The glory of Yahweh.
Those words bring up a lot of images to my mind. You find those words repeated time and again in the Old Testament.
(For those of you who don’t know, whenever you see LORD in all capital letters in your Bible, it stands for God’s divine name, “Yahweh.” So every time you see “glory of the LORD” in the Old Testament, it’s talking about the glory of Yahweh.).
I think of Moses beholding Yahweh from behind the rock, but unable to see his full glory.
I think of the tabernacle, and then later the temple, being filled with the glory of Yahweh, so that the priests could not enter.
I think of Isaiah seeing the glory of Yahweh, with the seraphim singing, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is Yahweh Almighty.”
And of course, how could you not think of the glory of Yahweh appearing before the shepherds at the time of Jesus’ birth?
In the New Testament, the word, “Lord” is often used to translate the Old Testament word “Yahweh,” as is seen in the last example. But at the same time, it is also used to refer to Jesus, both in the gospels and the epistles.
Many times Paul uses the word “Lord” to refer specifically to Jesus, but in this particular passage, I think we see an exception, or perhaps a double meaning. For there is no doubt that Paul did believe Jesus was indeed Yahweh, that is, Yahweh the Son, in comparison to Yahweh the Father, and Yahweh the Spirit. (I know, we usually say “God” instead of “Yahweh,” but we’re saying the same thing.)
Anyway, like I said, Paul seems to be using “Lord” here primarily to refer to the triune Yahweh, in contrast to Jesus only. Why do I say so? A couple of reasons. One is that he refers to Moses encountering Yahweh in the book of Exodus, and second he refers to the “glory of the Lord.” You can, of course, definitely refer to the glory of Christ, because he shares the glory of the Father. But since Paul referred to Moses, it seems best to think of it as the “glory of Yahweh” that Moses saw in Exodus, instead of merely the glory of the Son.
Anyway, back to my point, one thing you note time and again in the Old Testament is that it was impossible for people to gaze upon the full glory of Yahweh and live. They were always “veiled” from it in one way or another.
But here, Paul says, “Where the Spirit of Yahweh is, there is now freedom.”
Because of Jesus and what he did for us on the cross, we can now behold Yahweh’s glory unveiled.
And now, that glory doesn’t destroy us. Rather, it transforms us into God’s image from one degree of glory to another.
I don’t know about you, but to me that’s amazing. So each day, let us take time contemplating the glory of Yahweh, the glory of our salvation, and the glory of God’s grace. And as we do, we will be transformed.