I Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. [ESV]
I learned the meaning of the Greek word “eleos,” translated “mercy” in reading my commentary resources for this post. Eleos also means pity and compassion so the Scripture could be read “but now you are God’s people; once you had not received pity and compassion but now you have received pity and compassion.”
“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles:” remember why you’ve been chosen! You’ve been chosen to be a visible and undeniable display of God’s eleos, virtue and perfection. The powerful, all-knowing, ever-present God of the universe looked at your separation from Himself and rather than exercise His power to punish you, chose to trust the power of His pity and compassion to change you. You are chosen to be witnesses of that change: “Conduct yourselves properly (honorably, righteously) among the Gentiles, so that, although they may slander you as evildoers, [yet] they may BY witnessing your good deeds [come to] glorify God in the day of inspection [when God shall look upon you wanderers as a pastor or shepherd looks over his flock].” AMPC v12.
2 Corinthians 3:12 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 prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing 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 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. [NIV]
A veil is a piece of material worn to protect or conceal the face and certainly must affect the ability to see clearly. “Veil” is a prettier word, but “mask” better describes the man-made barrier between us and God that can dull the mind and cover the heart.
Moses covered his face with a veil to hide “the end of what was passing away” but “we are not like Moses” because “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…”
“…Since we have such a hope,” we can be “very bold.” Are we bold enough to be unmasked? Are we bold enough to trust God at work in us and let others be witnesses of “the end of what [is] passing away” as we are changed “into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” May it be so.
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of notable political figures being carefully guided through a pressing crowd surrounded by a cadre of secret service agents for their protection. That image came to mind when I read “since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses…” Have you ever considered who your personal cloud of witnesses are; the Biblical secret service agents that have impacted your life…and why? Maybe it’s time for you to make your own list. Here’s mine..
Jesus: because he showed me his love, and that I was worth it.
Solomon: because he connected the passion of human love to the love of God for his people.
David: because he was brave enough to repent even though there were desperate consequences to his sin.
Peter: because there’d never been any doubt in his mind that he would faithfully serve Jesus…until that moment when he heard his own words of denial. Then repentance changed his heart’s focus from service to a deep love.
Paul: because he believed in a power that had nothing to do with his own abilities and ideas. He was faithful, willing and yes…an opinionated messenger that Jesus was the Savior of the most unlikely people…even him.
These Biblical heroes are my secret service detail. They’re the “great cloud of witnesses” that are my examples of a better way to get through the hazards of being human so I “will not grow weary and lose heart” in the name of Jesus.