Thursday, 2 July 2015
But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, 2 Corinthians 3:7
In the previous verse Paul noted that “the letter kills.” Now he uses that thought to convey an idea concerning the surpassing glory of the gospel. But first he must show how glorious even the Law of Moses was. This law, “the ministry of death,” was “written and engraved on stones.” The Greek literally reads, “Engraved on stones by means of letters.”
This document, the Ten Commandments, was representative of the whole Law of Moses. And it bore a glory that was so amazing that its effects are specifically recorded for us to remember. The account is in Exodus 34:29-35. In short, Paul explains that it was so glorious “that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away.”
The radiation of the glory of God emanated from Moses after he beheld the Divine glory. This was a part of his ministry as the lawgiver to the people. It showed the splendor of what God was doing in the giving and tending to of the law through Moses. And yet, Paul’s words show that this amazing glory which caused this supernatural emanation of light from the face of Moses “was passing away.”
In other words, the law which was given through Moses is being equated with the passing away of the glory of the light emanating from Moses. There would be a time when the law would fade into history, being replaced with something even more glorious. He will explain this in the verses ahead.
Life application: If the glory of God was associated with the giving of the old covenant which was intended to end at the coming of Christ, then how much greater must be the glory in the giving of the new. Let us never presume to return to the Law which has now faded away. Instead, let us proceed onward in the grace of Jesus Christ, adhering to the new covenant which is sealed in His precious blood.
Lord God, You have shown us in the Old Testament how glorious the giving of the Law of Moses was, such that Moses himself radiated that glory. And yet, you have shown us that it was a glory which was passing away. In its place You granted us a new covenant with a glory which is a surpassing glory. Help us to live in this covenant of grace, never turning from it to reinsert that which has passed. Give us wisdom in this, O Lord. Amen.