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Zorgblar
Feb 4th 2008, 09:46 AM
When jesus transformed on the mountain and elias and moses appeared beside him why did one of his followers offer to build a shelter for all of them? What exactly was going through his head?:confused

9Marksfan
Feb 4th 2008, 11:03 AM
When jesus transformed on the mountain and elias and moses appeared beside him why did one of his followers offer to build a shelter for all of them? What exactly was going through his head?:confused

This was the classic "mountaintop" experience to end ALL "mountaintop" experiences! Wouldn't YOU want it to last forever too? Peter wanted them to stay and just soak up the blessing! But there was a child that needed the touch of Jesus down the mountain (next passage) - Jesus always had to be about His father's business!

menJesus
Feb 4th 2008, 11:07 AM
Can you please put the Scripture up for this? Thanks.

Zorgblar
Feb 4th 2008, 11:13 AM
This was the classic "mountaintop" experience to end ALL "mountaintop" experiences! Wouldn't YOU want it to last forever too? Peter wanted them to stay and just soak up the blessing! But there was a child that needed the touch of Jesus down the mountain (next passage) - Jesus always had to be about His father's business!

Ok they wanted to stay longer but had to leave to help the needed.Got ya.

Teke
Feb 4th 2008, 02:04 PM
When jesus transformed on the mountain and elias and moses appeared beside him why did one of his followers offer to build a shelter for all of them? What exactly was going through his head?:confused

There are a couple things to consider. The booth or tent (Gr. skene) and Elias and Moses. These lead us to a consideration of the Shekinah and the significance of the cloud. All these are rooted in the OT.


1st reference

Skéné is a Greek word, whose oldest and primary meaning is "tent." Another ancient use of the word is to designate the wooden or stone stage, or stage building, and "scenery" back-drop where actors performed in the ancient Greek theater. (Our words scene/scenery remind us of this early meaning of skéné.) Later meanings include: booth, tabernacle, dwelling-place, temple, and canopy-like covers. These later meanings seem to be a result of the Septuagint translators’ choice of the Greek word, skéné, to render three different Hebrew words when the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek during the third-second centuries B.C. The first of those three Hebrew words is ‘ohel, the characteristic term for tent, and the only one that we would normally expect to be rendered as skéné in Greek. The second Hebrew word is sukkah, which means "booth." This is the word used in the Feast of Booths (or, sometimes called the Feast of Tabernacles), where "booths" refers to the grass and twig huts constructed annually to commemorate the forty years wandering in the wilderness by Moses and the Hebrew people, when the Tabernacle was a tent, and the people lived in tents. The third Hebrew word translated as skéné is mishkan. This is the most interesting translation, because the Hebrew word means "tabernacle" or "dwelling-place," connoting a permanent dwelling, whereas a tent connotes an impermanent structure. In Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the new Testament. Vol. 7 (Ed. by Gerhard Friedrich and Gerhard Eittel, Trans. G.W. Bromiley, Eerdman Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1964), the author proposes that the reason that the Septuagint translators chose skéné as the natural, inevitable word-equivalent of mishkan is that they both contain the same three consonants, s k n, in the same sequence. Consequently, the meaning and use of the word skéné in the New Testament is shaped and molded by its antecedents in the Septuagint.

Furthermore, it's proposed that the skéné, and various visual forms associated with it (tabernacle, temple, canopy, dome, iconostasis, shell and niche, triumphal arch and portal) is a universal symbol of the conflict and reconciliation of opposites, and is used to commemorate the Divine Presence, Truth and Wisdom, and Divine Order, which manifests itself by achieving the victory of good, life, order, and creation over evil, death, chaos, and destruction. Moreover, whenever someone has wished to commemorate a theophany (a manifestation of God), or the activity or presence of the Divine, some skéné form is to be found.


