The Mount of Transfiguration: What Was It Really All About?


There is some additional corroborative evidence that Jesus Christ should be the primary focus of every Christian’s Bible study.  It has already been shown in the previous paper, “Unveiling the Mystery of the Bible“, that it is the purpose of God, working through the ministration of His Holy Spirit, that He, alone, is the One Who must remove the veil from a person’s heart to allow him to see Jesus in the Old Testament scriptures.  God explains that it is by this means (and for His glory) that God revealed the New Testament of Jesus Christ (whereby salvation is possible, to both Jew and Gentile, only through Jesus Christ’s work of perfectly keeping the law and applying His work to us by His Spirit and not through our keeping the law apart from Him).  We see this in II Corinthians chapter 3, verse 4: “And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:  Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency [is] of God;  Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.  But if the ministration of death, written [and] engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which [glory] was to be done away:  How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?

God also underscores that the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ was not some last-minute addition to God’s original plan, but all along was central to it.  This is found in Romans 1.  There we read, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called [to be] an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,  (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)  Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;  And declared [to be] the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:”  To underscore that the term “gospel” does not just relate to the New Testament, God speaks of the Jews in Moses’ day as having heard the same gospel as we read beginning with Hebrews 3:12: “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.  But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;  While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.  For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.  But with whom was he grieved forty years? [was it] not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?  And to whom sware he that they (the unbelieving Jews in Moses’ day) should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.  Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left [us] of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.  For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard [it].”

Again, in Colossians chapter 1, we read, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus [our] brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace [be] unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,  Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love [which ye have] to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word (they heard it before only out of the Old Testament in those days) of the truth (Jesus is the “Truth” [John 14:6]) of the gospel (God’s covenant of grace through the person and work of Jesus Christ);”.

The Mount of Transfiguration Accounts:

The transfiguration of Jesus is a rather surprising account that we read about in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  The following verses review that account in its entirety:

Matthew 17:1-8, “And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,  And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.  And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.  Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.  While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which 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 face, and were sore afraid.  And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.  And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.  And 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.

Mark 9:2-10, “And after six days Jesus taketh [with him] Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them.  And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.  And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.  And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.  For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid.  And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.  And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves.  And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead.  And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean.

Luke 9:28-36, “ And it came to pass about an eight days* after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.  And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment [was] white [and] glistering.  And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias:  Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.  But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.  And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.  While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.  And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.  And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept [it] close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.

*NOTE: There is one “apparent” contradiction between the Luke account and that found in Matthew and Mark (i.e. eight days versus six days).  Please note that the Luke account says “about an eight days after” while the Matthew and Mark accounts state unequivocally “after six days.”  Although God’s purpose in providing this variation in the timing description is not immediately clear, it is not inconsistent with a parallel account in Exodus 24:16, where we read, “And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.”  We are also reminded of the fact that on that same mount Moses was told in Exodus 34:21  Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.

When we review and combine (or synthesize) these three accounts of the transfiguration into one, cohesive, whole, we find that the disciples (Peter, James, and John) first saw Jesus transfigured to a glorified state, and, furthermore, Moses and Elijah (who were also in a glorified state) were speaking with Jesus (concerning Jesus’s death).  Setting aside for a moment the issue of Peter’s offer to build “three tabernacles,” we next learn that a cloud overshadowed them, and God the Father speaks to the disciples concerning Jesus, “this is my beloved son:” and commands, “hear him.”  They “fell on their face, and were sore afraid.”  “Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise and be not afraid.”  Immediately afterwards, the only other person they see is Jesus (Moses and Elijah are gone).  Finally we read of Jesus’s reference to His death and resurrection, and His command to the disciples to keep secret what they had seen until after that time.

A number of questions come to mind.  What was the purpose for Jesus having been “transfigured”, and why did it happen before His death and resurrection?  Why did only Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus?  Why did they talk of Jesus’s coming death?  Why did they vanish after God the Father spoke from the cloud?  What was the significance of Jesus’s coming, His touching the disciples, and saying arise, be not afraid?  What about the three tabernacles that Peter offered to build?  Why did the disciples not understand the coming death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus Christ?

