13:8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part;10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
There is a definite rhythm to Paul's words. It's almost poetry yet his intent is not to create poetry but rather symmetry by weaving the gifts from chapter 12 into chapter 13 in contrast to love. The gifts are patches. They are a substitute to make up for a lack of love and a road back to it. Let me try and illustrate. My son learned to ride his bike using training wheels. The wheels were a gift. He did not by them. They enabled him for a time to do what he could not do without them - ride his bike. He doesn't use them now. Hasn't for years. He has grown past the need.
What Paul is teaching is that where love is thriving no gifts are needed. Prophecy illuminates God. It points to Him. It uncovers His plans and teaches us that He knows the end from the beginning. It builds our trust in Him. But guess what. When we know His love and love Him in return we don't need prophecy to convince us of anything. We know. The same is true of knowledge. We only need it given as a gift if we lack it. Moses lacked it. He knew stories from his childhood about Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and the God they served. He had a vague idea of Him. Follow the story of his life though and you discover he knew very little of the heart of God until after the incident with the golden calf and the smashed tablets. Moses thought it was all over. He figured they blew it and God was done with them. The God he thought he knew would never forgive such flagrant rebellion. That is until God told him otherwise. The conversation is almost comical in Exodus 33 as Moses begs God to stay with them and God keeps saying He will but Moses keeps begging anyway. His false picture of an unforgiving God deafens him to God's voice. He can't conceive of the possibility God has not given up on them. When he finally heard what God is saying he blurts out "Show me your glory!" It's Moses way of saying "Who are you?!!!"
God agrees to give Moses a glimpse of His glory (his character). It turns out the very first thing God reveals is that He is merciful and compassionate. Moses never knew... and because he did not know God gave him a gift of knowledge. In a singular moment he revealed things that up until then Moses had not known.
What's my point? Had Moses known what love is and that God loved him and Israel inspite of their track record of falling on their faces he would not have needed this great Revelation or gift of knowledge. Love makes all the other gifts redundant. Love includes them all and infinitely more. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love is stronger than death. Love is like a most vehement flame and many waters cannot quench it. Hearts joined by true love can never be separated. With Godly love comes perfect trust, supreme confidence, unquenchable hope, unshakeable faith and so much more. God is love and love has already won. Those who know His love know this, no matter what lies are spread, what tragedies occur, or whatever may come. The war is not ended but the outcome was determined 2000 years ago when Jesus defined His love with His life.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life."
Moses saw some of His glory. Jesus revealed it all.