These are words of the apostle Paul: “But if the service of death, written engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the children of Israel could not look steadfastly on the face of Moses for the glory of his face; which was passing away” (2 Cor. 3:7). What is he attempting to explain? It is the fact that the concert of Jehovah made in Mount Sinai with Israel, based on the two tablets of stone engraved by Jehovah that carried the Ten Commandments, was the ministry of death and not of life. Paul also said that the ministry of the Law came in glory, because when Moses descended the mountain to speak with the people his face was shining. As the people could not look at his face, he covered it with a veil (Ex. 34:28-35). The third thing that Paul reveals is that this glory was transient; rather, it was being abolished (2 Cor. 3:9-11). Paul also declared that the ministry of death, ruled by the law of Jehovah, was also the ministry of condemnation and equally glorious (2 Cor. 3:9). Death and condemnation cannot come crowned with glory, but with shame, pain, and separation from what we love. How come Paul says it came in glory?
The ministry of death is from Jehovah, for he gave a law engraved in two tablets of stone, and the law accuses, condemns and kills. In the law of Jehovah the forgiveness of men or of god (Jehovah) is not foreseen. We read in the law of Jehovah: “But if any harm follows, then you must take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, and bruise for bruise” (Ex. 21:23-25).
The question goes on: Why has the Ministry of Death come in glory? The answer is simple. Jehovah declares that he is glorified when he kills people.
When Jehovah was about to destroy Pharaoh in the waters of the Red Sea, he made the following declarations: “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will follow after them; and I will get honor over Pharaoh, and over all his armies; and the Egyptians shall know that I am Jehovah” (Ex. 14:4). Later Jehovah gave orders to Moses, saying: “Lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go into the midst of the sea on dry ground. I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall go in after them: and I will get myself honor over Pharaoh, and over all his armies, over his chariots, and over his horsemen. The Egyptians shall know that I am Jehovah, when I have gotten myself honor over Pharaoh, over his chariots, and over his horsemen” (Ex. 14:16-18). The children of Israel went through the sea on dry land, and the Egyptians took up the pursuit to kill and destroy. Jehovah, then, brought the army of the Egyptians into confusion by breaking the wheels of their chariots of war. At dawn Moses stretched his hand over the sea after Israel had passed, and the waters returned to its normal state (Ex. 14:21-29). The text ends, saying: “Thus Jehovah saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore” (Ex. 14:30). And Jehovah was glorified in the death of all the Egyptian army. This clashes with the words of the apostle John, who says: “This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and him whom you sent, Jesus Christ” (John 17:3). We understand in this text that the glory of God, the true God, is to give eternal life. God, the Father, has nothing to do with death. Back to the issue of the glory of Jehovah, Moses sang a song: “Jehovah is a man of war. Jehovah is his name. He has cast Pharaoh’s chariots and his army into the sea. His chosen captains are sunk in the Red Sea. The deeps cover them. They went down into the depths like a stone. Your right hand, Jehovah, is glorious in power. Your right hand, Jehovah, dashes the enemy in pieces” (Ex. 15:3-6). It is amazing, but Jehovah feels glorified when he kills his enemies. We cannot forget that Jehovah forged the Egyptians as his enemies. In Psalm 105:23-25 we read that he changed the heart of the Egyptians to hate the people of Israel. Besides, he hardened Pharaoh and the people, so that they did not turn from his sins (Ex. 4:21; 7:3; 10:1,20,27; 11:10; 14:4,17). The bad ones were not the Egyptians; the bad one was Jehovah. Instead of getting glory in the salvation of his people, he got glory in the death of the Egyptians. “You blew with your wind. The sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters. Who is like you, Yahweh, among the gods? Who is like you, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? You stretched out your right hand. The earth swallowed them” (Ex. 15:10-12).
Now, if the glory of Jehovah was to kill, the ministry of death came in glory. Paul explains that this glory was transitory and brief (2 Cor. 3:7-11). Ephemeral glory. And as Moses was the mediator of this covenant of death, when he went down from Mount Sinai with the tablets of the Law, written on stone, his face also shone (Ex. 34:29). Paul explains that the glow of Moses’ face was the glory of the ministry of death (2 Cor. 3:7).
Strange glory! Thieves and murderers, today, speak of the glory of their crimes, saying: I have killed forty. Jehovah is also glorified through killing, for Isaiah says: “For by fire will Jehovah execute judgment, and by his sword, on all flesh; and the slain of Jehovah shall be man” (Is. 66:16). “The slain of Jehovah shall be at that day from one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung on the surface of the ground” (Jer. 25:33). The important aspect about these texts is that it is written: “THE SLAIN OF JEHOVAH”. If they are the dead who sleep in Christ, as we read in 1 Thess. 4:14 and 1 Cor. 15:12-18 — dead who have left the world, crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts — they so left human ambitions, that they are called the dead who die in the Lord Jesus (1 Thess. 4:16-18). But the dead of Jehovah are the ones who are condemned to hell, victims of the vengeance of Jehovah. This is the ministry of death, from which not even those whom Jehovah saved from Egypt have escaped (Jude 5). And those who have not entered were all cursed of Jehovah, as we read in Heb. 3:17-19. Moses also did not have permission to enter, and so died in the company of those who were cursed and rejected (Deut. 34:1-5).
The ministry of Christ and of the apostles is the ministry of righteousness because Christ justifies the sinner condemned of Jehovah (2 Cor. 3:6-9; 2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus said: “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me” (John 14:6). And about God, Father of Jesus, Paul said: “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who desires all people to be saved and come to full knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:3-4). As Jehovah condemned and killed, and the Father only saves, we conclude that Jehovah is the god of this dark world, and God the Father has nothing to do with this world of Jehovah (Ps. 24:1)
by Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira