As my regular readers may have noticed by now, I just love metaphors. And the Bible is so full of them! The metaphor I’m playing with this week is a veil. As with all biblical metaphors, this reference to a rather mundane object in the natural points us to truths about spiritual reality.
We know that a veil is sometimes used to cover a bride’s face until she approaches her waiting husband-to-be at the altar. He has the honor of “uncovering” her in that moment to reveal her beauty, her identity, and her vulnerability. So important is the heavenly transaction of a wedding covenant that both parties symbolically confirm the identity of the bride being joined to the groom, which is also reinforced by the verbal confirmation of the bride’s father. A veil in this case is meant to conceal identity until it is removed for dramatic effect, and
then the bride makes her vows with an unveiled, radiant face.
A similar reference is made in 2 Corinthians 3:12-16, where Paul recalls the Exodus 34 story of Moses covering his face with a veil because of the brightness of the glory of the Lord radiating from him. Paul concludes,
We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
Moses had been hanging out on the mountain with the Lord, transcribing the words of God’s covenant (the Law, specifically the Ten Commandments) on stone tablets. Apparently being in the presence of the Lord made his face radiant, and the people, even his own brother, were afraid of him. He would put a veil on while he was sharing with the people. Then, when he was ready to climb up the hill and do another round with the Lord, he took the veil off. He wasn’t afraid to approach the Lord with his face uncovered. I think maybe he really enjoyed getting all shiny and glow-y like that!
Paul uses this veil imagery to describe his own Jewish contemporaries who had rejected Yeshua and the New Covenant. Their very minds were covered with a veil, so that they could not comprehend the surpassing glory revealed in the New Covenant, the covenant of the Spirit, the covenant of freedom:
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (v17-18)
Paul clarifies in the next chapter that it is not altogether the fault of the unbeliever. The “god of this age” has caused this blindness, this veiling of the truth (2 Cor 4:4). Paul’s urgent mission (and ours, if we choose to accept it), is to declare Christ, and bring the light and freedom he offers. Only in Christ is the veil taken away. When Christ enters, people walking in darkness begin to see reality with an unveiled face, and all looks different! All is made new.
We, like Moses, boldly come into our Lord’s presence and begin to radiate his Spirit, his power, his light, his love. Our new identity in him is radiated into the world, like the bride on her wedding day.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame. (Ps. 34:5)
I hope you enjoy letting this imagery captivate your imagination, as you turn your eyes upon him, the perfect bridegroom.