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MOSES AND ELIAS
The transfiguration of Jesus in the presence
of three of his disciples is a point of interest
to many, not because they see its lesson and
significance, but because they do not see them. We read that there "appeared" to the disciples
Moses and Elias, talking with Jesus. (Matt. 17:1-9.)
Our Lord was transfigured (changed in
appearance). His face did shine as the sun
and his raiment was white as the light. A
bright cloud overshadowed and surrounded
them, and a voice out of the cloud said, "This
is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased;
hear ye him." "And when the disciples heard
it they fell on their faces and were sore afraid.
And Jesus came and touched them, and said,
Arise, be not afraid. And when they had
lifted up their eyes they saw Jesus only."
We might wonder and speculate about how
Moses and Elijah came to be on the mountain,
how the disciples, who never saw either of
them, could know them, etc., etc.; but all such
speculation is set at rest by Jesus telling the
disciples that they had seen a vision. As they
came down from the mountain, Jesus charged
them, saying: "Tell the vision to no man, until
the Son of man be risen again from the dead."
(Matt. 17:9.) To the disciples the vision
seemed a reality, just as to John at Patmos the
various visions recorded in Revelation were
clear and distinct; but our Lord certainly knew all about it, and we will rest on his testimony
that it was a vision.
To think otherwise would involve the contradiction
of sundry plain Bible statements;
for instance, Jesus was not yet crucified, hence
had not risen from the dead, and we know that
he is the "first-born from the dead." But if
Moses had already been resurrected, our Lord
Jesus was not the first-fruits of them that slept.
(1 Cor. 15:20.) The bringing back to life of
Lazarus and others, we have heretofore shown,
is not called resurrection, because they were not
entirely delivered from the power
of death--but died again.
But let us see, if we can, what lesson was
taught or what important truth was illustrated
by this transfiguration scene or vision. Doubtless
in that way we shall see a reason for the
presenting of Moses and Elijah in the vision.
Peter, who was one of those present on the
occasion, mentions it in his letter long afterward.
He says: "We have not followed cunningly
devised fables, when we made known
unto you the power and coming of our Lord
Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of his
majesty. For he received from God the Father
honor and glory, when there came such a voice
to him from the excellent glory: 'This is my
beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'
And this voice we heard, when we were with
him in the holy mount."--2 Pet. 1:16-18.
We understand Peter to tell us, then, that the
transfiguration vision was an illustration or presentation
in vision of the "majesty" and
"power" of his presence (parousia--here translated
coming). It is, then, to be understood
as representing the establishment of the Kingdom
at our Lord's second presence. Therefore,
from our standpoint, it is an illustration of the
present time, in which the King is present
and the Kingdom being established. Moses,
we have seen, represents the human element
of the Kingdom ("Moses, verily, was faithful in
all his house as a servant"--Heb. 3:5); while
Elijah represents the entire Gospel Church--
the spiritual house of sons. Elsewhere we have
seen that there will be these two classes in the
Kingdom--an earthly and a heavenly--over
all of which, the orderer of both phases, will
be Christ Jesus; and this fits perfectly with the
vision--Moses and Elijah, with our Redeemer
in the midst, transfigured and shining.
So now, in his presence, we see not only the
evidences of the spiritual Kingdom in the
harvesting and sifting of the wheat, but also
preparation being made for the establishment
of the earthly or perfect human phase of the
Kingdom. This is no cunningly devised fable,
and was not only shown to Peter and others in
vision, but "we have also a more sure word of
prophecy," which bears the same testimony,
"whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as
unto a light that shineth in a dark place."--
2 Pet. 1:19.