Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses, because of its glory, fading though it was, will; not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
2 Corinthians 3.7-11
How often do you think of glory? We speak easily and freely of a glorious view; a glorious sunset; glorious weather; a glorious victory and in terms of conflict the glorious dead. But Paul in these verses is using the word on an altogether different level as he speaks of the ‘glory’ of God and the covenants he has made.
The Old Covenant made with the people of Israel was enshrined in the giving of the Law recorded for us in Exodus 19 and 20 but it wasn’t the law itself that was glorious but the one through whom it came, the Lord himself. At one level though, the ‘law’ was glorious because of the one who gave it and it ‘came with glory’ because of that. That glory was seen reflected in the face of Moses so he covered his face because the glory he reflected was too magnificent for the people to see. It was indeed an awesome day in Israel’s history and yet it was only an interim covenant. Something which would be superseded by another covenant, more glorious still.
The glory at the revelation of that old covenant was accompanied by thunder and lightning and a loud trumpet blast. There was fire and smoke as the Lord descended and Mount Sinai trembled violently, the trumpet sound grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him. Exodus 19. Had we been there we would have been terrified. We would probably not have described it as a glorious day and being so focussed on the physical events might have missed the glory. It is a salutary thought. The law was good, the law was glorious because it came from the God of glory but it was passing because it failed to do what it was designed to do, which was to open the way for sinful man to be right with God through obedience which he could not achieve. He could not live up to the glory. Nor could we have done although we have all probably thought we would have done better!
But there is another glory, namely the ministry of the Spirit, the ministry that brings righteousness! The glory of God’s law pales into insignificance when placed alongside this glory of the New Covenant. For this New Covenant brings ‘righteousness”. So great is the contrast that Paul writes ‘what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory’.
This clearly does not mean that the Ten Commandments, the standard by which God’s people are to live, are redundant but that we are to focus on the glory of that which lasts, namely the way of salvation opened for us through the death of Christ and mediated to us through the Spirit.
In the light of this we should constantly reflect and think about glory, the glory of God, the glory of Christ, the glory of the gospel. When we do so
The things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of his glory and grace.
So turn your eyes upon Jesus today so that you might reflect his glory to others.