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The Glorious Mount

Scripture: Mark 9:1-10
Date: 04/06/2002 
This sermon speaks of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Moses (who represents the law) and Elijah (who represents the prophets) appeared to Christ. This glorious experience was to strengthen the disciples belief in Him as the Messiah. It was a miniature picture of the second coming.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Second only to the axis [access?] of the Cross, there’s a story in the Bible that is found in the synoptic Gospels, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, that is sort of the climax of proof that Jesus was the Messiah. That story is the story of the Mount of Transfiguration, sometimes called the Holy Mount, the Glorious Mount. And you know, in my eight years here I have never specifically addressed that in a Bible study with you. But this morning we’re going to do that.

So I’d like to invite you to take your Bibles and turn with me to the Gospel of Mark. Now you may want to also take out a pen. This is a good Bible study. And you may want to take a few notes.

It’s found in three places: Mark chapter 9…I’m going to read from Mark 9 because it starts with verse 1, it’s very easy to follow…It’s also in Matthew 16:28 and Luke 9 beginning with verse 27. And as you’re finding that I’ll give you a little bit of the background of what happened in this event. And this event is full of meaning for you and me as Christians. It also is very prolific in unfolding other Bible truths.

After a long day of teaching and ministering to the multitudes, Christ and His disciples separated themselves. And as they walked along together He was making His way towards a steep mountain. We don’t know what mountain that was. It may have been Mount Tabor, some say, tradition says. Some say, “No it’s an exceeding high mount, it must have been Mount Hermon.” Well, that would have been a long way from where Jesus was ministering. That’s up in Lebanon. When it says a high mount, it can mean a steep mountain. So we don’t know what mountain it was.

But as they were preparing to go to the mountain, He says something to them that’s very unusual. Verse 1 of Mark 9, “Assuredly I say to you, there will be some of you standing here who will not taste of death till they see the kingdom of God come or present with power.” He said, “You’re going to see this.” And then He hand-picked His little trinity of apostles, Peter, James, and John. He left the others at the base of the mountain. He said, “We’ll come back.” And He invited them to come up the mountain with Him.

And as they made their way up the hill the sun was going down. By the time they reached the summit it was dark. They were exhausted. They were a little discouraged because they had already begun to encounter some of the resistance, the opposition, the threats from the religious leaders and they were uncertain about the future. They were a little confused about Christ’s ministry. They thought the Messiah was going to come in with His power and overthrow the Romans. And Jesus was so polite and so meek. And so this is the atmosphere, this is what’s going through the disciples’ minds.

Christ falls on the ground and begins to pray. Darkness gathers all around. Hour after hour goes by and they are praying. And pretty soon the disciples, they want to pray but, you know, as they’ve done before, they get tired and they drift off to sleep. And during that time as Christ is praying, suddenly the heavens open. And from the gates ajar in glory a couple of individuals exit Heaven and at the speed of thought they come to the side of Christ. And the place on top of the mountain is now beaming with the brightest light that’s ever been on earth.

You know, you’ve maybe heard me share this amazing fact that right now the brightest light on earth is coming out of the top of the Luxor hotel in Las Vegas. They have 45 xenon lights, each one as big as a washing machine, the brightest light bulb, that are shooting lights straight up into space out of the top of the Luxor hotel. You know Luxor hotel looks a big…I’ve never been there, I want you to know… it looks like a big pyramid. And I’ve flown into Las Vegas and you can see it… As a matter of fact I’ve heard that pilots at times, flying over that beam of light, it will shine up into their cockpits and blind them temporarily because it is so bright. And so you know that the flight service warns them to stay away around that vicinity—it’s a no fly area—less they become blinded. The space shuttle can see that light. I’ve often thought, what a waste. The brightest light on earth today is all wasted. It’s not lighting anything. It’s shooting out into nowhere.

Well, from the top of this mountain the brightest light in the world was emanating. It was light from heaven. And in that light was three individuals. Now I’m going to read it to you. Mark 9:1, “He said to them, ‘Assuredly I say to you there are some of you standing here who will not taste of death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.’ Now after six days, Jesus took with Him Peter, James, and John and He led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His clothes became shining, exceeding white, like snow such as no launderer (no soap) on earth can whiten them. And Elijah appeared with them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.

Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’—because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid. And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!’ Suddenly, when they looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves. Now as they came down from the mountain, He commanded them that they should tell no one of the things they had seen till the Son of Man should rise from the dead. So they kept this word to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead should mean.”

Now, that’s the story. And you’ll find a slight variation in Matthew. A few additional details in the Gospel of Luke. But I would like to march through this experience with you and see what we can learn.

