|Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9 If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! (2Corinthians3:7-11)|
His thoughts go to the Old Testament account where Moses went up Mount Sinai to receive the Law (including the Ten Commandments) in the presence of the Lord. When he came down has face shone with the glorious holy presence of the Lord although it faded over time.
Moses' "glow of glory" ("Shekinah" in Hebrew) got Paul thinking: If this was how glorious the giving of the Law was, then how glorious is the news of God's salvation in Christ and the coming of the Spirit into our hearts?
Technically speaking, the law brought death and condemnation because, although it revealed the glorious nature of our holy God, it also revealed our utter lack of holiness and righteousness. The law, by its very goodness, revealed our complete brokenness. The law, though good in the sense that it revealed God and could regulate and guide society, couldn't save us.
The gospel doesn't only show us what righteousness is, but imputes it to us. The coming of the gospel was therefore much more glorious than the coming of the law.
Paul picks up a nice image - Moses face glowed with the glory of the Lord - people could not look at it steadily because it revealed the holiness and righteousness of God. But this glory faded from Moses' face over time, (according to Ex.34 Moses would go into the "Holy of Holies" and his face would once again shine). It faded because hearing the law and seeing God's glory couldn't change the fact of Moses' basic sinfulness, eventually his brokenness would drive the glow of divine glory from his face.
But with the gospel we are pronounced forgiven!
Furthermore, the Holy Spirit takes away our heart of stone and gives us flesh hearts - we can shine "like a city on a hill" because Jesus-in-us is the "Light of the world." This light doesn't have to fade because it doesn't depend on us.
It's a glorious hope!!!
I'll be taking a break from writing the EmmDevs over the holidays and will resume at the start of term 3.
Hope you've found them helpful!