How many things have you said you would do or that you even declared, “Now that is something I will never forget” only to forget all about it? When God gave the Nation of Israel the Ten Commandments he first wrote them on stone tablets for them to remember. Later, when they were on the brink of entering the Promised Land and the death of Moses their great leader, God had Moses to remind them of the Law that he had given them. He even told them that it was vital that they learn to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul and strength. He challenged them to hold these things in their heart and to teach them diligently to their children. They were to talk about them when they got up in the morning, when they walked by the way, when they ate together or when they were sitting together. But he went further than that. He challenged them to write the law that he had given on the wall, on the doorpost of the house, on the gate and to have them in their possession all the time. Later as Moses neared the end of the Book of Deuteronomy God would add one more thing about how they were to remember the law. He said when they reached the other side in the Promised Land they were to write the Law down on pillars of stone so that they would see them every time they passed that way. They were to read the law to each other when they gathered on the three great holidays they shared as a people. Obviously God was afraid they would forget the very Law that He gave them to live by as his special people.
Amazingly, when Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3 on the difference between the Old Law that God had given the people and the New Covenant that we are under today, he said that law was written on stone, but the New Covenant was written on the fleshly tablets of the heart. They wouldn’t need some special temple to go to in Jerusalem anymore or even an Ark of the Covenant to contain the Tablets of Stone. Now the covenant would be on the hearts of every child of God. it was to be with us all the time and affect how we live in every circumstance. He said that when people read that Old Law there was a veil that covered their hearts so they couldn’t see to the goal or end of the Law. “But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
Is it still important to have God’s word and teaching written down where we can see it? Certainly! Is it still valuable to write God’s will on the walls of our house or even our church buildings to remind us of things that God tells us? Absolutely! But it is even more important that we write the message of the New Covenant from the Lord on our hearts. These fleshly tablets of our heart when set upon the will of God are constantly before us, reminding us all the time what God wants us to be and do in life. When the Spirit of the Lord is in us we are given freedom from sin, from the Old Law, from all the things the separate us from God and from others who love God.
But the most significant point in this passage is this, When we get the veil off our eyes and heart and gaze longingly at the Lord’s glory, we are constantly being transformed or transfigured into the very image of Christ from one stage of glory to the next. We become more like Jesus all the time. Much of the work of the Spirit in our lives is this transformation that causes us to take on the heart and look of Jesus our Lord. One of the things this is teaching us is that when we read and study the word of God as intended the result is we ought to take on the heart and image of Jesus more and more all the time.
Let’s face it, we’ve all met lots of people who read their Bibles every day and know large chucks of Scripture that they will throw at you at any opportunity. But it has somehow failed totally in making them more like Jesus. Often it has turned them into judgmental, difficult, arrogant, sarcastic and just plain mean people that turn far more people away from God than they ever bring to him. I’m afraid the only part of the life of Jesus that many have gotten down well is him with a whip driving the money changers from the temple. Now that is certainly part of the heart of Jesus. He is totally frustrated with those who turn his worship into a money making scheme. But the heart of Jesus is most often pictured with the word “Compassion:” He looked at the poor, hurting, lonely and struggling people of the world and had compassion on them. He determined to walk in their shoes so he could fully understand what they were going through and then loved the hurting so much he took their sins on his own body and went to the cross to die on their behalf so they could have forgiveness and new life in him.
It should be one of those questions that haunt us regularly. Am I gazing at the glory of the Lord with such passion that I’m beginning to look and act more like him all the time in everything that I do? If it isn’t having that result, something is missing in my study, my worship and my gaze at Jesus.