Degrees of Glory

Thinking about the “veil” tonight.  In our theology cohort, we have been tracing the theme of God’s relational presence through scripture.  (Thank you, Christ Church Cedar Park and Pastor Paul, for valuing the study of theology to lead us into a deeper, richer walk with our Lord!).

In Exodus we learn that when Moses met with God, his face would shine so greatly that it disturbed the people of Israel.  So Moses would wear a veil after talking with God … but he removed the veil in God’s presence.

But whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the Lord.

Exodus 34:34-35

When God gave the instructions for building the tabernacle, He gave specific directions for the curtain or veil that would separate the Most Holy Place from the outer holy place.  While God’s glory filled the tabernacle, there was a separation between the people and God.  No one could pull aside that curtain and even the High Priest entered only once a year.

“Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim woven into it by a skilled worker. Hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and standing on four silver bases. Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the covenant law behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. Put the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant law in the Most Holy Place. Place the table outside the curtain on the north side of the tabernacle and put the lamp stand opposite it on the south side.

Exodus 26:31 -35

It’s that curtain – that veil – that was torn apart when Jesus died (Mark 15:38). The torn curtain symbolized access to God through the death of His Son.  The author of Hebrews writes – 

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body,  and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 10:19-22

I love this – we have confidence, even boldness to enter into God’s presence.  Paul tells the Corinthians in his second letter, when anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away!  The removal of the veil is a gift of the new covenant! And it gets even better!  As we gaze on the Lord, spend time in His presence, walk intimately with Him, we are being transformed … from one degree of glory to the next … to become like him!

Eugene Peterson, in The Message, puts it this way – 

Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18

Let us – with our unveiled faces – contemplate God’s glory so that we can be transformed into His image with ever increasing glory!

Face to face with Christ, my Savior, 
Face to face- what will it be 
When with rapture I behold him, 
Jesus Christ who died for me? 

Only faintly now I see him 
With the darkened veil between, 
But a blessed day is coming 
When his glory shall be seen.

What rejoicing in his presence, 
When are banished grief and pain; 
When the crooked ways are straightened 
And the dark things shall be plain.

Face to face- oh, blissful moment! 
Face to face- to see and know; 
Face to face with my Redeemer, 
Jesus Christ who loves me so.

Face to face I shall behold him, 
Far beyond the starry sky; 
Face to face in all his glory, 
I shall see him by and by.

Carrie Ellis Breck, 1898
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