2nd reference

The Hebrew word, Shekhinah (sekina), which became a substitute for the Holy Name of Yahweh, is an important term for understanding the biblical conception of the nature of God. Shekhinah signifies all the awesome, mystical, Power and Holiness of God's Presence, especially as localized in the Holy of Holies, first in Moses’ Tabernacle in the wilderness, and later in the Temple in Jerusalem. The word is derived, interestingly, from the Hebrew root, sakan, meaning "to pitch a tent," which is the same root from which mishkan (the most common Hebrew word used to refer to the Tabernacle of Moses) is also derived. Furthermore, Shekhinah has the same three consonants, s k n, as does mishkan and skéné (the Greek word usually chosen to Translate mishkan).

The Shekhinah (manifested as a cloud) was expected to reappear in the messianic period, according to 2 Maccabees 2:8, which states that "the glory of the Lord and the cloud will appear, as they were shown in the case of Moses ..." The commentator also states that Moses was the prototype of the Messiah, according to Malachi 4:5, and that they both seem to be the two witnesses of the Messiah in Revelation 11:3-12.

Why was it Elias and Moses who appeared with Christ? A common interpretation in the Orthodox Church is that Moses represents the Law and Elias represents the prophets. An additional explanation is that Moses represents the dead, while Elias symbolizes the living, because he did not die, but was taken up into heaven in a chariot of fire. Icons of the Transfiguration sometimes show this by depicting Moses being brought by an angel to Mount Tabor from a grave, and Elias being brought in a chariot or cloud in the upper left and right corners. The theology implied here is that Christ is lord of both the living and the dead, present and future. Such an eschatological character is implied by the presence of Elias, because, as St. John the Forerunner (the Baptist) heralded Christ’s first coming "in the spirit and power of Elias" (Luke 1:17), so likewise, Elias is the herald for Christ’s second coming in glory."

St. Basil the Great comments that the Transfiguration is an anticipation of Christ’s glorious second coming, which is the thrust of the reference to the Transfiguration in 2 Peter 1:16-18, and thus one of the early interpretations. Vladimir Lossky is one of the few contemporary authors, who, in explaining why Elias and Moses are present, mentions an additional reason—that it is because they both had a "secret vision of God." Lossky states that he is following St. John Chrysostom in his explanation—one of the formulators of the patristic tradition. However, in a short essay, Lossky could only barely mention this parallel in a few words.





Reference
Ouspensky and Lossky, (in Lossky's essay on St. John the Forerunner, and in Ouspensky's essay on St. Elias).

The theophany to St. Elias on Mt. Choreb (Sinai) is understood by the Fathers as a foreshadowing of the Transfiguration, which in turn, refers to Christ's return at the end and fulfillment of time, when the Kingdom of God will be fulfilled, and the natural order of the fallen cosmos will be altered by God and restored to its original order. St. Elias is viewed as the prototype and prophet of the second coming, because for Elias the natural order was changed by his love for God: a rapacious bird of prey — the raven — brought food for Elias; fire from heaven consumed water-soaked wood; Elias did not die, but was carried to heaven in a fiery chariot; a dead son was brought back to life; waters parted when struck by his cloak; and most especially, Elias encountered God Himself in a theophany on Mt. Sinai. That the "very laws of nature are changed by the will of God, is in itself a prophetic prefiguration of the coming of that Kingdom in power".

St. Basil the Great's "Homily on Psalm 44, V." Quoted by Lossky in his essay on the Transfiguration, ibid., p. 212.

According to the Jerusalem Bible translation, Peter says: "It was not any cleverly invented myths that we were repeating when we brought you the knowledge of the power and the coming (parousia) of our Lord Jesus Christ; we had seen his majesty for ourselves. He was honored and glorified by God the Father, when the sublime Glory itself spoke to him and said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; he enjoys my favor.’ We heard this ourselves, spoken from heaven, when we were with him on the holy mountain."