First thing is, I believe, the obvious. You notice in our Scripture reading Elizabeth read that famous last prophecy in the Old Testament. Malachi 4:4, “Remember the law of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I send you Elijah the prophet before the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”

But, I think it’s significant—the last thing it says in the Old Testament is “Remember the Law of Moses. Behold I send you Elijah.” Now, the Word of God is wonderful, if for no other reason, because it is so precise. Did Moses and Elijah come to Jesus in the New Testament? They both did quite literally appear to Him. Now you might be asking this question, “Doug, doesn’t the Bible teach that those who die are asleep until the resurrection?” And you might naturally ask as a follow-up question, “Was this just a vision of Moses and Elijah, or was it really them?” It was really them.

Now, how did Moses get there? You might be wondering. How could Moses be in Heaven, isn’t he dead? The Bible says he died, 120 years old, and the Lord buried him. But, you read in the book of Jude, there’s only one chapter, verse 9, that Michael the angel came and resurrected Moses. Jewish tradition even tells us that three days after Moses died, the Lord raised him so that Moses could watch the children of Israel cross over into the Promised Land.

Now, we know how Elijah got there. It’s one of the great stories of the Bible, how the Lord sent a personal limousine from Heaven, of angels, to rapture up Elijah and Elijah was caught up to Heaven in that fiery chariot. That’s where we get that song…swing down sweet chariot…looked over Jordan, what did I see? A band full of angels coming after me. That’s based on that experience of Elijah being taken up into Heaven in that fiery chariot.

So those of you who think that you can still pray to the saints, there are really only two saints in Heaven, you’re not supposed to pray to them, that we know about by name. Well, there’s more than that. Elijah, Moses, we know about Enoch. Enoch is touring, he doesn’t appear later. There are the 24 elders, but we don’t know their names. There are some of those that were perhaps in that resurrection of Jesus in Matthew 28.

Why did He pick Moses and Elijah? Moses represents the Law, Elijah represents the Prophets. Now, I’d like to take this story point by point and look at it and see if we can understand what’s happening here. Christ reveals His glory unlike any other time in His ministry. He is deified. He not only appears as Jesus, the son of Joseph the carpenter, He now appears as the Creator of the universe. His glory is not veiled.

Why did Jesus take them up the mountain and give them this vision of His glory? Well, several reasons. First of all, the disciples were preparing to see Jesus completely humiliated. They were about to see Christ stripped, naked, bleeding, very mortal, very human looking, covered with a blanket of the sins of the world, disgraced, rejected, using none of His power to deliver Himself. The Lord knew that would be a great trial for them.

And so to strengthen them during that time, He said, “I need to give them something.” And I believe He was on the mountain praying specifically, “Lord, give them evidence that I am who I am.” And the Father...the Father always heard Jesus’ prayers…and the Father then opened the gates of Heaven, shed His glory on Christ. That same voice that was heard at the baptism of Jesus that said, “This is My beloved Son,” is heard again saying, “This is My beloved Son,” to endorse Christ as the Messiah.

The disciples needed this reassurance because they kept thinking, “He says He’s the Messiah, but…when are You going to overthrow the Romans?” Even after three and a half years. You know what the disciples said there in there in Acts 1? “Will you at this time establish the Kingdom? Are we to put on our armor now? Are we to call out the forces and arm the tanks? When are you going to overthrow the Romans?” They kept thinking about an earthly kingdom. This was so thoroughly, deeply entrenched in the Jewish mind, that the Messiah was coming as a conquering king to overthrow...

They took out the prophecies about the second coming of Jesus as a lion and they confused them with the prophecies of the first coming as a lamb. You see what happened? You know, the church is doing the same thing today. They’re taking the prophecies about the second coming where He comes in glory, loud like a lion and they’re saying He’s coming secretly like a lamb. Have you noticed that? The devil always twists things.

So He gave them this vision. Why did they go? They went up the mountain to encourage the disciples so when He hung on the Cross in His humiliation they would remember the vision they had of Jesus in His divinity.

Now, these two individuals that appeared up there on the mountain are types of the Words of God. And they represent the Law and the Prophets. Moses and Elijah.

Now I want to read several Scriptures to you. If you have your Bibles, you might lick your thumb and get ready to look some of these up.

Jesus says in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I am come to destroy the Law and the Prophets. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” Moses the great lawgiver in the Old Testament, Elijah the greatest of the prophets in the Old Testament—I don’t think anyone will concede that [I think he meant to say ‘contest’]. He stood alone against all those false prophets, he went to Heaven in a fiery band of angels—They were a symbol for the Word of God. And Christ is saying I did not come to destroy the Word of God, but I am the fulfillment of the Word of God. Moses on the right and Elijah on the left. I’m sorry, I don’t know which side they were on so you mix that up any way you want. But Moses on one side, Elijah on the other side, surrounding Christ, are to give you and me a very vivid picture that the Word of God endorses, confirms, points to, fulfills, Jesus as the Messiah.

This experience on the mountain, with the voice of God the Father Almighty speaking, as He spoke to Moses on the mountain, is to prove to you and me that Jesus was the Desire of Ages. Jesus was the volume of the Book. He is the one that it was all pointing to. And especially for the Jewish people who struggled so much about Jesus being the Messiah. This is a very good study for your Jewish friends. The Law (Moses), the Prophets (Elijah), pointed to Jesus. He was the fulfillment of all of their teaching.

