on Exodus 34 :33
And till Moses had done speaking - The meaning of the verse appears to be this: As often as Moses spoke in public to the people, he put the veil on his face, because they could not bear to look on the brightness of his countenance; but when he entered into the tabernacle to converse with the Lord, he removed this veil, Exodus 34:34. St. Paul, 2 Corinthians 3:7, etc., makes a very important use of the transactions recorded in this place. He represents the brightness of the face of Moses as emblematical of the glory or excellence of that dispensation; but he shows that however glorious or excellent that was, it had no glory when compared with the superior excellence of the Gospel. As Moses was glorious in the eyes of the Israelites, but that glory was absorbed and lost in the splendor of God when he entered into the tabernacle, or went to meet the Lord upon the mount; so the brightness and excellence of the Mosaic dispensation are eclipsed and absorbed in the transcendent brightness or excellence of the Gospel of Christ. One was the shadow, the other is the substance. One showed Sin in its exceeding sinfulness, together with the justice and immaculate purity of God; but, in and of itself, made no provision for pardon or sanctification. The other exhibits Jesus, the Lamb of God, typified by all the sacrifices under the law, putting away sin by the sacrifice of himself, reconciling God to man and man to God, diffusing his Spirit through the souls of believers, and cleansing the very thoughts of their hearts by his inspiration, and causing them to perfect holiness in the fear of God. The one seems to shut heaven against mankind, because by the law was the knowledge, not the cure, of Sin; the other opens the kingdom of heaven to all believers. The former was a ministration of death, the latter a dispensation of life. The former ministered terror, so that even the high priest was afraid to approach, the people withdrew and stood afar off, and even Moses, the mediator of it, exceedingly feared and trembled; by the latter we have boldness to enter into the holiest through the blood of Jesus, who is the end of the law for righteousness - justification, to every one that believeth. The former gives a partial view of the Divine nature; the latter shows God as he is,
"Full orbed, in his whole round of rays complete."
The apostle farther considers the veil on the face of Moses, as being emblematical of the metaphorical nature of the different rites and ceremonies of the Mosaic dispensation, each covering some spiritual meaning or a spiritual subject; and that the Jews did not lift the veil to penetrate the spiritual sense, and did not look to the end of the commandment, which was to be abolished, but rested in the letter or literal meaning, which conferred neither light nor life.
He considers the veil also as being emblematical of that state of intellectual darkness into which the Jewish people, by their rejection of the Gospel, were plunged, and from which they have never yet been recovered. When a Jew, even at the present day, reads the law in the synagogue, he puts over his head an oblong woolen veil, with four tassels at the four corners, which is called the taled or thaled. This is a very remarkable circumstance, as it appears to be an emblem of the intellectual veil referred to by the apostle, which is still upon their hearts when Moses is read, and which prevents them from looking to the end of that which God designed should be abrogated, and which has been abolished by the introduction of the Gospel. The veil is upon their hearts, and prevents the light of the glory of God from shining into them; but we all, says the apostle, speaking of believers in Christ, with open face, without any veil, beholding as in a glass the glory of God, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord; 2 Corinthians 3:18. Reader, dost thou know this excellence of the religion of Christ? Once thou wert darkness; art thou now light in the Lord? Art thou still under the letter that killeth, or under the Spirit that giveth life? Art thou a slave to sin or a servant of Christ? Is the veil on thy heart, or hast thou found redemption in his blood, the remission of sins? Knowest thou not these things? Then may God pity, enlighten, and save thee!
on Exodus 34 :33
Paul refers to this passage as showing forth the glory of the law, though it was but a "ministration of condemnation," and was to be done away, in order to enhance the glory of the gospel, "the ministration of the spirit," which is concealed by no veil from the eyes of believers, and is to last forever 2 Corinthians 3:7-15.
When rather than until should be supplied. Moses did not wear the veil when he was speaking to the people, but when he was silent. See Exodus 34:35.
on Exodus 34 :33
34:33 And Moses put a veil upon his face - This veil signified the darkness of that dispensation; the ceremonial institutions had in them much of Christ and the gospel, but a veil was drawn over it, so that the children of Israel could not distinctly and steadfastly see those good things to come which the law had a shadow of. It was beauty veiled, gold in the mine, a pearl in the shell; but thanks be to God, by the gospel, the veil is taken away from off the old testament; yet still it remains upon the hearts of those who shut their eyes against the light.