2 Corinthians 3:15
But even to this day, when Moses is read, the veil is on their heart.
The veil which Moses put on his face (Exodus 34:33) obscured its brightness. The apostle seizes upon the event, so familiar to readers of Jewish history, to illustrate moral blindness, and. especially the moral blindness of Jews in his own day. As moral blindness is subjective, he speaks of the veil, not upon those things which are obscured, as in the case of the face of Moses, but as upon the heart. Upon the heart, because in spiritual matters the inability does not spring from the head, but from the heart. This veil upon the heart -
I. OBSCURES THE GLORY OF THE OLD DISPENSATION. It did so to Jews in Paul's day; it does so to Jews now. The true glory of the old covenant lay in its foreshadowing of the new. It was a covenant of types and shadows. Underlying its legality was a deep spiritualits. The Law condemned, and only condemned, but the "Law" was not the whole of the old covenant. Associated with the Law was the embryo of the gospel. And unveiled hearts looked through condemnation and shadow and type to the delivering Messiah, by whom men could be justified by faith and not by works. But the veil upon the heart caused the Jew to regard the old covenant as complete in itself, and to disregard the deeper spiritual meanings of its provisions. From him its true glory was thus hidden. A rigid system became much more rigid. The wings of a dispensation rising to something higher were clipped. A hard, narrow creed was substituted for an expansive and noble theology.
II. HIDES CHRIST. It did so when Christ came. When the Messiah appeared, veiled hearts failed to recognize him. The Jews would have welcomed a Messiah who came to continue Judaism as Judaism was understood by them. But the development of Judaism into Christianity, the fruition of the old covenant in the new, had no charms for them; on the contrary, it was obnoxious to them in the highest degree, as spirituality is ever to a carnal nature. In the Christ they could not see the Christ. He was not their Christ, and by facile logic was thus demonstrated to be no Christ at all. "Their minds were blinded" (ver. 14). From many today Christ is thus hidden. To them "a root out of a dry ground" is as beautiful as he. They think the fault is in him, but it is in themselves. False conceptions of the objects, duties, and pleasures of life possess them, and are the coloured media through which Christ is looked at. They see a darkened, shorn, maimed Christ; the true Christ is hidden from them.
III. CAUSES MEN TO REST IN SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS. This was the only way of justification which was apparent to the Jew upon whose heart the veil rested. The veil shut out all, except legalism. So with many now. It is their righteousness, not the righteousness of Christ, to which they look. They seek to save themselves, not to be saved by another. Each is a Messiah to himself. But poor rest is secured. The voices of old. sins make themselves heard, and to their clamour no satisfactory response is forthcoming. Present power to do right is found lacking. This is not to be wondered at, seeing that the Source of all true spiritual power has been abandoned. Piety becomes either a vague dream of the future or a dismal formality of the present.
IV. KEEPS MEN UNDER CONDEMNATION. The Law of God condemns, and if only the bare Law is seen there is no deliverance. self-righteousness, if attained to in perfection, would not cancel past sentences on sin. But self-righteousness practically is ever self-unrighteousness, and, instead of atoning for sin, continuously increases it. The most moral man has but the cheerless vision of a broken Law imperiously demanding its penalties.
V. THE VEIL IS REMOVED AS WE TURN TO THE LORD. (Ver. 16.) When the Jew, led by the Spirit, believed on Christ, the veil, which had obscured his vision of the old covenant, and which had thus perverted his being and life, was removed. He saw then the true significance of the old economy, and perceived that Christ, in his own person and work, constituted the very fulfilment of the Law. Old things passed away, all things became new. The veil is destroyed forever as we come to Christ. The apostle has, no doubt, in his mind the action of Moses: "When Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he took the veil off" (Exodus 34:34). Our turning to the Lord is a sign that the veil is rent in twain like the veil of the temple, and as we reach the Lord and are taught by the Divine Spirit, the veil vanishes, obscurity gives place to brightness, and we marvel that we ever could have been as we once were. When Moses came out from the presence of the Lord he again assumed the veil, but he is not here an example to us; for we are not to come out again, but to abide with Christ, to be "forever with the Lord." - H.
Parallel VersesKJV: But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.