Luke 16:31. When Christ spoke to the disciples He said, in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one should rise from the dead.” Look at the priority that Jesus puts on the Word of God. He says, no matter what miracles you see, even someone rising from the dead, even someone like Lazarus being dead for four days and then rising, what did they want to do? They wanted to kill Him. They said, “Show us a sign.” You know what Christ said was the best sign? If they don’t believe Moses and the Prophets.

So Moses and the Prophets appearing to Christ on the mountain is a symbol of the endorsement of the Word of God. When Christ rose from the dead, Luke 24:27, “Beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures…” What do Moses and the Prophets represent? All the Scriptures. “…the things concerning Himself.” Are you seeing this friends? Do you see the picture here on top of the mountain? I want you to picture Jesus standing between Moses and Elijah. It’s a symbol. And they are talking to Him, they are communing with Him. They’re pointing to Him. He is the fulfillment of all that they represent. The Word of God, the Law and the Prophets. “He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”

Now, why is that especially important for you and me to understand in the last days? Do you remember a verse in Revelation chapter 12? Verse 17. Who knows that by heart, let me see your hands. Come on, Revelation 12:17. “And the Dragon…” Now how many of you remember what I’m talking about? How many of you know that by heart? Say it with me. “And the dragon was wroth with the woman and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

Alright. This woman that the dragon, the devil, wages war against—this woman is the church. The dragon is waging war against her. Two outstanding characteristics: She has the commandments and the testimony of Jesus. What is the testimony of Jesus? Later in Revelation it clears that up. He says in Revelation 19:10, “Worship God for the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy.” The Law (she keeps the commandments of God), and has the testimony of Jesus, (which is what?) the Spirit of Prophecy). The Law and the Prophets. So what are two outstanding characteristics of God’s church? She has the Word of God. The Law and the Prophets. Moses and Elijah.

Now, having said that, how many of you want the seal of God? I want the seal of God. Listen to what it says about the seal of God. “Bind up the testimony, seal the Law among My disciples.” Who knows where that’s found? See I did like Nebuchadnezzar. I gave you the Scripture without giving you the verse. He says, “You tell me the dream and I’ll know the interpretation.” That’s Isaiah 8:16. “Bind up the testimony, seal the Law among My disciples.”

You know what that makes me think of? When Moses, before he died, issued his last sermon. He said to the children of Israel…he repeated the Ten Commandments. This is Deuteronomy 5. After he repeats the Ten Commandments, he says, “These words that I have spoken unto you this day shall be in your heart. You shall bind them upon your hand. They shall be as frontlets between your eyes.” The Law and the Testimony sealed in the minds and the hearts and the hands of God’s people. By the Holy Spirit they’re sealed there. “Grieve not the Holy Spirit wherewith you are sealed.” And so the Word of God must be rooted and sealed in the hearts and the minds of God’s people. Are you saturated with the Word? This is something that’s being addressed here.

Isaiah 8:20. How do we discriminate? How do we determine what is true? “To the Law (commandments of God) and the Testimony (let me word it this way—according to Moses and Elijah), if they do not speak according to this word, it’s because there is no light in them.” This is the word of God. You might even say, if you don’t want to say ‘the Law and the Prophets,’ you can say in ’the New and the Old Testament.’ That will work. It’s talking about the Bible which is divided here in two parts. This is the determining factor. To the Law and the Testimony we’re to evaluate truth and determine what is truth. “If they speak not according to this word there is no light in them.”

“Oh, but they quote Scripture.” But their ‘light’ becomes ‘unlight’ when you mix it with error. Isn’t that how it works? Food becomes unfood when you put in a drop of poison. It becomes disqualified. Notice this. Romans 3:21, “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets.” The righteousness of God is witnessed by the Law and the Prophets. Moses and Elijah were witnesses of the righteousness of God. Jesus was the righteousness of God. They were witnesses of that.

Now you know where we’re going next? In Revelation chapter 11 we find out about the two witnesses. I’m going to read that to you from the Bible. Turn with me please to Revelation chapter 11. I don’t have time to do a whole study on this, but I do want to read a few verses. When you understand the Mount of Transfiguration, it’s a key that unlocks a whole spectrum of Bible truths.

Verse 3, Revelation 11, “And I’ll give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.” You notice it doesn’t say the two witnesses only prophesy one thousand two hundred and sixty days. It says of the time these two witnesses prophesy (witnesses for God witness all the time), of that time one thousand two hundred and sixty days, or years, will be in sackcloth. Under potato sack. And during the dark ages, from 538 to 1798 the two witnesses, the Word of God, the Law and the Prophets, their prophecy was obscured. It was like with a bag over it, through sackcloth. That’s a potato bag, so to speak.