The Transfiguration of Christ on Mount Tabor (or Mount Hermon as some traditions say), is a theophany, and in fact, it is the only time before His Resurrection that Christ was manifested in His full divine Glory. (Glory is very important as a major characteristic of the manifestation of the Shekhinah.) Both Moses and Elias were worthy and appropriate Old Testament saints to behold and share in Christ’s theophany on the mountain top, because in their own lifetimes they both had experienced a theophany of God’s holiness and glory on another mountain—Mount Sinai (Exodus 3:1-6; 33:18-34:9 and I Kings 19:8-14). Both Moses and Elias could encounter the manifestation of God while still in the body because they themselves had become so transfigured by holiness, that they could actually stand within the divine aura of God’s holiness itself, and not be consumed.

markedward
Feb 4th 2008, 02:41 PM
I (and some others that I know) have noticed that whenever the situation arises, Peter is usually the one to shout something out, almost as if he had to say something just to say something. This time around, Peter was in so much awe, he could barely think of something to say:


Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

2Witnesses
Feb 4th 2008, 04:20 PM
Perhaps, once again, this was Peter holding back the work of Christ. I mean, to build a 'booth' would be to conceal the great light seen.

I have been to that area of northern Israel. And for that to happen it would have been seen for miles!

What I have thought is that this was the fulfillment, in the literal, of Isaiah 9, 'The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light'.

2Witnesses

threebigrocks
Feb 4th 2008, 04:38 PM
Do you see how Elijah (a prophet) and Moses (giver of the law) stood with Christ? What foretold of Christ? What cannot save us aside from the grace of God through Christ? It is the pattern of God standing before them - first the law, then the prophets then Christ.

Matthew 5


16"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
17"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

markedward
Feb 4th 2008, 04:40 PM
Perhaps, once again, this was Peter holding back the work of Christ. I mean, to build a 'booth' would be to conceal the great light seen.This doesn't seem like a likely case... after all, during half of His ministry, Jesus Himself told His disciples and those who discovered who He was to keep it a secret. If anything, Jesus was "concealing" His light, at least for a time.

Mark 3:12, 5:43, 7:36, 8:26, 9:9.

Peter's suggestion for "tents" to be built was more along the lines of something to honor Jesus and Moses and Elijah, not to hide them.

2Witnesses
Feb 4th 2008, 04:44 PM
This doesn't seem like a likely case... after all, during half of His ministry, Jesus Himself told His disciples and those who discovered who He was to keep it a secret. If anything, Jesus was "concealing" His light, at least for a time.

Mark 3:12, 5:43, 7:36, 8:26, 9:9.

Peter's suggestion for "tents" to be built was more along the lines of something to honor Jesus and Moses and Elijah, not to hide them.

Mark....,

Actually I had reference to what took place within the disciple community, and not about the masses.

Peter told Christ that He would not die. Jesus rebuked him.

2Witnesses

markedward
Feb 4th 2008, 05:03 PM
It's a given that Peter did not understand the whole Die and Rise Again In 3 Days thing when he started to rant off at Jesus (Mark 8:32), but that doesn't mean he was trying to "conceal" Christ under a tent. Peter was all for Jesus being the Messiah and changing the world, but like many others, Peter didn't understand the part about Jesus being sacrificed. Other than Jesus' death, Peter was pretty much a zealot for Jesus.

2Witnesses
Feb 4th 2008, 05:07 PM
markedward,

I am sure you are correct. Actually, I was just using that to get over my view on Isa. 9. What do you think of that OP?

2Witnesses

markedward
Feb 4th 2008, 05:16 PM
Actually, I was just using that to get over my view on Isa. 9. What do you think of that OP?I'm not sure I understand...

threebigrocks
Feb 4th 2008, 05:18 PM
I picture Peter as tradesman of the time. He was a fisherman. He knew his work, but was slow to many other things. Peter was sort of oafish for lack of a better term. A man with a heart for God, but just didn't catch on quickly.

In the days when the Isralites moved camp, they would put up a tent for the Ark of the Covenant which is where the high priests served the people. That became a sort of portable temple or tabernacle. So, for Peter to exclaim in that moment of glory what he did isn't so odd if you study the scriptures. It just wasn't terribly appropriate because the true High Priest, Christ, was there and Peter still didn't get it.

Zorgblar, I challenge you to find in the OT where it speaks of the tent and the Ark of the Covenant. ;) Post it when you do.