The Transfiguration: A Witness and Testimony of Jesus’s Majesty, Honor, and Glory That is Linked to His Resurrection* 

The most obviously significant aspect of the Transfiguration account is the Transfiguration of Jesus itself.  The Bible tells us in Matthew 17:2 that Jesus “was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.“; and in Mark 9:2&3 “was transfigured before them.  And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.“; and in Luke 9:29, “And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment [was] white [and] glistering.”  The big question we are immediately faced with is, “What is the purpose of this phenomenon?”   In seeking to answer this question, rather than just speculate, let’s look to God’s own commentary as spoken through an eyewitness to the original event.  Peter, as one of those witnesses states emphatically in II Peter 1:16-18, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majestyFor he received from God the Father honour 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 which came from heaven we (Peter, James, and John) heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

We are told that Jesus received honor and glory from God the Father in His excellent glory in Heaven.  This reaffirmation of the transfiguration account emphasizes that Jesus was indeed “glorified.”  The word translated as “majesty” that was used first by Peter is from a seldom used word, “megaleiotes” (Strong’s #3168).  It is a reference to more than Christ’s beauty of holiness and royal splendor.  In Luke 9:43, the same word is used to refer to Jesus’ “mighty power” over physical things.  Therefore, Peter is saying in effect that the prophets (both of the Old Testament as represented by Moses and Elijah, and the New Testament represented by Peter, James, and John (because, like Moses and Elijah, they too heard God speak directly to them)) were witnesses to the glory and mighty power of Jesus in the universe.

*  Thanks to the late Thomas Schaff, for his significant contributions to this section.

Certainly Jesus performed many amazing works to which Peter was a witness, but Peter had particular work in mind, that was Jesus’s resurrection and therefore His power over death and hell.  We can conclude this because Jesus tied His transfiguration to His resurrection in Mark 9:9, “And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead.”  Jesus knew that His apostles would not fully understand the meaning of what they had seen on the mountain until He arose from the dead.  Therefore He told them to say nothing until then.  The resurrection would make the meaning of all that happened on the mountain clear to them so that they could tell it to others.

The Transfiguration was a revelation, or “preview,” of Who Jesus is, and, in a way, the resurrection was proof that the revelation was true.  If they understood the resurrection they would understand the meaning of what happened on the mountain.  Also, if they understood the events on the mountain, they would understand the meaning of the resurrection.  However, until Jesus rose from the dead, the apostles wondered about the meaning of the resurrection as we see in Mark 9:10, “And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean.

At the time that Peter wrote the letter of II Peter, Peter understood the meaning for the events on the mountain and the meaning of the resurrection.  One other thing that stood out according to Peter, was the statement by the Father repeated in II Peter 1:17, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  Therefore, there is a close correlation between the resurrection and the words of the Father.  The resurrection was proof that Jesus was indeed the “beloved Son,” the Person whose glory Peter caught a glimpse when he was on the mountain.  (incidently, this another corollary can be found at the time of Jesus’s baptism.  We read in Matthew 3:16&17, “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:  And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  In that account Jesus’s coming out of the water was a another preview of the Jesus’ resurrection after having come under the judgment of God [the river Jordan is a type of Hell] at the hands of John the Baptist [a type for the law of God that demands “…the wages of sin [is] death;” [Romans 6:23].  Please refer to the paper, The Role of Baptism in the Life of the Believer)

Jesus was declared “beloved”.   He perfectly obeyed the Will of the Father in that Jesus voluntarily laid down His life.  Jesus showed that He completely paid for the sins of His sheep when He raised Himself from the dead and prove that His sacrifice was acceptable as a holy and complete payment for sin as we read in Romans 1:4, “And declared [to be] the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:” and Hebrews 5:8&9, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;“.