“These are my two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of all the earth.” Some of you remember in Zachariah it talks about the two witnesses, the lampstands, the olive trees, by the throne of God. And these are symbols again for the Word of God. It takes the oil from the Spirit to give us understanding of the Word. You remember where Jesus sealed His covenant. He climbed up Mount Olivet and there was an olive grove called Gethsemane, which means “olive press.” And Christ was pressed there. And there He sealed His commitment to die for our sins.

It goes on to say, “These are the two olive trees, the two lampstands before the God of all the earth.” That’s from Zachariah 4:2. “If anyone wants to hurt them fire proceeds out of their mouths and devours their enemies.” You know, Elijah prayed and fire came down on his enemies. In the days of Moses fire came down also. Burned up the sons of Aaron. “If anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this manner. These have power to shut up heaven,” so it does not rain, “so no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over water to turn them to blood.” Did Elijah pray and the rain stop? Are you with me? Did Moses pray (and he ministered you should say with Aaron’s rod) and the water turned to blood? So here it’s talking about the two witnesses and it brings out some of the characteristics from both the Word of God and the ministries of Moses and Elijah.

Now, the reason I mention this here, I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but there are a lot of very dear people out there in the Christian world, many of them are charismatic Christians, that believe that in the last days Moses and Elijah will literally come to earth again and be killed and lay in the streets for three and a half days. Have you heard this? Let me see your hands. Have you heard this before? You’ll hear it, if you haven’t heard it.

It’s kind of pathetic. They’re somewhat right in that the Law and the Prophets, the Word of God, are the two witnesses, which Moses and Elijah are a symbol of. But Moses and Elijah now have their glorified bodies. Can you think of anybody besides Christ, any human, who’s coming back to earth to die again after they’ve received their glorified body? No. God would not do that. It says that after we are caught up to meet the Lord, so shall we ever be with the Lord. They’re not coming back down to be dishonored in this way. Moses and Elijah are a symbol of the Word of God. Just like Joseph was a symbol or type of Christ. But it’s not literal. They’re types of these things.

So they’re the two witnesses that you find. Not only do Moses and Elijah, a symbol of the Word of God, the Word of God is the two witnesses that you find in Revelation 11. Beyond that, it’s the double-edged sword. The Bible says in Ephesians 6, “And the sword of the Spirit,” which is what? The Word of God. And then you read in Hebrews 4:12, “For the Word of God is living and powerful.” Are you glad the Word of God is living? I mean, it’s vibrant. It changes us. It’s not just ink on paper, it’s real. “And sharper than any…” what? “…two-edged sword.” What do you think the two edges are? Moses and Elijah. The New and the Old Testament. The two witnesses.

You know, one reason I think that God does things this way… The Bible says, “In the mouth of…” what? “…let everything be established?” “In the mouth of two or three witnesses.” On the Mount of Transfiguration you begin with two (Moses and Elijah), finally the voice of the Father—three witnesses—saying that Jesus is the Messiah.

What better witnesses would you like to have on your behalf than Moses, Elijah, and God Almighty? Could Christ have picked any better three witnesses that people on earth would believe—that the disciples and the Jews would believe—than Moses and Elijah? Maybe you could throw in Abraham. But after Moses and Elijah the only place you’ve got that’s higher is the Father. Those are the three witnesses all around Jesus saying, “This is Him! He’s the one that the world’s been waiting for! The Messiah! The Savior! God came to earth in the form of a man and it was Jesus!” You and I don’t have to wonder about that. This vision seals, confirms, that truth.

Revelation 1:16. Christ appears. “In His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth is a sharp two-edged sword.” Christ said, “I don’t come to send peace but…” what? “…a sword.” Because His Word coming out of His mouth. You realize, of course, this again is Revelation, a symbol. Jesus with a sword coming out of His mouth. How many really believe that He walks around carrying His cutlery in His mouth? No, it’s a symbol of the Word of God coming out of His mouth. It can divide. Not only does the Word of God divide us from sin, it convicts, but it also may divide people. Those who don’t want to hear are divided from those who do believe. The Word of God can be divisive in that way.

So Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets, the two witnesses, the double-edged sword.

Now what did they talk about on the mountain? You know, one thing I’ve wondered… When Moses and Elijah were there, the account both in Matthew, Mark, Luke… It says, “And suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared.” Now, if all of a sudden George Bush should walk into this room now, I’d say, “We’re glad President Bush is here.” And I’d know right away it was him. How would I know? I’ve never met him. I’ve seen pictures. I’ve seen video. Lots and lots of it. So I’d know it was him.

Did Peter, James, and John have any pocket photos or DVD’s of Moses and Elijah? How did they know it was them? Ah, they must heard. It wasn’t what they saw, but what they said. Obviously Jesus referred to them by name. They were communing. They were talking. And Christ said, “Moses, Elijah.” Maybe Elijah said, “Moses, you ask Him this question.” And Elijah said, “No, Moses, you ask Him this question.” Or something like that. But they were addressing each other.

