Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall continue to consider the “night” side of the law. In 2 Corinthians 3:7 and 9 Paul used all the key words in the title of this message, “The Veil over the Glory of the Ministry of Condemnation and Death.” The words glory and ministry are positive; however, the words veil, condemnation, and death are negative. In 2 Corinthians 3 Paul speaks first of the ministry of death (v. 7) and then of the ministry of condemnation (v. 9). These certainly are extraordinary expressions. Although these terms are in the Bible, not all Christians are familiar with them.
According to Paul’s word in 2 Corinthians 3, the ministry of Moses was a ministry of condemnation and death. Paul’s ministry, however, was a ministry of righteousness and of the Spirit. I wonder if Moses would have been happy with the way Paul contrasted the ministry of righteousness and of the Spirit with the ministry of condemnation and death. In writing 2 Corinthians 3, Paul used “much boldness” (v. 12). He was bold to point out that his ministry was greater in glory than that of Moses. Paul says, “For if the ministry of condemnation came in glory, much rather the ministry of righteousness abounds in glory” (v 9). We know from Exodus 34:29-35 that the skin of Moses’ face shone. Although Paul’s face did not shine in this way, he experienced an inward shining, a shining from within his spirit. With Moses and Paul there were two different kinds of shining: the outward shining upon the face and the inward shining from the spirit. Today all who believe in Christ may have the inward shining. But one day, at the time of the Lord’s coming, we shall be transfigured and shall have the outward shining also. At that time, not only our face but also our whole body will shine.
Some systematic theologians do not appreciate the value of Moses’ ministry. Even though Paul speaks of the ministry of Moses as a ministry of condemnation and death, he acknowledges that there was glory with this ministry. More than three thousand years ago, there was a man on earth whose face shone with the glory of God. This is a very significant matter, and we should never despise it. Along with Paul, we need to recognize that the ministry of condemnation and death was truly glorious. We should not dispute the fact that this glory was wonderful and excellent. It is possible to say in a rather careless way that we, the New Testament believers, have the inward glory, whereas Moses had merely the outward glory. But some Christians actually have a glory only in doctrine, not in their experience. They may claim to be New Testament believers with the inward glory, but where is this glory actually? Experientially speaking, they may have very little glory. Yes, Moses’ glory was outward, but we should still appreciate it.
Paul’s word in 2 Corinthians 3 may be regarded as an exposition of Exodus 34:29-35. In Exodus 34 we are simply told that the skin of Moses’ face shone, not that glory was shining from the face of Moses. But in 2 Corinthians 3 Paul interprets Exodus 34 by saying that the shining on Moses’ face was the glory of the ministry of condemnation and death. Apart from the interpretation set forth by Paul, we would not have the wisdom to speak of the shining face of Moses as the glory of the ministry. Furthermore, we would not have the boldness to say that the ministry of condemnation and death was glorious. But because Paul had been enlightened of the Lord, he was bold to speak plainly of these things. The shining on Moses’ face was the glory of a ministry which had been given by God and established by Him. Moses had a ministry, and that ministry was glorious.
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