2Corinthians 3: 7-18 – long version

My journey started in London in 1978.
I had visited Speakers Corner, and listened to a range of people standing on boxes, waving Bibles in the air and shouting about judgement and hell. I walked back to my flat through Hyde Park, wondering how the beauty and splendour of this salvation Jesus gained for us could be portrayed. [thank you to the Guardian for this picture – I do not know what he was speaking about, but it reminded me of my impressions of what was going on that day.]speakers corner 1                  (source)

As I walked I opened my Bible to 2 Corinthians 3, and it changed me forever.
It is a scripture that waits its time.
[Pictures have limitations but hope you enjoy these.]
Moses glory

 

It compares:-

The Old Testament, Exodus 34 :29-35 where Moses had to cover his face after spending time with God receiving the law, [the 10 commandments], as his face was radiant and the people were afraid to come near him.

[source]

dove glory

 

To the New Testament, which in this passage promises a far greater revelation of Gods Glory to those who receive the Holy Spirit.

 

[source]
2Corinthians 3:7,8
‘Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved on letters of 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.’

It is hard to imagine what ‘even more glorious’ could look like! The glory on Moses face was not symbolic so why should the glory of the Spirit be a symbolism and not reality.

v.9
‘If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness’

How ‘much more glorious’ can you get!

v.10
‘For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory.’

They may have thought Moses face was etched with God’s glory, but it looked ordinary compared to what the Spirit will do, just like Jesus new wine made what man thought was the best seem like a cheap substitute.

v. 11
“And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts.

‘How much greater’ is hard to imagine.

Paul has repeated it 4 times. Just in case we didn’t get it the first 3 times.
And then the scripture with the practical answer to how this surpassing glory is achievable in our age of the Spirit comes at the end of this passage. I sometimes hear it quoted but never in the context of the fullness of the promise it contains from the preceding verses.

It is only possible because

v.18
And we ,who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which come from the Lord who is Spirit.’

Let’s look at 2 key words in this passage.

Reflect = behold, or contemplate. It carries implications of stopping and resting in His Presence and opening your heart to His Presence. It doesn’t implicate intercession or spiritual warfare or supplication or repentance, although they are all very valid forms of prayer.
It calls us into a being present with Him.

 

Transformed is an extraordinary Greek word Metamorpho.
Metamorphosis is that transformation that happens inside a chrysalis. The chrysalis is not needing to eat or drink or actively defend itself. It is just allowing the process of transformation that nature has imprinted into its lifecycle to take place.
And it emerges transformed.

This word only appears 3 times in the New Testament, and each time it is translated ‘transformed’ in my NIV version.

2 Corinthians 3:18– it is in beholding we are metamorphosed. That act of intentionally just being in His Presence.

Romans 12:2 – we are metamorphosed by the renewing of our minds so we will not conform to the pattern of this world. So by reading the Bible or learning from others we learn God’s ways and how to think like a Christian.

Mark 9 : 2 He (Jesus) was transfigured – metamorphosed – before them. He took on another form, a spiritual reality.

So my interpretation is that metamorphosis can happen :-

through our minds as we learn,

our hearts as we behold

and our spirits as He reveals who He is to us.

And the result is Glory!

Because of this scripture I have had a journey of learning how to enter Rest. We are so lucky to have the Catholic contemplative traditions to teach us about this wonderful practice, and even in more evangelical or Pentecostal settings there is a new awareness of God calling people to come and Be in His Presence.
But God has also held me firmly in the natural. As a physio I have run stress management seminars, and worked in a private breathing clinic teaching people how to enter calm. I have just written a book ‘Rest: an Art and a Science’ for the marketplace.

You will find that on www.rest.net.nz

First in the natural then in the spiritual. Christians are often so busy that they find it hard to bring their body’s into a deep Rest that will allow their brains to slow down and their hearts to open to God’s Presence and God’s Rest.

Pastor Paul de Jong said recently “stop long enough to listen deep enough”

I think Rest is like gravity. A law of the universe, so that whatever religion or philosophy uses it, it will add treasure that can be found nowhere else. These are in health, emotional stability and creativity. So I want to sell it widely through my book so the Holy Spirit can bring His Peace and Power into people’s lives.

We live in exciting times. I think there is something global happening at the moment as the call to ‘Be’ with God is growing stronger.

I would love to hear from you if you have any opinion, to agree or disagree with what I have said.