We have been talking about walking in the light of our Lord and Saviour’s countenance. It is light that changes us, as Paul shows when he compares the glory of the old covenant with that of the new.
Moses when he came down from the mountain after communing with God did not know that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him (Ex. 34.29). When the people saw him they shielded their eyes, could not look steadily into his face, could no more look on his face than look at the sun.
But then the glory on Moses’ face began to fade. So he covered his face. He could not let the people see the fading glory—and he refused to minister without that glory. So he went into the tent he had set up, and took the veil off while he communed further with the Lord. Then, recharged as it were, he would come out and talk with the people again, till the glory began to fade again.
What Moses did was prophetic of the whole dispensation of the old covenant—and also of the blindness of the hearts of the people under that covenant. Paul called the old covenant a “ministration of death” that would one day come to its end; its glory would come to an end. But tragically, most of those who were bound under that covenant refused to acknowledge that it was over; there was a veil upon their hearts that prevented them from seeing that the Sinai covenant was history.
For, God had brought in a new covenant—one whose glory was never going to fade. Those who drew nigh to God by this covenant would, with unveiled face, behold the glory of the Lord in the face of Jesus Christ, and be transformed “into the same image from glory to glory.”
“To this day,” grieved Paul, that same veil remained on their hearts in the reading of the old testament. We may well say in our day it is still there—even in the reading of the new testament. For “the letter” of the Scriptures has no power to change; it is “the Spirit that gives life” (2 Cor. 3.6).
And so Paul adds this:
Nevertheless, when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away (2 Cor. 3.16).
He has in mind Moses returning to commune with the Lord, and taking away the veil while he talked with Him.
Let us not miss what Paul says next. With apostolic authority and Holy Spirit inspiration, he brings this old testament picture right up into the new covenant. “Now the Lord,” he says, referring to this passage about Moses returning to commune with the Lord, “is the Spirit…”
It is in unveiling our hearts to the Spirit of the Lord that we discover the shining face of the Lord Himself.
And in this light what do we discover?
“…And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
What does he mean—liberty? This. The covenant of the law was a covenant that “gendereth to bondage” (Gal. 4.24). The Sinai covenant brought forth children of bondage. It was “a yoke of bondage” (Gal. 5.1). Rather than liberating from sin, it actually intensified sin in the heart of man, and brought them deeper into captivity to the law of sin and death (Rom. 7.23). But the new covenant—the perfect law of liberty—minsters grace to the hearers and sets them free from the law of sin and death, empowering them with the quickening power of Life to do the will of God. As Paul says in another place—and I wonder sometimes if this is not the most wondrous verse in the Bible:
The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath set me free from the law of sin and death.
The new covenant walk is a walk in the Spirit, a walk in the light of His countenance. A walk in liberty. A transforming walk.
…Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
But we all with open (unveiled) face beholding as in a glass (mirroring) the glory of the Lord are changed into the same image from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord (that is, the Lord the Spirit).
This is what the light of His countenance does as we walk in it. It is new covenant light that changes us into the same image we see in the mirror. It is true light, making true in us what is true in Him (1 Jn. 2.8).
Let us keep looking into this mirror!