For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.
The sages teach us that when Moses was on the mountain God asked him to make an earthly replica of what he saw (Exodus 25:40). When Moses argued that it was impossible to replicate on earth the greatness of Heaven, God told him about a mirror, a mirror that shows what is, even a large space, but within a small area. As a 'mirror' to what he saw on the mountain, Moses was instructed to build the tabernacle. This mirror returns in the writings of the sages as they explain the difference between Moses' prophetic gift and that of other prophets. Using Ezekiel 43:3, the sages say that any prophet's vision comes through nine mirrors, nine mirrors because according to the Hebrew text, the verse has nine inflections of the verb 'to see' which also include the word 'vision'.
Mirrors in those days were made of brass and even when polished the image reflected was not clear as in that of today's mirrors. This very much conveys to us the idea that in this age, prophecy is an unclear business; it is very subjective and should be considered more an 'art' than a perfect 'science'.
Clear infallible prophecy requires a supernatural sign (1 Kings 13:3) to obtain credence. People criticize Thomas for 'doubting', but what was at stake was very important and his request only denotes of his seriousness about the matter. Thomas' request for confirmation was not out of line. We should even in our own congregation prove and test those who come to us with 'prophecy'; we are required to do so (1 John 4:1) as well as to examine prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:29). Thomas actually went on to be a very faithful witness who was martyred in India. The name 'Thomas' comes from the word 'The'um' meaning 'twin' which tells us that Thomas probably had a twin. With twins one can be deceived into seeing someone who is not who he claims to be. This should help us understand Thomas' concerns.
Paul knew of Ezekiel's 'mirror'; he speaks to us about it. When teaching about the imperfectness of our present gift of prophecy he says, For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away … For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face … (1 Corinthians 13:9-12). In essence, he is telling us that in the World to Come we will perfect our prophetic gift to the level of 'face to face' communication with God, which Moses already had (Numbers 12:8).
Paul's statement about prophecy comes to us at the end of a teaching about the imperfectness of present-day spiritual gifting including that of prophecy against the superiority and perfection, the 'better way' he called it, of having love one for another as taught by the Master (I Corinthians 12: 31; 13; Matthew 5:44-48). May we apply this advice to our lives and rather seek the perfectness of being known as the Master's disciples for our love towards one another rather than by our trying to be prophets.