2 Corinthians 3:7-18; Exodus 33, 34
Sermon by Pastor Josh Van Leeuwen
Introduction by Phyllis Yearick
If you are familiar with the Bible, you know that it is a Book of books. It’s divided first into two parts, the Old and New Testaments, and then further divided into books, which are subdivided into chapters and verses. One Big Story of God, who created the world and everything in it and is constantly at work sustaining and redeeming it, and who desires a relationship with his children, us human beings, and is willing to go to great lengths to make this relationship possible. One Author, God, and about forty writers, thirty in the Old Testament and ten in the New. The Old Testament, comprising thirty-nine books, goes back thousands of years, starting with the story of the world’s creation and relating, among other things, the history of the Jewish people and God’s relationship with them. The New Testament, comprising twenty-seven books, consists of stories and teachings, including the gospel, and letters that circulated among the early churches.
One vital component of both parts of the Bible is covenant. Through Moses, his chosen representative, God gave the Law, what we know as the Ten Commandments, to the Hebrew people, establishing a conditional pledge to be their God as long as they obeyed him and worshiped him alone. This pledge we know as the Old Covenant. The Law, engraved by God on stone tablets, spelled out how people were to live with God and with one another, and there were severe consequences when it was broken. So the Law both governed and condemned. This is exactly what the people needed; however, their frequent disobedience resulted in God withdrawing his protection and allowing his children to be taken captive by several more powerful nations, losing the land promised to their ancestor Abraham. Still, when they cried out to God in repentance, he heard them and rescued them over and over again, re-establishing them in the promised land. God always held up his end of the covenant, even when his people did not.
Over time, religious leaders added to the Law, piling on corollary after corollary, until no human could possibly obey every single piece of it. But God had already put into place a plan: the Messiah, who would establish a New Covenant with all who believed in and followed him. The Old Covenant, harsh and punitive, would pass away, and the New Covenant would supersede it, offering grace and freedom to all who accept Jesus as Lord. The Old Covenant was chiseled onto stone tablets, sturdy but not indestructible; the New Covenant would be inscribed on believers’ hearts by the Spirit, permanent and unbreakable: a promise of salvation, of sanctification and righteousness, freely given by God through the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus.
After Moses met with God to replace the stone tablets he broke (long story, look it up), he returned to his people dramatically changed. He didn’t realize that his face was glowing from his exposure to God’s glory, but the people made him aware when they ran from him in fear. He covered himself with a veil to mask the fact that the glow faded until he met with God again and renewed it. Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthian church that if the Law given through Moses, the Law that governed and condemned, was glorious, albeit temporarily so, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! If God’s glory shining, then fading, on the face of his servant Moses, the Law bringer, was great, how much greater is the glory shining on us through Jesus, the Light of the world, that lasts! And we who reflect the Lord’s glory are being transformed, becoming more like him, by his Spirit, if we only turn to him and follow. Glorious!
You are welcome at Westview Church! Join us this Sunday morning at 9:30 for worship (Children’s Worship and nursery care available). Sunday, September 8 you are invited to join us for breakfast before worship beginning at 8:30 followed by a special worship service. Then children ages preschool through fifth grade are invited to a meet and greet with their Discovery Hour teachers. Parents of students grade 6-12 are encouraged to attend a meeting in the youth room following the elementary meet and greet. Discovery Hour classes will return Sept. 15.