul uses the veil in 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 to indicate the blindness or hardness of the thoughts of the nation of Israel in relation to the Old Testament Scriptures. Verse 14 (R.V. margin) reads, “But their thoughts were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remaineth, it not being revealed that it is done away in Christ.”
Here we have the explanation by Paul concerning Israel’s attitude toward their Messiah. As they read the Old Testament and compared it with the lowly Nazarene, they did not recognize Him because their hearts were hardened — the veil remained. They did not see the glories in the Lord Jesus, nor discover that the ministry of the Law had faded away in Christ. Their thoughts were hardened.
Only a very few in Israel recognized our adorable Lord as their Messiah. A Simeon, an Anna, a Nathaniel along with the other disciples, some women and a few others, saw in Him the fulfilment of the Old Testament Scriptures. For the majority the veil still hid from their thoughts the fact that the ministry of the Law had passed away and that it had been annulled in Christ.
Although He came in lowly guise, surely there was sufficient evidence in our blessed Lord for Israel to recognize Him as their Messiah. As He read from Isaiah 61:1-2 in the synagogue in Nazareth, He pointed out to them that the Old Testament Scriptures were fulfilled in Him when He said, “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21). Again, John the Baptist sent to inquire, “Art Thou He that should come? or look we for another?” (Luke 7:19). Our Lord’s answer to John’s disciples was, “Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard: how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed ,the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached” (Luke 7:22). What more convincing proof of the fulfillment of Old Testament Scriptures could be given to John Baptist? This evidently completely satisfied him; but the nation of Israel as a whole had perverted thoughts. Their own Old Testament Scriptures said, “He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him” (Isa. 53:2).
Romans 11:25 describes this same condition of Israel in the words “blindness (margin, hardness) in part has happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” Poor Israel did not recognize Jesus Christ as their Messiah; the veil remained, for it had not been revealed to them that the ministry of the Law ceased in Christ.
Not only was the veil not taken away when our Lord walked among them, but 2 Corinthians 3:15 states, “Even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart.” We see Israel back in their own land, recognized as a nation, yet still awaiting their Messiah. They still do not recognize Him as they read the Old Testament. When the writer was in the Holy Land three years ago, everything was vibrant with a deep expectancy, but blind to Christ as their true Messiah. They were using the Old Testament Scriptures to determine what crops should be planted in the various areas. Our guide told us they were turning the wilderness into a rose, but the desert they were leaving to The Great Architect. The Old Testament Scriptures are alive and real to them, but they see no beauty in our adorable Lord.
However, we praise God that the day of Israel’s blindness will come to an end. “Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away” (2 Corinthians 3:16). In that day when the heart of Israel turns to the Lord, they will discover Him as their Messiah and the veil will be taken away. They will recognize that the ministry of the Law has passed away and that the sacrifice of Christ was for their transgressions and iniquities and with His stripes alone they are healed (cf. Isa. 53:5). In that day “they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced and they shall mourn for Him as one mourneth for his only son” (Zech. 12:10). The remnant of Israel will one day soon see in our blessed Lord their long looked for Messiah and call on Him. “They shall call on My name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is My people: and they shall say, the Lord is my God” (Zech. 13:9). In that day they will say, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
What a wonderful day awaits Israel and the Gentile nations through Israel! “It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it … He will teach us His ways, and we will walk in His paths … they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isaiah 2:2-4).
Paul describes the salvation and restoration of Israel in the most glowing terms in Romans 11:12, “If the fall of them be the riches of the world and the diminishing (or, loss) of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” Israel’s restoration will be accompanied by great blessing to her and untold blessing to the Gentile nations. As life is to death, so the receiving of Israel will be to this poor sinful world.
Think of the blessing that has resulted to the Gentiles as a result of Israel’s fall — “Salvation is come to the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:11). As we contemplate the many Gentiles who have trusted Christ during this age of God’s grace and the many thousands who have been saved, we can surely say it is “the riches of the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:12). If we believe what Paul teaches in Romans 11, the receiving of Israel will be a mighty out-pouring of God’s blessing unequalled by anything in the past.