2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2 (NIV)
12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.
13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away.
14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.
15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.
16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
1 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.
2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
Though the light shines on things unclean, yet it is not thereby defiled.
Thought on This Week’s Texts
In every life and in every community we face challenges and struggles that threaten to overwhelm us. Sometimes our response is that of the disciples – to fall asleep, or to check out of life in order to avoid the pain. But the transfiguration offers an alternative in a twofold call. Firstly, we are invited to encounter God anew, and be filled with hope and courage as we meditate on the glory of the incarnate Christ. Secondly, we are invited to open ourselves to our own transfiguration – to be transformed and to begin to reflect God’s glory ourselves. Of course, as with Christ, embracing God’s glory is also embracing the cross – the suffering of staying awake, and meeting our challenges head on. As we encounter the transfigured Christ again this week, may we refuse the false comfort of quick fixes, and set our minds toward the tough journey of real transformation – in our relationships, our finances, our health, our community’s upliftment, and the course of our nation and our world.
Devotion for the Day
Excerpt from Psalm 103
“As far as the east is from the west, so far God removes our transgressions from us.”
Martin B. Copenhaver
When I was a student at Yale Divinity School, one of the legendary professors was Paul Holmer, who taught philosophical theology. He was famously brilliant and something of a curmudgeon. He had a barrel-chest and a gravelly voice. If a film were done of his life, the part of Paul Holmer would have been played by the actor George C. Scott. And Mr. Holmer was the General Patton of the classroom.
No surprise then that, in my first year at divinity school, I handed in my first paper to Mr. Holmer with some trepidation. When I got it back I couldn’t miss his first comment at the top of the first page. It was in big letters and underlined: “I don’t even know where to begin.” His subsequent comments made it clear that this was not a compliment. But Mr. Holmer was a wonderful teacher, so I went on to take three more classes with him.
A sequel to that story: this past year I was asked to write an endorsement for the back cover of a volume of Mr. Holmer’s collected sermons and addresses. I felt very honored to be asked, but I was also very tempted to begin that endorsement by saying, “I don’t even know where to begin.”
I think of Mr. Holmer and his critique of my paper often when I come to the silent prayers of confession in worship: I don’t even know where to begin. (And I don’t mean it as a compliment, either.) Gratefully, I also believe there is no beginning or end to God’s forgiveness.
God, I cling to your goodness. Remove my transgressions from me as far as the east is from the west.
“Let God be true but every man a liar” is the language of true faith.
Author: A.W. Tozer
Thoughts on Today’s Text
God enters into forgiving relationships based on steadfast love with these individuals and others like them. Yet, God’s forgiving love is simultaneously tempered by divine judgment. While being “a forgiving God to them,” this holy deity is at the same time “an avenger of their wrongdoings” (verse 8). Neither of these attributes of God’s holiness nullifies the other. Instead, they stand inseparably together as the very heart of what makes the God of Israel profoundly different from all others, “for the Lord our God is Holy” (verse 9).
The psalmist’s presentation of the holiness of God is helpful not only for our understanding of just who God is, but also for our discernment of what it means to belong to a God who is holy. The priests of Leviticus repeatedly implore worshippers of God to be holy because the Lord their God is holy (e.g. 11:44, 19:2). Psalm 99 shows us that holiness on our part has little, if anything, to do with personal piety or religiosity. Instead, be different because the Lord your God is different.
Psalm 99:1-9 (NIV)
1 The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake.
2 Great is the LORD in Zion; he is exalted over all the nations.
3 Let them praise your great and awesome name– he is holy.
4 The King is mighty, he loves justice– you have established equity; in Jacob you have done what is just and right.
5 Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy.
6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel was among those who called on his name; they called on the LORD and he answered them.
7 He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud; they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.
8 O LORD our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds.
9 Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy.
Prayer for the Day
O Lord let the word of Christ dwell in us richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing each other in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in our hearts to You O Lord! Let whatever we do in word or deed, we will do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. In Your precious name, Jesus Christ, Amen
There are two main facets to the Scriptures this week. The most obvious one is that of Jesus’ own transfiguration, which reveals his glory as Messiah, but which also points to the cross – the ultimate glory of Christ. The truth of what the Messianic age means – the fulfilment of the law and the prophets, and the establishment of God’s reign among people – is reflected and proclaimed here. The second facet is the transformation of those who encounter God – Moses, Jesus, and then those who believe in Christ. The week then, is a celebration of Christ’s transfiguration, but also of ours. And like Christ, our true transformation comes by embracing the way of the cross.
A little boy was reciting the 23rd psalm when he got to the last part of verse 4 and said, “Thy rod and thy reel, they comfort me…” Bass Mitchell