2Witnesses
Feb 4th 2008, 05:19 PM
ok,

That the Transfiguration was a literal fulfillment of Isa. 9:2. 2 The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death [a (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah%209:2-7#fen-NIV-17832a)]
a light has dawned.

2Witnesses

threebigrocks
Feb 4th 2008, 05:22 PM
2Witnesses, I have always associated that as the birth of Christ. Bright star, Christ birth the dawing of the light...

2Witnesses
Feb 4th 2008, 05:22 PM
Sorry,

And that was the region of the Galilee, where also Jesus was in the Transfiguration.

2Witnesses

divaD
Feb 4th 2008, 05:25 PM
Perhaps, once again, this was Peter holding back the work of Christ. I mean, to build a 'booth' would be to conceal the great light seen.

I have been to that area of northern Israel. And for that to happen it would have been seen for miles!





If that were the case, then why did Jesus tell them not to tell any man what they saw, until after the resurrection?

Also Matthew 17:9 describes this as a vision. Can others see one's visions?

markedward
Feb 4th 2008, 05:25 PM
When I read that, it makes me think of Jesus being the "light of the world." I don't see it as speaking of Him literally being a glowing-man, but that He was bringing light to a spiritually dark world.

Read Matthew 4:12-17. The author of Matthew understood the passage to refer to Jesus' ministry. It was fulfilled both literally (that Jesus passed through those areas), but metaphorically speaking, refer to Matthew 5:14-16, 6:22-23, and John 1:4-7.

2Witnesses
Feb 4th 2008, 05:29 PM
If that were the case, then why did Jesus tell them not to tell any man what they saw, until after the resurrection?

Also Matthew 17:9 describes this as a vision. Can others see one's visions?

DivaD,

He told them not to tell of He conversing with Moses and Elijah. The people in the valley of the Galilee could only see a 'great light'.

Mark...

I spoke of a 'literal' fulfillment of Isa. 9. But yes, I agree it has a 'spiritual' application.

2Witnesses

markedward
Feb 4th 2008, 05:38 PM
I spoke of a 'literal' fulfillment of Isa. 9. But yes, I agree it has a 'spiritual' application.Not every prophecy was intended to be taken 100% literally, word-for-word exact. Jesus wasn't a light-bulb, but He was the "light of the world." A proper interpretation will reveal that it happened "literally," in that, He fulfilled the prophecy (Matthew 4:12-17), but He wasn't a literal glowing-man walking around Zebulun and Naphtali and Jordan and Galilee.

RoadWarrior
Feb 4th 2008, 05:42 PM
When I read that, it makes me think of Jesus being the "light of the world." I don't see it as speaking of Him literally being a glowing-man, but that He was bringing light to a spiritually dark world.

Read Matthew 4:12-17. The author of Matthew understood the passage to refer to Jesus' ministry. It was fulfilled both literally (that Jesus passed through those areas), but metaphorically speaking, refer to Matthew 5:14-16, 6:22-23, and John 1:4-7.

Sometimes I think we struggle too hard to try and find "literal" interpretations for scripture, when what we need to see is the spiritual application. I agree with markedward here - Jesus brought spiritual light into a spiritually dark world.

If we accept this as the meaning of the prophecy, then we can see the fulfillment, not just in this incident or that, but in every word and deed that Jesus did when He walked in the flesh of a man.

When we see that, then we can see how it is to be walked out in our own lives.

I like something Fallenbrooke posted in his attached file in post #34 in the "victory" thread: http://bibleforums.org/showthread.php?t=114045&page=3; specifically, I was impressed with a quote from the Clarke commentary: (red highlighting mine for emphasis)


Put ye on the Lord Jesus - This is in reference to what is said, Rom_13:13 : Let us put on decent garments - let us make a different profession, unite with other company, and maintain that profession by a suitable conduct. Putting on, or being clothed with Jesus Christ, signifies receiving and believing the Gospel; and consequently taking its maxims for the government of life, having the mind that was in Christ. The ancient Jews frequently use the phrase putting on the shechinah, or Divine majesty, to signify the soul’s being clothed with immortality, and rendered fit for glory.

