In his correspondence to the Corinthians, Paul references the veil of Moses as part of the old covenant and the glory of God on the faces of Christ’s followers as part of the new. All this discussion of old and new covenants and veils, can seem outdated and confusing in our modern lives, yet what Paul was trying to say continues to be relevant today.
The old covenant between God and the Israelites was a powerful pact–so powerful that Moses had to disguise his face in order to speak to the people after receiving the Ten Commandments. The light of God shined so brightly on his face that he put on a veil so as to not scare the people. The people were not ready for the full revelation of God. Thus, the old covenant was a covenant of words in the form of law.
Generations later Paul asks the new Christians of Corinth to lift their veils and to show their faces. What changed in the intervening years? Certainly the power of God had not changed. What had changed was the nature of the covenant between God and the people because of the birth, death and resurrection of Christ. The new covenant was and remains through Christ and what was governed by law previously was and is now governed by the living word or the power of the Holy Spirit. Christ’s sacrifice lifted the veil and further revealed the power and glory of God to Jews and Gentiles alike as they became believers through Christ. Paul rightly asked the Corinthian Christians to lift the veil so that others could see the light of Christ that was available to them, not by law, but by the Spirit.
Paul’s commentary on lifting the veil has at least two important functions relevant today. First, it reminds us that we should have no veil between Christ and ourselves. In other words, we are to reveal ourselves completely to God, not because our secrets are unknown to God, but because our admission or complete revelation allows us to be filled fully with the Spirit. By removing the veil, we remove OUR barriers to the full acceptance of Christ and the Holy Spirit which of course is our ticket to salvation. Secondly, removing the veil allows others to see the power and light of the Holy Spirit through us. This helps us fulfil our evangelistic responsibilities as followers of Christ.
There will always be a human tendency to partially veil ourselves to the world, but we should strive to overcome this tendency. Lifting the veil to Christ is the first step!