Moses: An Allegory for the Law of God that Spoke of Jesus Christ (In a Veiled Fashion)

But what of Moses and Elijah?  Where do they fit in?  We know that Moses is so intimately identified in the Bible with the Law of God that we often read of the “law of Moses” as we read in I Kings 2:2&3 where David’s last words to his son Solomon were, “I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself:.”  We also read in John 5:45 where Jesus said to the Jews, “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is [one] that accuseth you, [even] Moses, in whom ye trust.  For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.  But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?”  Furthermore, in II Corinthians, Chapter 3 beginning at verse 11, we find that the emphasis is on the fact that Jesus was concealed by God as if by a “veil” in the Old Testament (represented allegorically by Moses with “a veil over his face”), but revealed with “great plainness of speech” in the New testament as follows, “For if that which is done away [was] glorious, much more that which remaineth [is] glorious.  Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:  And not as Moses, [which] put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:  But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which [veil] is done away in Christ.  But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart.  Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.

Elijah: An Allegory for the Old Testament Prophets that Spoke of Jesus Christ and His Sufferings and the Glory that Should Follow

The Bible also makes it clear that the prophets of God in the Old Testament spoke of the Person and Atoning Work of Jesus Christ (i.e. His suffering and death) as we read in IPeter 1:7-11, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:  Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see [him] not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:  Receiving the end of your faith, [even] the salvation of [your] souls.  Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace [that should come] unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”  Again, in Acts 3:18, “But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.

Mark 14:21, “The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born.

The Law and the Prophets

When we look at how God uses the law (represented here by Moses) and the prophets (represented here by Elijah) we find some additional corroboration to underscore that indeed we are on the right track.  To begin, we find that God describes “the law and the prophets” as being essentially equivalent to the Old Testament as we read in Matthew 11:13, “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John (referring to John the Baptist who we read about in the New Testament).”  We also know that God distills the essence of the whole Old Testament into just two commandments (one of which is commonly referred to as the “golden rule”, as we find both in Matthew 22:37-40, “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.“) and in Matthew 7:12, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”  In John 1:45, we also find the account where, “Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  Furthermore, in Acts 28:23 we read about the preaching of Paul from “the law and the prophets”, “And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into [his] lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and [out of] the prophets, from morning till evening.”  Finally, in Luke 24:44, we read of Jesus speaking to the disciples after His resurrection, “And he (Jesus) said unto them, These [are] the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and [in] the prophets, and [in] the psalms, concerning me.”  The law and the prophets (as well as “the psalms”) spoke concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ! (And only Jesus was able to perfectly keep “the law and the prophets” and therefore also “the two great commandments.”)

Please note that the last quoted verse, Luke 24:44, is in perfect harmony with what can be found earlier in Luke (in verses 18:31-33) regarding what Jesus told the disciples just before his death and resurrection, “Then he (Jesus) took [unto him] the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.  For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:  And they shall scourge [him], and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.”  Please also note that when Jesus originally told the disciples these facts, they did not understand them because it was “hid” from them, as we read in the next verse, Luke 18:34, “And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.”  However, when Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection, we then read in Luke 24:45-47 that Jesus gave them the understanding, “Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,  And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:  And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”  This is just one more example of everyone’s need for God to open his spiritual eyes to spiritual truth even when something is plainly stated in the scriptures.

Before we leave this section, we should also consider one more aspect about the Mount of transfiguration and its relationship to “the law and the prophets.”  In Matthew 5:17 Jesus says, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”  Jesus fulfilled all that the law commanded and demanded, and prophets spoke concerning.  

The Overshadowing Cloud Points to the Glory of God in the Presence of His Saints 

There are numerous references to a “cloud” in the Bible, but the ones that appear to best express the its biblical meaning are found as follows: Exodus 19:16, “And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that [was] in the camp trembled.”  Exodus 24:15, “And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount.   Exodus 24:16, “And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.”  Exodus 33:21&22, “And the LORD said, Behold, [there is] a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:  And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:,” and a little later referring to the same account in Exodus 34:5, “And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him (Moses) there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.”  Exodus 40:34, “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.”  Numbers 14:14, “And they will tell [it] to the inhabitants of this land: [for] they have heard that thou LORD [art] among this people, that thou LORD art seen face to face, and [that] thy cloud standeth over them, and [that] thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.”  Deuteronomy 31:15, “And the LORD appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud: and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the tabernacle.”  There are also these verses, in the Book of Hebrews that follow immediately after the recountng of the great heros of faith (The Believers/the Saints) that glorified God, we read in Hebrews 12:1&2, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Then compare with these verses: Joh 17:10  And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I (Jesus Christ) am glorified in them (the saints).  2Th 1:10  When he (Jesus Christ) shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.