2Witnesses
Feb 4th 2008, 05:51 PM
Not every prophecy was intended to be taken 100% literally, word-for-word exact. Jesus wasn't a light-bulb, but He was the "light of the world." A proper interpretation will reveal that it happened "literally," in that, He fulfilled the prophecy (Matthew 4:12-17), but He wasn't a literal glowing-man walking around Zebulun and Naphtali and Jordan and Galilee.

Markedward,

You do not concede 'credit where credit is due' very often, do you? I, on the otherhand, have been gracious to you.

I am simply saying there is a literal bases for most of what is spiritual. Practically the entire OT is a literal bases for what is spiritual in the NT.

Find fault here!

2Witnesses

markedward
Feb 4th 2008, 08:17 PM
You do not concede 'credit where credit is due' very often, do you? I, on the otherhand, have been gracious to you.Um? I thought were just having a discussion, giving input... I didn't think there was anything to be "conceded" to anyone... Are we trying to win something that there is to be a concession from one person to the other?


Find fault here!Do you think I just join discussions for the sole purpose of arguing or something? I was under the impression that we were simply talking. If I've offended you, I'm sorry, but don't think of me as trying to "find faults" or "win your concession."

shamrock
Feb 4th 2008, 10:28 PM
Can you please put the Scripture up for this? Thanks.

Matthew 17 The Transfiguration
1 Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves.
2 And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.
3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.
4 Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah."
5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!"
6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified.
7 And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, "Get up, and do not be afraid."
8 And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone.
9 As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, "Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead."

You can also find this in Mark 9:2-9 and Luke 9:28-36

Blessings, Pat

2Witnesses
Feb 5th 2008, 02:29 AM
Um? I thought were just having a discussion, giving input... I didn't think there was anything to be "conceded" to anyone... Are we trying to win something that there is to be a concession from one person to the other?

Do you think I just join discussions for the sole purpose of arguing or something? I was under the impression that we were simply talking. If I've offended you, I'm sorry, but don't think of me as trying to "find faults" or "win your concession."

Markedward,

You are correct, in part. But it is also good for one to say to another sometime, 'I think you have something there! I am blessed by it'.

But I like a good discussion anytime also. I tend though, to get proud of my knowledge at times. And I then fail to give others due credit. I am less likely then also to concede when I am wrong.

But God bless you. And I look forward to kicking your young buutta some time. And I hear him say, 'Bring it on old man!'

Just kiddin!

2Witnesses

Zorgblar
Feb 5th 2008, 03:31 AM
Zorgblar, I challenge you to find in the OT where it speaks of the tent and the Ark of the Covenant. ;) Post it when you do.

I think i found it.Is it in the book of numbers chapter 10 verse 33 and the book of deuteronomy chapter 10 verse 8?

threebigrocks
Feb 5th 2008, 03:58 AM
I think i found it.Is it in the book of numbers chapter 10 verse 33 and the book of deuteronomy chapter 10 verse 8?

Close, that talks about how they moved around and took the Ark with them.

Try for Exodus. ;)

Can you see how Peter would have first had his mind go to setting up a tent for Christ, Moses and Elijah being Jew?

Mograce2U
Feb 5th 2008, 04:19 AM
When Peter later mentions this event in 2 Pet 1:16, he does so with an understanding of prophecy which he did not have at the time. Both Moses & Elijah were prophets who spoke about the death of Jesus - which Luke reveals in 9:28. Luke also ties it into the prophecy of Malachi as it concerns the coming of Elijah. But Moses is the one who predicted that another Prophet like him, God would raise up and the people would be required to hear Him. (Deut 18:15) And this is what the voice they heard confirmed.

Matthew 16:16 is Peter's confession of Jesus as the Son of God, then a few verses later, speaking by Satan, Peter denies the cross. Here on the mount he makes the foolish assertion that Jesus, Moses and Elijah are to have an equal share in the kingdom of God - which reveals his errant ideas about the coming kingdom. The preeminence of Christ was not yet his focus. He was looking at Jesus as though He were JUST another prophet like the other two. And the Father quickly admonished him for it.

