“A BETTER VIEW” Exodus 34:29-35, 2 Corinthians 3:12 – 4:2

“A BETTER VIEW” Exodus 34:29-35, 2 Corinthians 3:12 – 4:2

– Jesus was glorified on the mount of transfiguration in a way that exceeded God’s glory revealed to Moses on Sinai. Christians are called to have no veils. What veils do we have that keep us from seeing the Glory of God?


Veils have often been used to separate things and hide people. Since ancient times, noble women have worn veils to indicate status and to block the suns harsh rays. Women to this day still wear veils at funerals and weddings. The use of veils is not exclusive to women. In the Tabernacle, the first house of worship that God instructed the Israelites to build in the wilderness, a veil was used to separate people from the Most holy place where the ark of the covenant resided. The same was true in the first and second temples in Jerusalem. Even today, in Jewish Synagogues, and in Catholic and Orthodox Churches, the Torah scrolls and the Bread and Wine of the Lord’s Supper are stored under a veil.


A veil’s only function is simply to hide or filter something. Even a clear plastic veil still blocks some UV light. Most often, the veil is used to separate something that is Holy or Special, or to hide something that you don’t want anyone to see. God’s glory used to be hidden under veils in times before Jesus ministered on the earth.


Paul, in our scripture from Second Corinthians this morning, tells us not to hide God’s glory behind anything. You see, Moses wore a veil after he received the Law from the Lord. In the book of the Exodus, we read that after the Lord led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, the Lord gave the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Law to Moses. Moses spoke with God for 40 days and 40 nights on the top of the mountain, in the Desert of Sinai, receiving all the words of the Lord.


In our Hebrew Bible passage today, we read that Moses was changed by his encounter with God. His face shined out like a radiant light. It was so bright, that the Israelites were afraid of Moses. It was so bright and awesome, that Moses put on a veil to hide his face. The only times that Moses removed his veil, is when he was in the presence of God, speaking with God, and when he was telling all the Israelites what the Lord had commanded him to say. Later, the Glory of God was present in the first and second temples in Jerusalem, but it was still veiled, or blocked from view. People only caught a glimpse of the Glory of God for tiny moments here and there. That is the way it was for over a thousand years, as Israel’s story built up to an event that changed everything… the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


Then, everything changed. You see, Jesus set us free from the Law of Moses. The old covenant is fading away, but the new covenant is an everlasting covenant, as Jesus told the disciples during the last supper. This is everlasting covenant that we are sealed into when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper together in just a few short minutes. How much more glorious is the EVERLASTING COVENANT that God made with us in Jesus Christ than the conditional covenant that God made with us through the Law of Moses?


Paul says to us, things are different now… Do not veil this glory of the Lord that we have received from being baptized into the saving death of Jesus! That’s right, we who believe in Jesus have God present with us 24/7 through the power of the Holy Spirit within us.


Every day that we chose to believe in Jesus, we are being transformed into a glorious new creation. That’s right… our spirit is shining as we change to become like Jesus. Obviously this shine is much softer than the blinding light that shone from Moses. But in time, we will all be brilliant with the same glow that Jesus possessed when he was transfigured on the mountain with Peter, and James, and John. In Romans 8:29 we read “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” But our transformation is only complete when Jesus returns, and we are risen from the dead to live with God and each other forever.


Until then, we have the freedom to shine God’s glory in a way that everyone can see. We are not like others who do not understand Christ. Paul says that those who do not believe in Christ have, “their minds [were] made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.” So we should not act like those who are dull, and do not understand how to behave.


In simple language, Paul tells us to make sure that we do not conceal or distort the glory of God that is found in us as we live for Jesus. All this complicated talk of veils is an instruction that we are to be outward focused and not inward focused. The main message I want us all to take from the scriptures today is that we should be bold in our witness to Christ by going out into the world, and not keeping God’s glory all to ourselves.


Jesus marked a shift in ancient Israel. The religion of the Israelites was pretty much a closed system. Sure, there were some converts, but mainly, the Israelite people were interested in keeping separate from the world. That is what the word Pharisee most likely means… separate. That is how the Israelites treating the glory of the most Holy God.