The Three Tabernacles?

Notice also the numerous references to “the tabernacle”.  Remember that in John 1:14 we read, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt (tabernacled) among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”  The word translated “dwelt” is from the Greek word “skenno” which means “to tabernacle” which is the same as we find in Revelation 21:3, “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God.”  Can you see why it was erroneous for Peter to want to build “three” separate tabernacles for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah?  In the historical setting it was unnecessary because Moses’ and Elijah’s habitation was a heavenly one, and more importantly, there is only one tabernacle, or abode, for the people of God.  As Jesus states in John 14:2, “In my Father’s house (singular) are many mansions: if [it were] not [so], I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”  Furthermore, in the spiritual context, the Door of the Tabernacle, and the Tabernacle Itself, is Jesus Christ.  Most importantly, it was Jesus alone, Who prepared that tabernacle, not the disciples.

The Disciples’ Fearful Falling to the Ground, and Jesus’s Raising Them Up

We read in Matthew 17:6 that the disciples, when they heard the voice of God, “fell on their face.”  That action is representative of what anyone will do when he hears the voice of Almighty God.  It is a sign of worship, reverence, and obeisance.  We see examples of such action in Genesis 17:3, “And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,…”; in II Samuel 9:6, “Now when Mephibosheth (an allegorical type of every believer), the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David (an allegorical type of Jesus Christ), he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant!“; in II Chronicles 20:18, “And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with [his] face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD.“; and in Luke 5:12, “And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on [his] face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”   Please also note the similarity of the obedient nature exhibited by Joshua in Joshua 5:14, “And he said, Nay; but [as] captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?” and the obedient nature of Jesus in Matthew 26:39, “And he (Jesus) went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou [wilt].

In the Matthew account of the Transfiguration, we read in Matthew 17:7, “And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.”  Immediately, we see a number of features in this verse that pertain to the gospel message (regarding the Person and work of Jesus Christ) that are found everywhere else in the Bible.  The essence of salvation is predicated on the coming of Jesus Christ.  He, alone, is the means of that salvation.  Salvation is dependent on His Work.  That is also why we next read that He touched them, and He said to arise, and He said to be not afraid.

Touch:

There are quite a number of verses in the Bible that pertain to Jesus’s “touching” or being “touched” by someone.  In every case the result is symbolic of what happens to someone who becomes saved.  We see this in the case of Jesus’s healing the leper in Matthew 8:3 (and Mark 1:41 and Luke 5:13), “And Jesus put forth [his] hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”  In the cure of the Peter’s mother-in-law from a fever in Matthew 8:15, “And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.”  In the cleansing of the woman from her issue of blood as we read in Matthew 9:20 (and Mark 5:27-34), “And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind [him], and touched the hem of his garment:  For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.  But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.” and Matthew 14:35 (and Mark 6:56), “And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased;  And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.”  In Matthew 9:27-30, “And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, [Thou] son of David, have mercy on us.  And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.  Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.  And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See [that] no man know [it].”  In Mark 7:32, we read of the deaf and dumb man being healed by Jesus, “And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him.  And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue;  And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.  And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.”  Finally, in Luke 7:12-16, “Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her.  And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.  And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare [him] stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.  And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.  And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.

Not only did these miracles serve as physical proofs that Jesus was the promised Messiah (according to Luke 7:22 which, in answer to John the Baptist’s query on that subject, which states, “Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.“), but in each of these miracles are found clear references to the miracle of salvation so equally and graciously given by God to whomever He wills.