Israel was looking for the advent of 2 prophets to come: one like Moses and one like Elijah. This is where Peter's understanding at the time was too.

In 2nd Peter we can see that he did finally get it! And that he speaks about prophecy not being of private interpretation - he is no doubt speaking of what he had since learned himself after his faux pas on the mount.

These 2 men who represented the Law and the Prophets to Israel, are the same 2 witnesses who laid out the gospel for Israel that Rev 11 speaks of - in particular about the coming judgment upon the city which had become like Sodom. Moses had warned that Israel would suffer the same plagues that Egypt had if they forsook the Lord, and Elijah is the one who prayed that it not rain when he saw that Israel was ripe for judgment according to God's prophetic word.

Zorgblar
Feb 5th 2008, 01:09 PM
Close, that talks about how they moved around and took the Ark with them.

Try for Exodus. ;)

Can you see how Peter would have first had his mind go to setting up a tent for Christ, Moses and Elijah being Jew?

I think i found it this time.Is it in exodus chapter 25 verses 16 and 22?And exodus chapter 26 verse 33?And last exodus chapter 30 verse 26?

threebigrocks
Feb 5th 2008, 01:59 PM
I think i found it this time.Is it in exodus chapter 25 verses 16 and 22?And exodus chapter 26 verse 33?And last exodus chapter 30 verse 26?

What does the Spirit tell you Z? :)

Peter did a lot of maturing, an incredible amount really, from the time of Jesus' arrest until his ascention when Peter began teaching. Many, many pieces fell into place in his hindsight in despite of his being slow to catch on to the spiritual. Point is - he got it, and lived for Christ from there on out.

Zorgblar
Feb 5th 2008, 02:31 PM
What does the Spirit tell you Z? :)

What about the verses?Im not really sure to tell you the truth.:dunno:

RevLogos
Feb 5th 2008, 04:54 PM
What was the purpose of the transfiguration? And what do you think were Jesus, Moses & Elijah talking about? Was this some kind of huddle where they talk about the next play of the game?

Zorgblar
Feb 5th 2008, 04:55 PM
What was the purpose of the transfiguration? And what do you think were Jesus, Moses & Elijah talking about? Was this some kind of huddle where they talk about the next play of the game?

I was wondering about this as well.

Teke
Feb 5th 2008, 04:57 PM
What was the purpose of the transfiguration?

As I said in a previous post, God transforms creation. The transfiguration is a visible truth of an ontological reality. God has transformed humanity by partaking of/in it.

9Marksfan
Feb 5th 2008, 05:51 PM
I was wondering about this as well.

"And behold, two men talked with Him, who were Moses and Elijah, 31 who appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem." Lk 9:30-31 NKJV

Not His life, teaching or miracles - but His death - the principal reason why He came! The fulfilment of the law and the prophets, represented by Moses and Elijah!

9Marksfan
Feb 5th 2008, 05:54 PM
What was the purpose of the transfiguration?

I believe it was not only to testify to the divinity of Jesus - but also to show that the law and the prophets (represented by Moses and Elijah) were fading away (this was why they saw "Jesus only") - because He is the fulfilment of ALL that was spoken of in the law and the prophets! Hebrews goes into this in some detail - as does Paul in 2 Cor 3 (second half).

2Witnesses
Feb 5th 2008, 05:58 PM
I believe it was not only to testify to the divinity of Jesus - but also to show that the law and the prophets (represented by Moses and Elijah) were fading away (this was why they saw "Jesus only") - because He is the fulfilment of ALL that was spoken of in the law and the prophets! Hebrews goes into this in some detail - as does Paul in 2 Cor 3 (second half).


Marks... Excellent observations. It goes along with my thread: It Is Finished! Moshe, My Servant, Is Dead!