Even when many Jews began following Jesus, the traditional view of being a holy, separate people made them want to veil the Glory of God. Most likely these Israelites wanted to stick to the Law of Moses and all its regulations which were intended to set Israel apart from the nations. But Paul tells us not to veil Gods Glory, but to be Bold. Paul says, “we have renounced secret and shameful ways.” And Paul says that when we, “set forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.”


Paul, and Jesus want us all to give as many people as possible the best view of God’s glory that we can. In order to do that, we must discover the things and practices that we use to block the view of God’s glory.


This is where the rubber hits the road for the church. We have to resist the urge to veil the glory of God. What do I mean? I am talking about missions and evangelism. Missions and Evangelism is much more than a committee that sends money to starving children in Africa. It is a way of life. It is something that happens person to person in the world. It is not reserved for special evangelists that hand out religious pamphlets at the mall. It is a way of being in the world that shines the light of Jesus in the world.


There are two common ways that congregations veil people’s view of the Glory of God. I would like to explain them, and also add couple ways that a congregation can work to lift that veil.


First, Congregations veil the Glory of God by focusing on bringing people into church space, instead of going out to theirs. If our ministry strategy exclusively involves people coming into the physical church space, we are focusing inward instead of outward. I think this happens more often than we even realize. For example, if our outreach strategy is simply to get more young families be present in the church, we are veiling God’s glory. It is almost like we are telling people, hey, we have the salvation of God! Come to church this Sunday and you might see a glimpse. When we act like this, we are concerned with the wants and needs of our membership more than with the wants and needs of the people in the community. Our objective should be to physically bring Jesus to the world by physically going and reaching out to others in truth and love. After all, the most important word in the Great Commission that Jesus gave us in Matthew 28 in my opinion is “GO” and make disciples. Jesus did not say “STAY” and make disciples.


If you are feeling like you might be in the “STAY” camp, there is a way to lift the veil to give others a better view of the Glory of God. Simply put, start or get involved in some activity that shows the glory of God out in the community. One example might be to volunteer your time to spend time with the elderly who are confined to a care facility. We have a ton of them in the area, and you don’t have to be especially skilled or youthful in order to do it. You only need to have a desire to love others for the sake of Jesus. And when people ask you, why are you so giving of your time and so nice, you can say. It’s the least I can do for Jesus, who rescued me from my problems and loneliness.


Second, Congregations veil the glory of God when the members of the congregation are afraid to be real with people. God’s glory shines out from us most brightly in our own personal transformation process. In other words, we shouldn’t pretend to be something we are not. We need to let people know when we struggle with God, and what we really think. Paul tells the Corinthians, “we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God.” When we share all of ourselves, including our If God’s Glory is present in each of us, when we are not authentic with others, we veil that Glory of God from other people. This is true for Christians both within the worship service and church activities and out in the world.


One example of a person not being real in church activities is when we only share the shallow and positive things that are happening with us, and not the deep, or negative ones. If I always tell people I am blessed, and I don’t share my ups and downs with people, you will never be able to see how God is transforming my life. You won’t see the glory of God breaking out as I move through real life events. Now, it is not a lie to tell people I am blessed all the time. It is true. But it is secretive and deceptive. For example, if someone really wants to know how I am doing, I should tell them.


Out in the world, it is easy to be deceptive and manipulative to try to convince others to accept Jesus, or to get involved with the congregation. I had a lab partner in college who invited me over to his apartment to play Doctor Mario on Nintendo. When I arrived, guess what, there was a bible study going on in the living room. This is an extreme example, but it was straight up deception. My lab partner lied to me. Thank God that I had a roommate a few years later that what honest and real with me about church. I noticed as I got to know him over the years, that he was growing and changing into something better. I asked him what it was, and he said, “It’s God working on my life.” He invited me to church. I will never forget I asked him if it was lame… he said that I would probably hate the singing part, but that I should listen to the preacher. He was honest. And he was right.


There are more ways that congregations can veil the Glory of God from others. It happens when we expect others to find us by coming to our own worship space, on the church property, and it also happens when are not real, both in and out of the congregation.


But the glory of the Lord is not just physical light, it is the evidence of God’s transforming presence in our lives, which shines out to others, and draws them to God.