Arise:

The word “Arise” spoken by Jesus to the Dead man in the funeral bier in Luke 7:14 is the same word spoken by Jesus to the disciples on the Mount of transfiguration!  The word used in both accounts is from the Greek word, “egiero” (Strong’s # G1453)  It is also the same word used in Luke 8:49-56, “While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue’s [house], saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master.  But when Jesus heard [it], he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole.  And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden.  And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth.  And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.  And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise.  And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.  And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done.”  Again we see the beautiful portrait of God performing the miracle of salvation.  Note that just as was the case on the Mount of Transfiguration, we see Jesus “touching” (in this case the dead girl), Jesus”s saying both to “Arise” and “Fear not.”

Fear Not:

According to the Matthew account, after the disciples heard the voice of God the Father speaking to them from the cloud, they “fell on their face, and were sore afraid.”  This fear is reminiscent of what we find was the case back in Exodus 19:16 when the ten Commandments were given.  That Exodus account closely parallels the Mount of Transfiguration account in that it involved another “Mount” (Mount Sinai), another cloud (a thick cloud), when the people heard another “voice” (of a trumpet and thunderings) and trembled.  Furthermore, in Exodus chapter 20:18&19, immediately after Moses had finished reading the Ten Commandments (“the Law”), we read, “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw [it], they removed, and stood afar off.  And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”  Then Moses told the people to “fear not” (just as Jesus told to the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration to “be not afraid”) as we read in the next verse, “And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.

The Bible makes it clear that the “fear” of God is the beginning of Wisdom as we read in Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy [is] understanding.”  We also know, according to Hebrews 10:31, “[It is] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”  God tells us Matthew 10:28, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”  God is the One Who has that power, for we read in Isaiah 8:13, “Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and [let] him [be] your fear, and [let] him [be] your dread.”  However, once someone has become saved, because, in reality, Jesus “touched” that person (to cleanse him of his sinfulness (typified by the various states of leprosy, uncleanness, disease, deafness, dumbness, blindness, and death) and commanded that He “Arise” (from the dead), while that person would have rightly “feared” God with a terrifying “Fear” at the initial “hearing” of the word of God, there is no longer any reason to continue to have that kind of “fear,” but rather an ongoing reverential “Awe” of the God of his salvation.

 

The Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ

The disciples questioned among themselves concerning the meaning of the Jesus’s being risen from the dead.”  This was because the revelation of the meaning of it was withheld from them until the appropriate time by God as we read later in the account of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus following (and on the very day of) Jesus’s resurrection in Luke 24:13-32.  Interestingly, there again we read of “Moses and all the prophets,” “And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem [about] threescore furlongs.  And they talked together of all these things which had happened.  And it came to pass, that, while they communed [together] and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.  But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.  And he said unto them, What manner of communications [are] these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?  And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?  And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:  And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.  But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.  Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;  And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.  And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found [it] even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.  Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:  Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?  And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.  And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.  But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.  And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed [it], and brake, and gave to them.  And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.  And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?”  Please also note how just a few verses later, in verse 44, Jesus reiterates to His disciples the point that all the Old Testament scriptures ultimately have their fulfillment in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, “And he said unto them, These [are] the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and [in] the prophets, and [in] the psalms, concerning me.”

The Ethiopian Eunuch

A similar account is found in Acts 8:26-39 concerning the encounter between the Ethiopian eunuch and Philip, “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.  And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,  Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.  Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.  And Philip ran thither to [him], and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?  And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.  The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:  In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.  And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?  Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.  And as they went on [their] way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, [here is] water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?  And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.  And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

 

Conclusion

In all these accounts, we find the Old Testament scriptures (typified by Moses and Elijah, and in the last account, by Isaiah) are always pointing to the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Once the scriptures are expounded upon by a guide, or preacher, of the Word (in the first instance God the Father; secondly Jesus Himself; then, in the third account, the Holy Spirit led disciple, Philip) the elected hearers see and hear only Jesus.  They know Him.  But, perhaps most significantly, it is with their spiritual eyes and ears, not their physical ones.  In the transfiguration account the disciples first saw Moses and Elijah (who typified the Old Testament scriptures) but after they were told by God to “hear” Jesus, they “saw” only Jesus (Moses and Elijah had disappeared).  In the road to Emmaus account, the two disciples didn’t see the person and work of Jesus in the Old Testament Scriptures, they only saw Moses (“the law”) and “the prophets” (including Elijah).  They didn’t recognize Jesus because it was witholden from them until Jesus “broke the bread” for them.  Lastly, the Ethiopian eunuch didn’t know if Isaiah spoke of himself or some other man.  However, once Jesus was expounded to him from the text (by a disciple commissioned and under the power of the Holy Spirit), then the Ethiopian believed Jesus to be the Son of God.*

