Three Veils

Audio of Sermon: 

2_Corinthians_3Sermon Notes: 2 Corinthians 3:13-18 (KJV)  And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:  [14]  But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.  [15]  But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.  [16]  Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.  [17]  Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  [18]  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

The Apostle talks of “vails” throughout this text. The word “vail” is the Greek κάλυμμα kalymma which means a curtain, a covering, something that separates. Though women often wore veils in the east for modesty’s sake, in our text today we are introduced to three vales or veils that are significant to the message of salvation. There are:

The Veil of Moses
The Veil of The Temple
The Veil of Unbelief

The Veil Of Moses

God saved Israel by grace. God saves everyone by grace. God started Israel’s salvation by a directive. He told Israel:

Exodus 12:5-13 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. 7 Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.

Grace comes to us through the blood of the Lamb, the sacrifice made. This was symbolic of the Coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, as John the Baptist called Him “The Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Though Christ had not yet come God wanted all to understand His Grace comes through His Christ. So Israel sacrificed the Lamb without spot or blemish, a forerunner of the Christ which we have today:

1 Peter 1:18-19 (NKJV) knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

They sacrificed the Lamb. They marked the home with the blood of the Lamb. God entered Egypt and, as He promised, Judgment fell on every household where the Blood was not found. This Divine Massacre caused Egypt to release Israel. Israel was saved by grace, saved by the Blood, saved by faith.

But Israel hardened their hearts to God’s Grace.

They hardened their hearts to God’s loving provision, and rebelled against His Grace. Eventually the Lord led Israel to Sinai, the Mountain of God. God told Moses to come up the Mountain to receive the Law. The Law was given because Grace was rejected. We are told in:

Romans 5:20-21 (NKJV) Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, 21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God gave the Law to Israel to convict of their sins, to make them realize how much they needed the Savior. As I looked at the giving of the Commandments I discovered an interesting truth I never knew. When God first spoke the Law – the Ten Commandments – He spoke before the words were ever engraved on stone. We are told after God spoke the Ten Commandments:

Exodus 20:18-19 (NKJV) Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. 19 Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

These people had drifted so far away from God that they would not hear Him.
Fear stood between them and their Savior.
“Let not God speak to us, lest we die!”.
Moses looked at the mountain and, loving God, was not threatened by His majesty.
Israel looked at the mountain and, rejecting God, was frightened by His majesty.

Little faith says “You pray for me”. Big faith approaches God.They trusted Moses to speak to God and Moses to speak to them, but they themselves rejected the love of God and His Grace. This is why the Law entered in. Moses told the people:

Exodus 20:20-21 (NKJV) … Moses said to the people, “DO NOT FEAR; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” 21 So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.

Moses loved God.
I want you to notice again the difference between Moses and the people.
The people stood far off from God.
Moses drew near to God despite the darkness.

The Bible says:

1 John 1:5 (NKJV) This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and IN HIM IS NO DARKNESS AT ALL.

Our God is light and love, good and pure. Moses was not afraid of the apparent darkness because he loved God and knew that God loved him. There are times in our lives when things seem to go against us, dark periods, but God is there if we but trust and believe on Him. God enters the darkness so that He can change it.

2 Corinthians 4:6 (HCSB) For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.

If the light is there WITHOUT God it is a bad thing.

If the darkness is there WITH God it is a good thing.
As long as God is there we need not fear.
For God loves us. He loves us.

The people are afraid to go to where God is, but Moses runs to God. He receives the Law for Israel in Exodus 21-23. In Exodus 24 Moses delivers the Law to the people, and we read:

Exodus 24:3-4 (NKJV) So Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the Lord has said we will do.” 4 And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord. And he rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars according to the twelve tribes of Israel.

Israel promised that they would keep God’s Law. So Moses makes another trip up the mountain to receive the plans for the Tabernacle and the stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written. This is in Exodus 25-31. But when Moses comes down the mountain he discovers that the people have violated the very commandments they promised to keep. They made and worshiped a false god, a golden calf of all things. They had betrayed their Savior.

Oh how fickle the human heart is! Moses addresses the sin of the people. There are many who will attend and even support a church faithfully until the preacher addresses sin. As long as the sinner is petted he will stay in the Christian zoo. But once sin is addressed, the exhibits escape back to the world that they love.

After Moses dealt with the sin of the people he headed back up the mountain to talk with God. Moses begged for Grace for the people. And God responded to Moses’ request. God will always respond to a request for Grace. He is the God of Grace.

Pastor Phillip Holmes writes:

when we, his sinful and rebellious prodigal children, spit in his face, wallow in our sin, and grieve his Spirit, he calls us to repentance with open and loving arms saying, “Come home, child.” He’s not ignorant of all the ways we’ve sinned against him. He knows everything we’ve ever done and is able to stomach it. His knowledge of who we really are will never hinder his love for us. He’s even aware of the evil behind our righteous deeds. The intimacy by which the Lord knows us but is able to lovingly embrace us as his children is supernatural. God’s grace is mind-blowing. Every time I think of this reality, I’m brought to tears because I serve a God whose love and grace baffle me.

