“Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 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. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 3:12-18 ESV
Do you struggle to read the Old Testament? Perhaps you have heard that we need the Old Testament to understand the New, and vice-versa? This is true. God’s plan for salvation can be traced like a golden thread from Genesis straight through to Revelation…if our spiritual eyes are open, our hearts softened, our minds renewed.
The second letter to the Corinthians is no different in referring back to the Old Testament. In the above passage Paul speaks about Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness. But what is this veil that he is speaking about? Let me provide you with some context.
Exodus 34:29-34 tells us that whenever Moses came down from Mount Sinai, after speaking to God, his face would be shining and the Israelites would be frightened. So Moses put a veil over his face whenever he came back from talking to the Lord.
Since God is the personification of holiness, purity, righteousness and justice, no sinful creature can approach Him – they would be struck down instantly. Consequently, the Israelites had to be consecrated and were not allowed near God’s Holy Mountain. Moses served as an intermediary between God and His people.
Fast-forward to the letter to the Corinthians in the New Testament, Paul spoke of those who read the Old Covenant (or Old Testament) as if it was still “veiled” to them, like Moses coming from Mount Sinai after speaking to God. Why would it still be “veiled”? Paul gives us the answer: “their minds were hardened” and it is “only through Christ” that the veil is taken away.
What does this mean? Through Jesus’s death, resurrection and glorification the “veil” between us and God has been removed – there is no need for it anymore. Jesus, who took on our sins on the cross, became “the new and better Moses” as intermediary between us and God, being perfectly both human and God. We approach God through Jesus – He is the Way, Truth and Life (John 14:6).
How does this change the way we read and understand the Old Testament? Since all God’s promises find their “Yes” in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20), we should aim to SEE Jesus in all the books of the Old Testament. In more ways than one, all of them point forward to Jesus. When we turn to the Lord, the Holy Spirit gives us freedom and opens our eyes (the “veil” is lifted) to see Jesus for who He truly is.
Do you need help to see Jesus in the Old Testament? Do not hesitate to seek the help of your pastor or Bible Study Leader.