Other Verses to Ponder:

II Corinthians 4:5-10, “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.  For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.  [We are] troubled on every side, yet not distressed; [we are] perplexed, but not in despair;  Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;  Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

Hebrews 1:1&2, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,  Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

Hebrews 12:2, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

II Peter 3:17&18, “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know [these things] before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.  But grow in grace, and [in] the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him [be] glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Colossians 2:6-9, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, [so] walk ye in him:

Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.   For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

I Corinthians 8:6, “But to us [there is but] one God, the Father, of whom [are] all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom [are] all things, and we by him.

* It is interesting to see yet another parallel with the account of Jesus and the disciples on the road to Emmaus in the account of Joseph (who typified Jesus Christ) and his brothers (typifying the disciples/believers) in Genesis 45:1-5.  In both cases, the identities of Joseph and Jesus were hidden from the others until a later time when they were alone with them.

 

Postscript: Elias (Elijah) Must First Come?

There is yet another lesson to be learned from the Mount of Transfiguration account.  Immediately after the recording of that account in both Matthew and Luke we find the following statements:

Matthew 17:9&10,  “And 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.  And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?

Mark 9:11, “ And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come?

Notice that it is evident that the scribes of Jesus’ day had concluded that Elijah would have to return in a physical, bodily, form before a resurrection of the dead on Judgment Day could occur.  In all likelihood, they were drawing that conclusion from what they read in Malachi 4:5&6 where we read, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD; And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

In Luke 1:13-17, we see that this should correctly be understood to mean that the children of Israel (the children of God) would be led back to God (the fathers) by John the Baptist as a prophet of God.  It reads, “But the angel said unto him, fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard: thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.  Thou shalt have great joy and gladness and many shall rejoice at his birth.  For he (John the Baptist) shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and he shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.  And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.  And he (John the Baptist) shall go before him (Jesus Christ) in the spirit and power of Elias (Greek for Elijah), to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

We see then, that the prophesy of Malachi 4:6 was already fulfilled during the life of John the Baptist!  Jesus Himself confirmed this, because when speaking of John the Baptist in Matthew 11:14+15, Jesus said, “And if ye will receive [it], this is Elias (Elijah in Greek), which was for to come.  He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.“!  To further underscore that this is the only way to interpret Malachi 4:5+6, we read in Matthew 17:10-13, “And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?  And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.  But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed.  Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.  Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

The disciples of Jesus “understood” that Malachi 4:5+6 had been fulfilled by John the Baptist.  They “received it.”  They “had ears to hear.”  If anyone can’t accept this, then he is exactly like those who had John the Baptist thrown into prison and beheaded, and worse, also had Jesus Christ crucified, because “they knew him not.”  Such a person would be doing what he pleased (listed) with the word of God and would be rejecting the true Jesus of the Bible.

Let’s Look back again for a moment at Malachi 4:6, to consider the meaning of “the hearts of the fathers are being turned to the children, and the hearts of the children are being turned to the fathers.”  Again, we must compare scripture with scripture (1 Cor 2:13) to see what God really has in mind.  We know that while, historically, “fathers” in the Bible refer to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (i.e. see Deut 29:13, and 30:20) we also know that they are allegorical representatives of God Himself.  Remember that in Malachi 1:6, we see that, “a son honoreth his father and a servant his master: if then I (God) be a father, where is mine honor?”  Even the plural form, fathers, is consistent with this idea (i.e., God in three persons, as in “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:,” from Genesis 1:26).  The “children” on the other hand (the disobedient in the land of Israel, the children of God), would be turned to the wisdom of the just (their hearts turned to God) and that this would be done so that God would prepare a people for Himself (through salvation through Jesus Christ, as John the Baptist preached).  Also note that in Titus 3:3 we read, “for we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived,… But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared.