When Moses headed back up the mountain to receive the Law a second time we read:

Exodus 34:6-9 (NKJV) … the Lord passed before {Moses} and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” 8 So Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped. 9 Then he said, “If now I HAVE FOUND GRACE IN YOUR SIGHT, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray, go among us, even though we are a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your inheritance.”

I want you to notice that even in the giving of the Law GRACE ABOUNDED.

Moses went up the mountain by Grace.
He came down the mountain by Grace.
He went up the mountain again by Grace.

When Moses came down the mountain this time the Bible tells us that:

Exodus 34:29-35 (NKJV) … when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses’ hand when he came down from the mountain), that MOSES DID NOT KNOW THAT THE SKIN OF HIS FACE SHONE WHILE HE TALKED WITH HIM. 30 So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, THE SKIN OF HIS FACE SHONE, AND THEY WERE AFRAID TO COME NEAR HIM. 31 Then Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the rulers of the congregation returned to him; and Moses talked with them. 32 Afterward all the children of Israel came near, and he gave them as commandments all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. 33 And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face. 34 But whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with Him, he would take the veil off until he came out; and he would come out and speak to the children of Israel whatever he had been commanded. 35 And whenever the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone, then Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with Him.

Moses stood before God not by Law but by Grace. He spoke to God by Grace. And though he carried the Law of God to Israel, Moses was very much a recepient of the Grace of God. I believe it was this Grace that was making his face shine. Grace brought Moses into proximity to the glorious God we love, and that proximity caused his face to reflect the glory of God. The Apostle tells us that …

2 Corinthians 3:13-18 (KJV)  And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:

Moses put the veil on his face so that they could not look to the end of that which is abolished. What is that a reference to? The Bible tells us that …

Romans 10:4 (NKJV) … For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

The Law was given because Grace was rejected. The shining face of Moses was the fruit of Grace. Israel saw this shining face and rather be attracted to it were repelled. Why? Because they were in unbelief. The veil of Moses covered the Grace that he enjoyed because of their own sinful hearts.

The Veil Of The Temple

Through the Law God gave Israel first a Tabernacle, then once they were in the Promised Land a Temple where they were to worship God. In that Temple a veil separated the Holy of Holies – a place that symbolized the Presence of God – from the rest of the Temple. We are told in:

Hebrews 9:2-8 (NKJV) … a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; 3 and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, 4 which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. … 6 Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. 7 But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; 8 the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. …

The veil separated the people from God. That veil represented the sins of the people. We are told in:

Isaiah 59:1-2 (NKJV) Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. 2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.

Sin separates us from God. This is what the veil of the Temple signified. The High Priest went into the Holy of Holies once a year with blood to make atonement for the people and for himself. Again, this was temporary, an act of Grace. The Bible tells us that when Jesus Christ died on Calvary:

Matthew 27:50-51 (NKJV) … Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. 51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,

The veil of the Temple was thick. It was around 60 feet high, and was composed of blue, purple, and scarlet material. As Jesus died the True Lamb of God was sacrificed for the sins of the world. On that day God destroyed the Holy of Holies, exposing it to the world, because the Blood of Jesus Christ is sufficient for all our sins FOREVER. We are told:

2 Corinthians 3:16 (KJV) Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.

The veil of the Temple was taken away because of Christ. We are told that the first Covenant – the Covenant of Law – was given because of unbelief. The first Covenant was written on stone. But through Christ there is a returning to Grace. God says:

Hebrews 10:16-25 (NKJV) This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR HEARTS, AND IN THEIR MINDS I WILL WRITE THEM,” 17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. 19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

Through the veil of Christ’s flesh the old veil was torn. No longer do we come unto God by the Law and by sacrifices, but we come unto Him in love and in faith.

But there is one other veil we need to discuss.

The Veil Of Unbelief

2 Corinthians 3:14 (KJV) But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.

The Veil of the Temple was done away with in Christ, but many still cling to the Veil of Unbelief. Some still reject Christ even today, choosing to lay veil on their hearts. They cling to salvation without Christ, believing good works will bring them into union with God. But they are wrong.

It was Grace, not Law, that brought Moses to the mountaintop with God.
It is Grace, not Law, that brings us to the mountaintop with God today.

We who are saved come to God without the veil of the Temple and without the veil of the Law. We come “with open or unveiled faces”. Like Moses, we look upon God in faith, heed His Word, and love Him with all our hearts.

2 Corinthians 3:18 (KJV) But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

And as we behold our Beloved Savior the Holy Spirit slowly changes us, just as He changed Moses. We shine as he shined. The Grace of God our Savior makes us shine. Oh that all would approach the Lord, seeking His Grace! It is by looking on our Savior that we are lightened. It is by looking on Jesus that our sins are forgiven. It is by trusting Him that we are saved to be like Him, changed from glory to glory.

May God touch someone with His Word this very day.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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