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The Veil

2 Corinthians 3:16-17, “But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”

The Lord is the Spirit” means—I think—that, post-ascension, the Lord (typically Christ in Paul’s writings) is seen and known and received and communed with in the Spirit. The Spirit is the One in whom and by whom we receive the Lord; He is the shining of God by whom and in whom we receive the light of the knowledge of the glory of the Father in the face of the Son. If we are going to behold the glory of God, we will behold Him by the Spirit in the Son.

More ought to be said on Paul’s difficult unique uses of “Lord” in this section, but what I want to focus on is the removal of the veil….Paul has taken the imagery of a veil over Moses’ face and turned it into a veil over the people’s heart. However, in addition to those two images, one finds it difficult to believe that such a thouroughly Jewish mind as Paul’s could speak of a “veil” without also alluding to the veil of the holy of holies as well, a veil that—like the one over the radiant glory of Moses’ face, cuts a person off from the presence of the Lord, YHWH.

If so, it’s interesting to consider the glory of God resting on Moses’ face as something of a “holy of holies” that had to be veiled off from the people. It is even more intriguing to consider the veil separating Moses’ face and the veil separating the holy of holies as being—not ultimately veils that cut a small part of the world (Moses’ face / the holy of holies) off from the real and larger world—but rather as veils that divided a cramped and sinful space (the sinner’s heart) off from the fullness of reality in God.

Its as if all the real world, all the universe of glory, is in the holy of holies whereas the veil that seems to separate it from everything else is, in truth, just a veil over human hearts……the real world is “in there,” the real, full, free world is behind the veil, within the holy of holies, in the presence of God…..all the world on “this side” of the veil is just the drab and dreary projection of my sin-enslaved, glory-blinded heart. The human does not really wake up to reality, does not really become truly free until the veil separating them from the glory of the Lord (which is really just a veil over their own heart) is taken away.

To see the Glorious One as glorious, to behold and recognize the glory of God in the face of the crucified Christ by the Spirit…this is freedom….this is coming out of the cramped spaces of our veiled hearts and into the wide country of His glory.  As long as we do not know what glory is, as long as we have not seen the Beauty of God by the Spirit at the cross of the Son, we are still enslaved, still bound, still caged behind the veil of our heart.

To see and know Beauty is to be free—if, by Beauty, we mean “the Name of God manifest in Jesus Christ.”