Then, beyond that, I believe, that when you have a vision, I believe, that your perception and your discernment is not duller, I believe it’s sharper. I believe the Lord reveals things to you in a supernatural way. And I think they not only heard, they not only saw, I think they knew who they were. It’s sort of like somebody who spends years corresponding with a loved one by mail. When they finally show up at the boat dock or the train station, the airport, they may not have seen the photo yet, but by listening to different people they might identify them. And they had been reading the writings of Moses. They had been listening to the stories of Elijah. They knew who they were by divine revelation.

What did they talk about? Luke 9:31. Luke gives us a little insight here. It says, “Moses and Elijah appeared in glory and spoke of His decease which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” Would you like to have had a video, or at least an audio, cassette of a conversation between Jesus and Moses and Elijah? Who would like to… Who would order that if it was in a catalog? Get it online from Amazon, right? The audio tape of the dialog between Jesus and Moses and Elijah. What do they talk about? It tells us. “They spoke of His decease.” Now the word is “death” that He would accomplish in Jerusalem.

Think about this. What right did Elijah have to be in Heaven? Was he in Heaven because he was a good prophet? What right did Michael have to resurrect Moses? Because of his good works? The devil disputed with Jude…ah, in the book of Jude, the devil disputes with Michael and says, “You can’t take him, he’s sinned. He lost his temper, he’s mine.” And you know, Michael said, “No, the Lord rebuke thee. Because of the blood of the Lamb, because of the Messiah’s sacrifice, he can come with Me.”

So, can you imagine being Moses and Elijah, talking to Jesus, how motivated would you be for Jesus to follow through with His sacrifice? If Jesus doesn’t follow through, you’ve got to go back to the lake of fire. You’ve got to return to earth. You see what I’m saying? Their only right to be there was Christ’s victory over the devil. So, I’m not making it sound like, I hope I’m not making it sound like, the only reason they’re talking to Him is to say, “Lord, make sure you go through with this or we can’t stay.” You understand? But that’s something you should consider. Their only right to be there is that He would accomplish His death in Jerusalem.

But beyond that, I think they were there to encourage Him. They had selfless love. Think about the selfless love of Moses and Elijah. Can you remember in the Bible where Moses says to the Lord, “Lord, don’t destroy Your people. Take my name out of your Book. But what’s going to happen to Your name?” Moses was willing to be eternally lost, rather than God’s name.

Look at Elijah, going up against Ahab and Jezebel and 850 false prophets. Because he was concerned about God’s glory. Did anybody ever put their life on the line more than Elijah? Talk about the risks he took.

And so, they were very selfless in their love for God and His glory. They had a right to be there encouraging Jesus. Have you considered, right now as I talk about this subject, Moses and Elijah could be listening? Is that true? That always makes me feel good to think about. And so, they’re talking about, and encouraging Jesus about, His sacrifice that He’s going to accomplish. And I don’t know what they said, but I would have like to have heard it. All I know is what they talked about.

Now, Peter says something. He sees Moses, and he sees Elijah, and he sees the glory, and he feels the awe and the splendor of God’s presence. And Peter, who is always the first one to speak, and sometimes doesn’t know what he’s saying, and it even says in the story he was scared, he didn’t know what to say. Peter, the more frightened he became the faster he talked. And, you ever met someone like that? It’s their defense mechanism. They’ve just got to say something.

So Peter’s talking. He says, “Lord, it’s good for us to be here always.” Now, that’s not what it says in the Bible, but that’s what the Greek says. What Peter said was, “Lord, it’s good that we should be here.” And the word is, “…it’s good that we should stay here.” Why else do you think he said, “Let’s make three tabernacles?” A tabernacle was a temporary dwelling. Maybe there were some trees on top of the mountain. They were going to make a booth. Can you imagine making a booth? I mean, here Moses is coming from golden streets. He’s coming from the mansion that’s been prepared. And he comes back to earth and Peter says, “I’m going to make you a leaf hut. Aren’t you excited?” He didn’t know what he was saying.

But you know what was implied there is, “Let’s stay on the mountain with them. It’s good for us to remain here, but we don’t want You to dwell in the elements. We’ll make three, you’ll each have your own. One for you, Jesus. One for Moses. One for Elijah. We’re just going to stay on the mountain with You.” But that wasn’t God’s plan. Now, if you were having that experience, would you like to stay? Would you like to abide in that kind of glory, in the presence of God? “Let’s be here always.”

Now, probably the most important thing we can learn from this experience on the Glorious Mount… This was a miniature picture of the second coming. It gives us a number of insights.

First of all, you remember what Jesus said six days before they went up the mountain? “There are some of you standing here who will not taste of death till you see the kingdom of God come with power. You’re going to see the kingdom of God come.” He didn’t mean that they would be alive when it happened. He said, “You’ll see it. I’m going to give you a little peek. I’m going to give you some supernatural binoculars. And you’re going to get a little vision of what it’s going to be like when the kingdom of God comes.”

This experience is a microcosm of the second coming. Look at some of the evidence that you find here.

