2 CORINTHIANS 3:7-18
7Now if the ministry of death, chiseled in letters on stone tablets, came in glory so that the people of Israel could not gaze at Moses' face because of the glory of his face, a glory now set aside, 8how much more will the ministry of the Spirit come in glory? 9For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, much more does the ministry of justification abound in glory! 10Indeed, what once had glory has lost its glory because of the greater glory; 11for if what was set aside came through glory, much more has the permanent come in glory!
12Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, 13not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. 14But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. 15Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; 16but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And 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.
Moses vs. Paul
Old Covenant vs. New Covenant
Death vs. Life
Veiled vs. Unveiled
Condemnation vs. Justification
Lesser Glory vs. Greater Glory
I decided to begin this devotional with a list of oppositions as they are found here in this passage. What is the Apostle Paul up to? He is defending his ministry of the new covenant in Christ and in doing so he compares his experience with that of Moses, who mediated the old covenant of Sinai. Paul is the minister of the new covenant; Moses was the minister of the old covenant.
Which is greater? The answer is not really "Paul." The true greatness is centered on Christ and the new covenant as mediated by the Holy Spirit. For Paul's Jewish hearers -- if they were persuaded by Paul' argument -- they would have found themselves entering into a new kind of relationship with YHWH, far beyond the "glory" of the old covenant they learned growing up in the Jewish community.
For the sake of contrast, Paul puts the old covenant under a dim light. But elsewhere, Paul describes the old covenant as "holy," "righteous," "good," and "spiritual" (Romans 7:12, 14). The old covenant, in comparison to what is offered in the new covenant, pales into insignificance not so much because it is bad or awful but because it cannot deliver what the new covenant can deliver: life, justification, freedom, glory, and the true knowledge of God.
To think in contrasts is natural for our human minds. We can't appreciate what we have unless we recognize what we might have lacked. What we have in Christ is beyond our wildest imaginings, so glorious that we ourselves are taken up into that glory, "being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit." We shall be like Christ Jesus! There is nothing greater. There is no greater glory.
Let's pray: Lord Jesus, we thank you for all the wonderful gifts and assurances that come in your name and in you through the Holy Spirit. Whatever "glorious" aspects there were in the old covenant or in any type of spiritual or religious promise elsewhere, we see very clearly now that nothing compares to the glory that comes connected to you. We are so grateful and humbled by the gifts and by you, the Giver. In your name, amen.