3:12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech— 13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. 15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
One of the great themes of the teachings of Jesus was seeing vs blindness. Paul picks up the theme here as he continues to work through the issues in Corinth. A man did something wrong. Who it was or what exactly he did is uncertain. We know a man there took his own father's wife. Whether it is him they are dealing with is uncertain. What we do know is that the man is sorry but the church won't let it go.
To expose to them the error of their ways he uses a series of contrasting terms that we have looked at over the past few days. Yesterday we saw that rejecting a person in whom God is at work by His Spirit is to trample on holy ground.
Today Paul continues that idea. Moses was being shown a side of God he never knew existed. When he had smashed the original tablets of stone in anger, frustration, and hopelessness he assumed their journey with God to the Promised land was over. In his mind God had given a list of requirements which they had agreed to and then promptly broken. The covenant or contract was now nul and void. But God threw him a curve ball. He asked Moses to bring two new tablets and come back up the mountain. He was going to write a new copy. The journey was going to continue. Moses was completely confused. How could this be? When he started to grasp that God was going to continue with them even after their sin, he blurted out "Show me your glory!" It was a way of saying "What kind of God are you?!!" When God answers the request Moses sees what he was blind to all along. God is "merciful and kind, slow to anger and abounding in love."
In fact God was/is so much better than Moses thought that God could only show him as much as he could handle. In fact God basically said "If I showed you all of my goodness you would die."
When Moses returned to the people he was still glowing but they turned from him. They asked him to cover his face. I have experienced this. More than once I have had religious people turn from me when I talked about how good God is. They said I talked too much about His love.
That's the point Paul is making. In Corinth there was a time when they treated sin as no big deal. God says it is a very big deal. Now the pendulum has swung and they are punishing a man even after he has turned from his sin. In all of it they were blind to who God is. They have veiled faces. They are looking at the words and laws and rules but can't see the Lawgiver. They can't see that everything He has done and is doing is designed to bring them restoration and life. He says sin is evil because it is and it will destroy them. He doesn't want that. He also doesn't want us living under the cloud of past mistakes because His mercy endures forever.
Are you still under the veil? Does your reading of the Bible and your religious life consist of dos and don'ts, or rules and regulations? Have you fallen into the trap of thinking Holiness will come to you and others by beating yourself and them with the whips of past mistakes? Are you afraid that if the wounds are allowed to heal through the balm of forgiveness that somehow you're cheating?
If that sounds anything like you, flee religion and pursue Jesus. Climb the mountain again. Take a second look.