First of all, after Christ makes that statement, they go up. Up with Jesus. Up a mountain.

Secondly, Moses is there, who had been resurrected. Moses is a symbol of that large class of people who die and are resurrected when the Lord descends. “The dead in Christ will rise.” Moses died, but he was resurrected.

Elijah’s there. He represents the other class of people. There are only two classes. The ones who are translated. “Those who are alive and remain when Jesus comes are caught up to meet the Lord in the air.” As Elijah was caught up in that fiery chariot.

They’re wearing white garments. What will the people in Heaven be wearing? The white garments. The clouds of glory are there. The Father speaks.

And you know what else is very important about this? It happened unexpectedly. It was very dark. It was very quiet. They were sleeping. And all of a sudden, BANG! Glory of the second coming. It had all the components of the second coming. Christ coming in glory, the clouds, the Father’s presence, Moses and Elijah. It was a miniature picture of what the second coming was going to be like.

Now, you’ve heard me talk about this, but it struck me with real power one day. When it happened—after six days. You know, the Bible says, Christ makes His utterance where He says, “You’re not going to taste of death till you see the kingdom of God come with power,” after He makes this statement, the Bible says, after six days.

Now, I need to be honest with you. It says in Matthew and Mark, “…after six days.” In Luke it says, “…after about eight days.” Now that would throw you. And some people say, “Ah-ha. The Bible contradicts itself.” But, you need to keep in mind Matthew and Mark were Jews. Luke was a Greek. They measured time differently. Luke included the day that Jesus said that. And beyond that, Luke says, “about.” What does the word about mean? If I say, “I’m about 45.” Does that mean today’s my birthday? No, it means in the vicinity.

Beyond that, it says when they went down “…the next day.” So Luke, when he tells this story, he’s encompassing the whole picture. The day that Christ made the prophecy, the day they went back down the mountain, and he says “about.” So don’t let that bother you. In Matthew and Mark, He doesn’t say “about,” he says, ‘after six days.”

After He makes this promise, six days later, He takes them up. Have you read in the Bible where it says, 2 Peter 3, “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that one day with the Lord is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day.” Christ has told us He’s going to come again.

You’ve got six thousand years in the plan of salvation. The first two thousand years God preaches the message of salvation through the patriarchs. Adam, Methuselah, Enoch, Noah. Then you come to Abraham. If the date for creation is about 4,004 B.C., that’s the approximate date, that’s about the date, two thousand years after that, 2,004 B.C., Abraham is born.

For the next two thousand years, God preaches the Gospel through Jews, the Hebrews. And they all keep coming, hoping the Messiah will come through their descendants.

And two thousand years later, 4 B.C., Jesus is born. For the last two thousand years, God preaches the Gospel through spiritual Israel. The Church.

You’ve got two thousand, two thousand, two thousand. That adds up to how much? Six thousand. A day with the Lord is like a thousand years. Somewhere there’s got to be a seventh thousand. The Bible says that the righteous will live and reign with the Lord for how long? For one thousand years. And after that He creates a new Heaven, a new earth, the New Jerusalem comes down and we enter eternity. So, the whole plan of salvation is encompassed in a seven thousand year block. I believe it’s going to happen that way.

It ought to give you goose bumps to consider that we are not only nearing the six thousand year mark, it looks like we’ve passed it! Which means we’re in overtime right now. But that shouldn’t surprise you. The Bible says the Lord is longsuffering to us, not willing that any should perish. God is going to do as much as He can. But especially with what you see happening in the news today, you ought to tremble when you think that we are living in the sixth day, in the sunset of the sixth day. The sun is going down. That millennial Sabbath will soon begin.

But that’s not the only story. This story of the transfiguration got me looking at other stories in the Bible where it talks about this six day period.

Psalm 90:4, “A thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it has passed.”

You can read also in Job 5:19, “He will deliver you in six troubles, yes in seven no evil will touch you.”

How long did Athaliah reign over the land before Josiah was coronated? Six years. At the end of six years he came out of the temple, on the Sabbath it says, as the Sabbath began. They blew the trumpets, she was slain, he is crowned. Another little allegory, I think. It happens after the period of six.

Six years a Hebrew servant could serve under his master. After six years he was to go free. That’s the jubilee.

The Bible tells us six years the Jew would sow the fields, the seventh year it would be desolate. This earth is going to be desolate. No Gospel seed-sowing happening when Jesus comes. For six thousand years Jesus has been sowing the seed. He says, “I am the Sower. The Gospel is the seed.” He’s coming in Revelation with a sickle to harvest.

Moses stayed at the base of Mount… How long was Moses at the base of Mount Sinai? Come on. You know that. It’s easy. Forty days and forty days. It’s like the flood, it’s easy to remember. But, people forget there’s a time period before that. It says in Exodus 24, “For six days he stayed at the base of the mountain.” After six days, God called him up the mountain. Just like it happened in the story with Jesus. After six days, they went up the mountain. And Moses met Him on the mountain.