When God warns of “smiting the earth with a curse,” from Malachi 4:6, He was teaching that if He did not prepare a people for Himself through the redemptive action of Jesus Christ (as the Lamb of God) which was required for the salvation of His people, then His justice would demand that the whole earth would remain under the curse of God, doomed to destruction on that great and dreadful day (Judgment Day), and none would be saved.

Remember that John the Baptist’s primary message was, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” as he declared when he saw Jesus Christ coming (see John 1:29 and 1:36).

 

                       The Holy Temple of God Must Be Built Before Jesus Can Come?

This reminds me of a similar misunderstanding of Scripture that faces most Christians in our day.  Many people believe that before Jesus Christ can return there must first be the rebuilding of a literal, physical, earthly holy temple of God in the earthly, physical, city of Jerusalem.  They fail to realize that the holy temple of God is a spiritual structure made up of true believing Christians (described as pillars in the temple) that will be made manifest coincident with the appearance of the new Jerusalem in Heaven.  This is what we read in 1 Peter 2:5-8, where God equates the true believers to “lively stones” that are part of the spiritual temple of God of which Jesus Christ is the “chief cornerstone.”  “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.  Wherefore also it is contained in scripture, (Found in Isaiah 28:16 and Psalm 118:22) behold I lay in Si-on a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.  Unto you therefore which believe he (The Lord Jesus Christ) is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” (See also Isaiah 8:14, Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10, Luke 20:17, Acts 4:11, and Romans 9:53)

So that there can be absolutely no doubt that the holy temple of God could never, ever, again be defined by physical stones and mortar, we read in Ephesians 2:19-22, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God: And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone: In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Finally, in 2 Corinthians 6:16, we read, “Ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said (see Ezekiel 37:26&27), I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

To more clearly understand why there could never again be any need for an earthly, physical temple of God following the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, we have only to search the scriptures to review what happened at the precise moment of His death.  We read in Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, and Luke 23:45 that, at that very moment, the veil of the temple was rent in twain (torn in two) from top to bottom.  The result was that the “Holiest of all,” (see Hebrews 9:3) the tabernacle altar of God (where only the high priest, alone, could venture once a year to make an atoning sacrifice of blood on the Day of Atonement) which had heretofore always been hidden from outside view by the veil, had now been fully exposed by God to show that the sign or figure that the “Holiest of all” of the temple represented had been perfectly fulfilled in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ; as He was both the sacrificial Lamb of God and the High Priest that offered the perfect atoning blood sacrifice.  God was showing that the function of the earthly temple had come to an end! (Read all of Hebrews chapter 9 to see that this is so)

Although the Jewish high priest (Caiaphas) no doubt rushed in to repair the torn veil so that he, and the other Jewish high priests that followed him, could continue the yearly atonement sacrificial rite until the physical temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., the priestly actions would have been pure vanity and rebellion against God.  They could not have had any effect or substance so far as God’s plan of salvation was concerned.  In fact, (according to Isaiah 66:1-4) they would have only been an abomination in God’s sight (because by carrying out those rites, the Jews were continuing to deny that Jesus Christ had come to fulfill the law of sacrifice, which had all along been the sole focal point of the blood sacrifices that were carried out in the temple before Christ died).  This is the most likely reason why God finally allowed the physical temple in Jerusalem to be destroyed for the third (and last) time, and why he scattered the Jews (until our day).  Additionally, because God also subsequently allowed the Islamic Dome of the Rock to be built on the temple site in Jerusalem, the Jews have been prevented from rebuilding the temple ever again (despite the fact that the Jews have had political sovereignty over Jerusalem since 1967).

Today’s Application

When people today argue that Jesus cannot return until the Temple is first rebuilt in Jerusalem, they are in effect speaking just like the scribes in Jesus’s day who did not have the understanding that the fulfillment of the coming of Elijah would be spiritually fulfilled in John the Baptist.  They do not see that in the same way the Temple of God is a “spiritual house” (made up of the universal body of believers joined together through the witnessing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ) that must be first be completed, and not a physical building.

Explore posts in the same categories: Bible Studies

Tags: , , , , , , ,

You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: