But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
So all of us who have had that veil removed
can see and reflect the glory of the Lord.
And the Lord—who is the Spirit—
makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
2 Corinthians 3:16-18
Have you ever wondered what “the veil” is? I have. Just what veil is big enough to be able to prevent us from seeing the Lord and to rob us of freedom?
One word answer: Fear.
Maybe I’m a slower learner, but it’s taken me a long time to put all the pieces together.
You find the background to the veil in 2 Corinthians 3 verses 7 and 14.
The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death,
though it began with such glory that the people of Israel
could not bear to look at Moses’ face.
For his face shone with the glory of God,
even though the brightness was already fading away.
But the people’s minds were hardened,
and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read,
the same veil covers their minds
so they cannot understand the truth.
And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ.
From some reason I always thought the veil was God’s idea to protect the Israelites. Not so. Did you catch it in verse 7 “it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face”? Out of fear of the glory they were seeing the people asked Moses to cover his face. Out of fear of God’s presence when Mt. Sinai trembled with the power of God and lightning flashed around it – the people basically told Moses “very dangerous – you go first, we’ll stay here” rather than follow the instructions God provided for how they could approach safely. (Exodus 20:18-19)
Their fear was bigger than their faith and from that they created their belief system, i.e., their box, that the presence of God is dangerous, too many unknowns and therefore unmanageable. They only wanted to be as close and see as much as fit within their comfort level.
That veil still exists today in many of our lives and it is a 2-edged sword. We want to box God into a definition we can understand so that He is “safe” and even “proper”. Yet we very much need the fullness of His power which is beyond what we can comprehend to permeate us and our world in order to experience the freedom from fear He has for us and the supply for all our needs (Phiippians 4:19).
It’s pretty hard to have hope when you’ve boxed God into a nice set of parameters that make Him “safe and proper” and don’t stretch your comfort zone, rather than accepting that God, the Creator of the Universe that is still expanding, is exceedingly, abundantly above all we can dare to dream to ask. So much so that allowing Him to remove the veil and to reveal Himself to us can feel like “the edge of all the light we know” as we are required to step by faith into the darkness of the yet unknown.
Everyone around Jesus had lots of questions, but to those that chose to believe in Him and to get close to Him … they were undone by His kindness, His love, His healing power. Those that chose to stick with “their box of what they understood God to be” — the Pharisees who were the religious leaders of the day — missed what was right in front of them. Jesus did not fit in their box so everything for which they had longed and waited, they missed receiving.
It’s the same for us you know if we choose to be afraid of being close to God. If we believe we must “understand everything about Him” before we can trust Him – we are cutting ourselves off from the very One who has exactly what we long for, exactly what we need.
How do I know there is no reason to fear? God only revealed to Moses what He knew Moses would be able to withstand. He passed by telling Moses “I am Merciful, Gracious, Slow to Anger, Abounding in Loving Kindness and Truth”. But, He only allowed Moses to see a portion of Him, enough to change Moses so that Moses glowed with God’s glory, but no more for Moses did not have the capacity to contain it. (Exodus 33:21-23, Exodus 34:6)
If you are feeling hopeless, filled with despair and at the end of your rope — I have VERY good news. There is more rope! An endless supply of rope actually :) .
The catch is you must make the choice to believe God is actually as Jesus revealed Him — kind, merciful, loving, healing while at the same time powerful enough:
- to feed five thousand with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes (Matthew 14:17-20)
- to cause blind men to see, lame men to walk, deaf to hear, sick to be healed, and the dead to be raised (Matt 10:7-8)
- to cause the earth to darken and shake and to tear the veil from top to bottom that had separated us from our Heavenly Father (Matt 27:45 & 51)
- to raise Jesus from the dead (Mark 16:6).
That’s quite a combination.
Photo courtesy of From The Heart
Jesus glory definitely did not fit into “Saul’s box”. It actually blinded him at first until Saul accepted that which he did not have any frame of reference to understand, Jesus being the Messiah. Saul letting go of “his box” changed Saul’s very identity to Paul, the instrument God used to write the majority of the new testament. (Acts 9:1-17)
The choice is yours, the veil of fear to keep God “manageable” or allow Jesus to remove the veil to bring you intimately into the indescribable fullness of God’s presence where God’s purposes to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future will be fulfilled (Jeremiah 29:11) as His glory fills you and transforms you.
Now that is unconditional, limitless hope!