The glory of Jesus
We got our first house phone in the mid-sixties. It was the rotary dial model with a cradle base and a curly cord. Mum and dad had to put their names on a long waiting list and when the phone became available, the engineer came to connect it to the party line. That meant that we shared our line with another household and when they were on the phone we could listen-in to their calls (and vice versa), but we couldn’t phone out. Around that time, only two thirds of the country could reach a phone number more than 15 miles away! Who would have thought that technology would advance so much that we would walk around today with cordless handheld devices which facilitate not just phone calls, but emails, banking, directions, reading, listening to music, videos and podcasts, sending photos and so much more! What seemed to arrive in a blaze of glory as state-of-the-art telecommunications has now been consigned to the annals of history as an early stage in the development of our modern-day communications system! The old served its purpose but has now been replaced with something infinitely and unimaginably better!
In today’s passage, Paul is contrasting two vastly different stages in God’s plan to reconcile humanity in a fallen world to himself, the second building on and immeasurably surpassing the first.
The first stage in God’s redemption plan was the introduction of the Law, specifically the Ten Commandments, to the Israelites during the Exodus. God wrote the Commandments on tablets of stone while Moses was communing with Him on Mount Sinai. When Moses came down the mountain with the tablets, we are told in Exodus 34:29 that the ‘skin on his face shone’. Paul refers to this state of being, as ‘glory’. When the law was delivered to the people of Israel, it was accompanied by the glory of the Lord reflected in the face of Moses.
God knew, when He furnished the Law that it was only ever intended to be a transitional phase, but it had a powerful purpose. It gave the Israelites something against which to measure sin. Without a concept of sinfulness, there would be no understanding of salvation. The law was brought forth in glory because it signalled the need for a saviour – Jesus. The law had no power to save. It only had the power to show people where they were going wrong, falling short, not measuring up.
God’s second stage in the salvation of humanity was Jesus’ death and resurrection to defeat sin and death. We are no longer measured against the law, but live in the grace and freedom that Jesus purchased for us when He took all our sins upon himself at the cross. If the Law, which was temporary in nature, was established amidst great glory, how much greater the glory of the permanently risen Christ!
We can be bold, because we place our hope in the new, most glorious covenant, where God made a way for us to get back into a right relationship with Him. Those who still live under the Law and do not recognise Jesus have a veil over their hearts, but when Jesus is Lord of our lives, the veil is removed! We live in His glorious freedom, and as we seek Him, we will be transformed into His image, day by day, from glory to glory! Amen!