2Witnesses

Lars777
Feb 5th 2008, 06:15 PM
After six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves; and he was transfigured before them, and his garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses; and they were talking to Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is well that we are here; let us make three booths, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah." For he did not know what to say, for they were exceedingly afraid. And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is my beloved Son; listen to him." And suddenly looking around they no longer saw any one with them but Jesus only. (Mark 9:2-8)



A remarkable event! There are four dramatic occurrences in this account that immediately rivet our attention: First, there is the glorious change in the person of the Lord himself.

Suddenly, as they were with Jesus there on that mountain, his countenance altered, Matthew tells us. His face began to shine, his garments became white, and his whole being radiated glory. It is interesting to read how some of the critical commentators treat this incident.

One says that Jesus was praying on the mountain top when suddenly the sun broke through the clouds and shone upon him, and in that brilliant sunlight he appeared to the disciples to be supernaturally changed.

Well, that is all very well in accounting for his change, but it does not explain Moses and Elijah, nor the other events that happened. It is clear from this account (and from Matthew's and Luke's, also) -- Mark is careful to point out -- that this is a supernatural change.

No fuller on earth could produce this. This even exceeds the claims of the soap and detergent ads of our day. There is no whiteness like this whiteness, and the writers are very careful to make that plain.

Well, what happened to Jesus? We can only understand this when we see that what he did was to slip back into eternity, in a sense, back into his pre-human glory, which he refers to later in his great prayer recorded in John 17.

He prayed, "Father, glorify thou me in thy own presence with the glory which I had with thee before the world was made," (John 17:5 RSV). This is the glory which now is suddenly revealed to these three disciples.

It is evident therefore that our Lord did not have to die. That is one of the meanings of the transfiguration. It makes clear that he had no reason to pass through death.

He could step back across the boundary of time into eternity without passing through death. We must die; he did not need to. He could step back into glory at any time, and here he did so.

I am sure this is what John is referring to in his Gospel when, though he does not give us an account of the transfiguration, he does say, "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, ... we have beheld his glory," (John 1:14 RSV). Though he does not tell us where, it was undoubtedly this moment on the mountain that he remembered.

The second thing that grips us is the account of the heavenly visitors, Moses and Elijah, who appeared and were talking with Jesus. Is it not interesting that the disciples seem to have no difficulty at all in recognizing instantly who these men were?

Jesus did not say, "Now, Peter, James, and John, I'd like to have you meet Moses and Elijah." No, they knew instantly who they were. There will be no need for introductions in glory; we will know immediately who people are. So this account gives us something of a preview of what heaven will be like.

Now, why Moses and Elijah? Many have puzzled over that. Why not one of the other prophets -- Isaiah, or Jeremiah, or David -- or some of the other great leaders of the Old Testament -- Abraham, perhaps, or Noah?

But it was particularly Moses and Elijah who appeared with Jesus on the mountain. I think the commentators are right when, in general, they say this is because these two were preeminently the representatives of the Law and the Prophets, those two great divisions of the Old Testament which pointed forward to the coming of Messiah -- Moses, the great law-giver; Elijah, the first, and in some ways the greatest, of the prophets.

It is also interesting to note that these two men represent the two ways by which men have entered heaven. Moses entered through the normal, natural process of death.

No man was present when Moses died, but God buried him, the Old Testament says. And yet here Moses is -- his body lying in some unmarked grave on a mountain top beyond the Jordan River -- but he himself, in a resurrected body, present on the mountain with Jesus.

Elijah, on the other hand, was one of two men caught up to heaven without death. We have the dramatic story in the Old Testament of Elijah's ascension into glory, caught up in a fiery chariot, without passing through the normal process of death.

We have a prediction of this same phenomenon in the New Testament. Believers today normally enter into glory through death, as Moses did. But Paul tells us that the generation of Christians who are living on the day of the Lord's return shall not taste of death.

In First Corinthians 15:51, he says, "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet." And in First Thessalonians 4:16-17: "For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.

And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord." So there are two ways by which believers can enter into glory, and these are represented here by Moses and Elijah.