The Bible just fits together perfectly, friends. It’s like a puzzle, every piece. But, I think it’s significant that it says, “after six days.” That tells me that if this is a miniature picture of the second coming, that we are very near the return of the Lord. Can you say Amen?

I also want to talk about the garments of Christ. It says in Mark 9, “His clothing became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them.” Now, if you lived back in the days of Mark, what terms could you use, beyond what he used, to explain they were really white. Shining. Fresh snow. No soap on earth. Glowing. Like the sun.

Now, that robe that Jesus wore is a symbol of His purity. That’s what Christ wears in Heaven. He’s got this pure garment. And, you know what? That’s what He’s offering you and me. These pure, white robes.

Then you hear the voice of the Father. What does God say during this experience? Mark 9:7, “And a cloud came and overshadowed them.” Will there be clouds when Jesus comes? Is Christ coming in the clouds? Was there a cloud on Mount Sinai when the Lord descended, to veil the glory of God? And here there’s another cloud on this mountain. And this voice comes out of the cloud saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him.”

Now, this is also, I think, evidence for the triune God. Here you’ve got God the Father speaking… Well, let me ask you. If Jesus is God the Son and He’s on earth and they’re hearing a voice out of the cloud that says, “This is My Son,” who’s in the cloud? He never says, “Hi, this is God the Father. I want you to respect My Son.” But we understand by the context who is in the cloud. God the Father comes to this event.

How important is this event for you and me to understand? It’s recorded in Matthew and Mark and Luke. God wants us to consider this. How many of you would like to have had that experience that Peter, James, and John had?

And what does God the Father say? There’s really only one injunction. First He identifies Christ. “This is My beloved Son. Don’t look for another one. Anyone who came before Him is a fraud and a counterfeit. This is the One.” Moses says, “This is the One.” Elijah says, “This is the One.” The Word says, “This is the One.” God Almighty says, “This is the One.”

And then after He identifies Him, He says something very simple. “Hear Him.” Is that a complete sentence? You know what the word hear means? It doesn’t mean turn up your hearing aid, so that like, you know, hearing something. It means listen to Him. Jesus says, “He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the church.” Hear Him. Listen to Him. God the Father is commanding you and me to listen to Jesus. In person He came down to earth to tell us, “He’s the One. Listen to Him.”

There’s going to be a lot of counterfeits out there. There will be a lot of frauds. A lot of imposters. A lot of cult leaders. A lot who are impersonating Christ and even trying to personate Christ. There’s a difference. And God the Father says about Jesus in the Bible, “Hear Him.” That’s a very powerful thing for us to contemplate.

And then Mark 9:8, “Suddenly.” It all started suddenly, and it ends suddenly. Any of you remember my sermon I preached on “suddenly?” Oh, good. I’m glad some of you remember. Suddenly it all ends. “And when they looked around, they saw no one anymore but only Jesus.”

Now, I want you to remember a few phrases in this story. First of all, don’t forget white robes. Don’t forget, “Hear Him.” And don’t forget, “only Jesus.” After Moses and Elijah and the Father and the cloud, after that’s all gone, and the glory evaporates, and it’s once again dark on the mountain, and their eyes are becoming adjusted to the darkness, what’s left? Everything else is gone. All they can see is Jesus.

You know, I think God is saying to you and me… It’s easy for us to have our vision obscured with the kaleidoscope of images that you see in the Bible. It’s easy for us to have our minds clouded with this collage of different images that you and I see in life. But, after the glory fades, after the friends are gone at the base of the mountain, finally, the only thing left that really matters for us to consider is what? Only hear Jesus, only see Jesus. He was the only one still with them. Everyone else might forsake you. But He says, “I will be with you till the end.”

I like that phrase, “only Jesus.” You know, there’s an old song I like to sing when nobody’s listening. It’s called Only Jesus. Only Jesus can satisfy your soul. Only Jesus. He was the only one left after this. What is it the Lord wants us to know from this story? On the way down the mountain, Christ said, Mark 9:9, “Now as they came down the mountain…”

Can you imagine the look on the disciples faces after this experience? Have you ever had one of these just life-changing experiences? And you’re in shock. I mean, they’re more in shock now than when He spoke peace to the storm and the waves flattened out. You remember when that happened. The Bible says they were “exceedingly afraid.” After Christ calmed the stormy sea, they were more afraid after than during the storm. They were exceedingly afraid. They said, “Who and what manner of Man is this that even the wind and the waves obey Him?” If they had any doubts then about who this was, do they have any doubts now?

They’re coming down the mountain. They are speechless. They’re in awe. I think they’re glowing a little bit like Moses when he came down the mountain. Remember, he spoke with the Father and he had to veil his face cause he was just…he had this aura of light. And they’re all walking down the mountain. And they’re looking at each other saying, “Am I glowing? You’re glowing.” And they’ve all got that look on their face. And they’re wondering what this is all about. What does this mean? And you know what Jesus says to them? “As they came down from the mountain.”

