Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Veil is Lifted

2 Corinthians 3:15-18, Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; 16 but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

Follow me here…this is referring to a passage in Exodus. I have to give it to you, because it adds so much richness to what Paul is saying. The Israelites asked Moses to use a veil because they were so frightened of the evidence of God left on his face. So, when he would talk to the Israelites after speaking to God, he would put on a veil to hide his face.

Exodus 34:29-35, Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses spoke with them. 32 Afterward all the Israelites came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. 33 When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face; 34 but whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would take the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 the Israelites would see the face of Moses, that the skin of his face was shining; and Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

Paul is saying in Corinthians that this same veil still exists today. People are still insisting on covering the glory of God, and shielding themselves from the consequence of exposure. To this day, the law that God revealed through Moses is filtered with the same veil, not covering the face, but the mind.

I understand the intimidation of God’s glory. Have you ever had God bump up your prayer life a notch? When I experience Him in a new way, with new intimacy, it can feel like my heart is going to explode. His glory is so evident to me and the only way it seems to survive is trusting that the Spirit is in control. The veil has been completely removed and it is just me and God.

When I teach, I definitely see the veil. Sometimes, I see so many blank stares I think, “Am I in the right book?” We all have had that experience. Some people veil their minds from the consequence of experiencing God. It is frightening to be face to face with God’s glory and there are some who simply retreat and re-veil, protecting themselves from what they do not understand.

To unveil this face, there is one simple action. It is only by changing our orientation that the veil can be removed. A decision of the will can lead us to spiritual freedom and understanding. It is a point of confusion that God does all of the work. In most things, we are responsible for a change in orientation. This is the most difficult human decision that we are required to make in our spiritual lives. It is always in the change of orientation that our feet seem to stick to the floor. Our flesh resists these changes.

After this, however long it takes, the path to freedom is Spiritually handled. We play no part except this initial turning. Through orienting ourselves to God, the veil is removed for us. God takes away anything that could cover us, protect us from His glory.

In turn, we look around and see this community of believers, these unveiled faces, reflecting the glory of the Lord like we were mirrors of Him. He loves us so much that He wants for us to reflect Him, so brightly that people cannot look directly into our face. This is what Sunday mornings, and every day, should look like.

It is a beautiful picture. When I think of an unveiling, I always think of a bride. Isn’t the most beautiful thing in the world a woman being unveiled in the face of her bridegroom? The anticipation is right, the excitement, and the commitment into covenant. That is exactly what happens when we participate in this process. We orient ourselves toward that altar and head out for our bridegroom. Then we find ourself face-to-face with the Lord… and He lifts our veil. I have never seen a bride without a smile at this point in the ceremony.

Little by little, and day after day, we are transformed from glory to glory. He grows us into a deeper relationship with Him, until we think that our hearts are going to pop. What an amazing God!

I think that it is important to be reminded that each of us has that opportunity to shine simply by where we are standing. How is your orientation, today?

Father, thank you for lifting our veils. Thank you for trusting us intimately with your reflection. Let us reflect you, boldly to the world, today. Show us how to be completely oriented to you.

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