Refreshment in Refuge
by Gina Burgess
This was Moses’ first time to set feet upon the Promised Land. What an amazing thing to see in that isolated spot on the mountain: Victory and glory suddenly appear before their eyes. Peter, James, and John were the only three disciples that had this experience. What reason could God have had to show them this?
Jesus had just told Peter, “Get behind me Satan,” when Peter had refuted Jesus’ going to Jerusalem to be the sacrifice for the world. It was probably because of this, and because these three men would write letters, which God has preserved down through the ages, to believers that they glimpsed the glory to come. We get a clue when we read:
Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, 14 knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. 15 Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease. 16 For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 2 Peter 1:13
Eyewitnesses are given a foretaste of the glory to come to the Son of God, and to all believers, to testify about the incarnation of Christ, the resurrection of the body as well as the glory reserved for us.
It was comfort.
It was reminder of power.
It was something to look forward to, but the disciples didn't know it at the time.
It was necessary. Necessary for the three to see the transfiguration so they would have confidence.
Interesting that it was according to the law – two or three witnesses could testify to the truth of something, that every word be established (Deuteronomy 19:15).
That word transfigured is the Greek word metamorphoō which is exactly what it sounds like in English. Metamorphosis. It is not just looking different, but changing into something different, a different form like a caterpillar into a butterfly. As Jesus walked and taught, He was a servant. God drew a veil over His divinity, and made His humanness prevalent. Jesus’ body that had appeared weak and so humanly functional was transformed into splendor and glorious power. He was recognizable as Jesus, but so different in His glorified body.
This was the proof that God is light (1 John 1:5), that He dwells in light (1 Timothy 6:16), and that He covers Himself with light (Psalm 104:2). His face shone like the sun, and His garments were brilliantly white.
There were two righteous saints who came to witness the truth of who Jesus is. This is the proof that what Jesus said about the Kingdom of God was true.
Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear! Matthew 13:43
When Moses and Elijah appeared, Peter, James, and John saw how the spirits of just men were made perfect in Heaven .
Several things to observe:
1. They both were remarkable in how they left this earth. Moses’ body was never found, and Elijah was swept into Heaven in a fiery chariot.
2. Moses and Elijah needed no introduction to the disciples. Either by what they said to Jesus, or perhaps by their greeting one another, the disciples knew who they were.
3. They were leaders who performed miracles .
5. The Jews had deep respect for both of them.
So why do you think God sent Moses and Elijah particularly? There were many prophets that performed miracles. Aaron was the first high priest. Elisha parted water, and healed barren ground (2 Kings 2 & 3), and multiplied oil so it paid all the debts of an old woman so she could keep her sons (2 Kings 4:2) all because he asked for a double portion of Elijah’s ministry to be given to him.
I think it is because God was making a huge statement. Not only did His voice boom from heaven, “This is My Son, in whom I am well pleased,” but also because by Moses and Elijah appearing, the law and the prophets honored Jesus the Son of God. Perhaps another reason is that Moses was the mediator between the Children of Israel and God. He even prayed, “If it were possible to blot me out of the Book of Life...."
They were comfortable listening to Moses, Elijah, and Jesus in all their glory discuss things. Interested in learning about those things. They were a bit awestruck, but Peter was not struck mute. They knew Jesus, and were as familiar with Moses and Elijah as they were with their own fathers. They were finally fulfilling what David most desired.
One thing I have desired of the LORD that I will seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all my days, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple. Psalm 27:4
We can always count on Peter to boldly speak. He says, “It is good that we are here.” It is good to commune with our Lord even though our circumstances may be cold and bleak, it may be the middle of the night, Jesus is always there in all His glory to attend us no matter what. It is good that we recognize that it is good to be with Him.
I think Peter probably wanted this to continue, and nobly wanted the three to be comfortable, so he thought of building tents for them, apparently the same kind of tents or temporary shelters that were built during the Feast of Tabernacles. The Greek word here is extraordinary. Skēnē pronounced skay-nay’, which is a tent or cloth hut. Several Greek words are related to this word. The word for the Feast of Tabernacles as mentioned above, the word for tentmaker, the word for hut as in the human body as a tent for the Holy Spirit, the word to encamp or occupy, and the word for the Temple where God dwelt, or body as a tenement of the soul. These related words give some insight into what Peter may have been thinking when he suggests building a tent for each of them. Therefore, he wanted Jesus and Moses and Elijah to remain as they appeared, for things to be at status quo.
So Peter suggests building a tent for each of them. Does this remind you of something? Are not almost all the important places mentioned in the Bible covered by tabernacles “protecting” the spots where Jesus stepped, and was laid to rest? It is like mankind is so consumed by trying to honor God with huge cathedrals that he loses sight of the glory of God Himself. How can cathedrals compete with God's glory? We somehow think that these “trappings” will promote and extend our communion with Him.
The question begs to be asked: Why would Moses and Elijah wish to stay here on this miserable Earth with so many troubles and trials abounding? We know why Jesus chose to stay until He ascended to the Father. But why would Moses and Elijah care to do that?
Peter wanted the glory without the cross, and gave little thought to the other deciples. Somehow I do not think that is a really bad thing. I imagine when it comes my turn to go to Heaven, I will deeply desire to commune with Christ with little regard for who else is around. I want to worship at His feet for at least a million years before doing anything else. But that would be in Heaven. There really is no Heaven on earth, so trying to bring Heaven down is a vain task for sure.
Then the Father speaks, and all three fall to their faces. Everything drops into crystal clear perspective for them.
This is not the first time they had heard the Father’s voice. Once at Jesus’ baptism, I think to prepare Him and the disciples for the arduous task of teaching and preaching the Gospel. And now this time to prepare the Jesus for the most arduous task to ever be undertaken. Let us be sure to hear Him, to listen to all He says to us for God is only pleased by those who hear and who obey. Let us eagerly seek to hear those precious words, “Well done, My good and faithful servant!”
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She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.
If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection
Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and eBookChristian.com
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