I am always intrigued by the fact that Moses is here, because it means that he finally made it into the Promised Land! In the wilderness, because he got angry and disobeyed the Lord, God told him that he would not be permitted to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land. He could see the land, but he could not enter. But that prohibition was only in time.

Now, in eternity, he was permitted to enter the land. And here he is on the mountain top. I can just see him looking all around, looking over that land, saying, "So there it is! I've been wanting to come here for ages, and I've finally made it!"

Luke tells us that they spoke of the exodus of Jesus, of his departure from Jerusalem. They discussed together how he would leave the earth by means of a cross and a resurrection.

I am sure these three disciples were so perturbed by the splendor and the glory and the strangeness of this scene that they did not recall all that they heard. That is too bad, for what a conversation this must have been!

How I wish we could have been present and heard them discussing these things. Moses perhaps discussed how Jesus was the fulfillment of all those sacrifices which the Law demanded -- all the lambs and calves and bulls and goats which were killed as a picture of the suffering One who would come.


Elijah, as one of the prophets, perhaps spoke of the longings of men, the hungering after a leader, a conqueror, a Savior; and of the predictions of the prophets that One was coming who would bear our transgressions, enter into our heartaches, and free us from ourselves. Such must have been their discussion.

The third element of great interest in this account is the proposal which Peter makes. After hearing these men discussing these strange events together, Peter, in his usual manner, interrupts: "Master, it is good for us to be here.

This is tremendous! Let's make three booths and live here. Let's settle down here and make this our world headquarters. We'll make one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."

He evidently has in mind that they would transform that mountain into the headquarters for the world-wide reformation movement that was going to start. They would operate right from that mountain, as the center of all activity.

Well, that shows how foolish he was, and how little he understood what Jesus had been trying to tell him. In fact, Mark, who undoubtedly got this account from Peter's own lips, indicates that the motive which led Peter to speak was that of fear.

He said, "They were exceedingly afraid." Someone has said that there are only two kinds of speakers: those who have something to say; and those who have to say something!

Peter was someone who just had to say something. He blurted out whatever came to his mind, without stopping to think whether it made sense or not. So he makes this proposal that they make this their headquarters for a great campaign to take over the world.

But he scarcely had gotten the words out when he was interrupted, and the fourth dramatic event occurred. Suddenly they were overshadowed with a cloud.

Matthew tells us it was a bright cloud, a very bright, shining cloud. It is my conviction that it was the identical cloud mentioned in the Old Testament, which hovered over the tabernacle during the day -- the glory of God, called the Shekinah.

They heard a voice speaking out of the cloud, saying, "This is my beloved Son; listen to him." There is no doubt that this is a correction of Peter's brash statement.

The Father himself is saying, "Peter, do not put Jesus on a par with Moses and Elijah. You listen to him. He is the one of whom Moses and Elijah spoke. He is the one who fulfilled all the predictions of the prophets and the sacrifices of the Law. Listen to him; this is my beloved Son."

There are three occasions in the New Testament when the voice of God spoke directly from heaven concerning the work of Jesus. One was at his baptism, when he began his ministry.

There the words were addressed to Jesus himself: "Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." It is evident that the voice came to launch the ministry of Jesus.

Here we have the words addressed to the disciples, to correct a mistake they were making. The third account occurs in John's gospel, Chapter 12, just before the cross in Jerusalem.

Jesus spoke of having completed the work which the Father had given him to do, and said in prayer to the Father, "Glorify thy name." And a voice spoke from glory and said, "I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again," referring to the cross immediately to follow.

There the voice came to complete the testimony of the life and ministry of Jesus. So three times we have the voice of the Father from heaven: to launch his ministry; to correct a mistaken idea about him; and to complete the testimony that Jesus gave by his life and ministry.

Mark ends this account by telling us that, as the voice spoke, suddenly the scene faded. They were returned to the normal situation. As he puts it so beautifully, "...they no longer saw any one with them but Jesus only." Jesus himself remained after the glory had faded.

2Witnesses
Feb 5th 2008, 06:21 PM
7Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, 8will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!

2Witnesses