In the third chapter, Paul is introducing the idea of the new covenant. Paul does this by comparing the new covenant with the covenant God made through Moses.
I used to think how glorious it would be to have been there when Moses was around. Everything in his life seemed so glorious. Everything from being put into a basket and escaping death. In fact, God would have it that you would be richly provided for in your youth as preparation to save God’s people. Then when Moses comes back, the ten plagues hit and miracles abound. They cross the Red Sea on dry ground and Egypt’s army is drowned. They go into the desert, and receive the Ten Commandments. Moses is constantly interceding for the people, and the people are healed and God relents. God shows His power by acting through Moses. Whereever the Ark of the Covenant goes, the presence of God is there. God is their protector. The might of God shows its power in ways never seen before, and never has been seen after.
Yes, God is the almighty one, the all-powerful. Everything back then was an obvious act of God. The power of God was swift for those who opposed His ways. The people of God were to act similarly when they saw others offending God. The Torah, the law of Moses, that came from God, was a law that demanded death to those who offended greatly. It became a ministry of death. To see the unadulterated power of God was so overwhelming, no human could withstand simply being in the presence of God. The glory of God was too great a mystery. The covenant through Moses in its power and glory did violence to those who did not live up to the standard that God had set forth.
It was indeed a glory as Paul recognizes. Yet when Paul compares the new Covenant and its glory to the one of Moses, there is no comparison. The former glory only had the power to condemn and do violence, whereas the new Covenant in its new glory makes all things whole. It brings healing and reconciliation between us and God as well as between each other as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. This glory does not do violence, but is found in humility, peace, love, joy, wisdom and grace. The new glory is holy in a way that was not perceived before, for this holiness wills the good for all in all gentleness.
This gentleness does not require prophets to hide their face, but the love of God is made known to all who have ears to hear and eyes to see. Behold your God who comes as this little baby. The glory that God reveals in this new covenant is not something to run from, but to run to. The power of God is shown in His mercy, kindness and love.
God has the power of the almighty. He has the strong arm which nobody can resist. But the character of God is that He would prefer kindness and have patience with us that we may really know what He is really like as He really is. He chooses mercy. In His own humble way, he chooses to live in us, making us into His holy temple. He gives His very Spirit to live. It brings freedom in the soul and the veil is removed so that we may understand the ways of God and grow in wisdom and grace ourselves.
Those who want to follow God are given great power. God sends His angels to guard and protect us. As followers of God, the Jewish people are blessed indeed, but for those who become children of God by baptism, the holiness of God is revealed. The inner life and God’s love for us is a greater glory. Looking upon Him does not crush us, but gives us hope.