Wouldn’t you like to just stay on the mountain? Sometimes you’ve got to come down. “As they came down from the mountain He commanded them that they should tell no one of the things they had seen.” Oh, wouldn’t that have been hard? Can you imagine that? You have just seen a glimpse of Heaven. You’ve just seen Moses. You’ve seen Elijah. You’ve heard the voice of God speaking for Himself. And then Jesus says, “Don’t tell anybody about this.” Can you imagine as they went down among the other apostles there at the base of the mountain, they’re going “Mm-mm….mm-mm.” And they said, “So what happened up there?” “Mm-mm…mm-mm.”

I don’t know if I could have done it. It would have been really hard. You know what I would have had to do? I would have had frequent, private conversations with James and John and Peter. You know, if I was one of the three… “Come on guys, let’s talk about this.” You just have to heal from the experience. What’s the counseling terms they use for something like that? You have to debrief. You have to process. You’d have to talk to somebody, and you can’t tell anyone else.

So they probably spent a lot of time, whenever Peter, James, and John were among themselves they said, “Man, can you believe that? We saw Moses and Elijah. Can you believe that? We heard God’s voice. We saw Jesus divine.” And then they’d go among the others and they’d say, “Oh no, nothing happened.” I don’t think they lied, but they couldn’t divulge what had happened up there.

You know why Jesus said that? He was telling them to store this experience in reserve for when they would really need it. When Christ died, Peter, James, and John, who had chosen to sort of be the leaders of the leaders, they were to come forward and say, “Don’t be discouraged. Let us tell you about what we saw, what we heard.”

But you know what? They forgot. There’s no record in the Bible that, during the time of their great discouragement, they remembered this experience. What a tragedy, that they forgot. They didn’t completely forget. But they forgot when they really needed it.

You know what that tells me? God has given you mountain top experiences, hasn’t He? Has God answered prayers for you and worked miracles for you where, right when it’s happening you’re going, “Wow, praise the Lord. This is wonderful.” But then you end up in the valley. And the devil crowds around. And those demons darken the light of God with their wings. And you can’t remember what happened on the mountain. It all just goes away. You forget about it. And then later you say, “Why did I forget? Why couldn’t I remember?”

The children of Israel could not remember—a few days after God spoke to them the Ten Commandments, they’re making a golden calf. They had just said, “Oh the Lord has said we will do…” They had just heard the voice of God, they felt the ground shake, they saw the fire on the mountain. God said, “Don’t make any graven images.” And a few days later, they forget.

The devil is a master at causing amnesia. Are you listening? If you give the devil five minutes of your attention, he can make you forget a whole lifetime of miracles. If you entertain his suggestions, if you embrace his discouragement and his doubts, all those mountaintop experiences can be gone just when you need them the most. They forgot what happened on the mountain.

Now, I want you to think about mountains for a minute. First of all, it’s significant to consider that God chose Moses. Did God speak to Moses on a mountaintop? Mount Sinai. The mountain had the fire of God on top of it the Bible declares. Smoke and fire and thunder.

Elijah was on a mountain. What was it called? Mount Carmel. Did fire come down on that mountain? Those are symbols of God’s Spirit coming down on the mountain.

God wants to fill you with His Spirit, and it often happens on the mountain. God makes His promises on the mountain. Wasn’t it on the mountains of Ararat that God made His covenant with Noah? Wasn’t it on Mount Moriah that God made His covenant with Abraham? You can go through the Bible. Even on Mount Gerizim, the whole nation got on top of a mountain and God made His covenant with them that this would be their land.

Through the Bible you’ve got God’s people on top of the mountains. And He speaks to them on the mountains. On Mount Calvary God made a covenant. Which is just on the slopes, you might say, of Mount Moriah, which is significant. There are three crosses up there. You know, I think it’s interesting. The same way you’ve got Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. When Christ died on the mountain, you’ve got two thieves. One had eternal life, one did not have eternal life. And Christ was in the middle, representing all the classes of man. Moses died, but was raised. Elijah did not die, you’ve got sort of a similar pattern there. But if you would like to climb the Mount of Transfiguration, you need to climb Mount Calvary.

Now, I think it’s significant for you to know that when Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane, it tells us in the Gospel of Mark, that He not only prayed, He picked three people to go pray with Him. Guess who they were? Peter, James, and John. Guess what they did? They went to sleep. The same way those same three characters went to sleep, the same way the ten virgins all sleep. It seems like at the critical moments in history, God’s people go to sleep. And then when they should have been kneeling with Him in the garden, remembering what happened on the mount, they fell asleep. And because they were sleeping instead of praying, they lost their experience. They forgot about the mountaintop. And they were not prepared to follow Jesus up Mount Calvary. Even after they’d been up the Mount of Transfiguration, the Glorious Mount.

That haunted them, I think, for the rest of their lives. That they had missed that opportunity. Christ had given them ammunition to strengthen them through one of the greatest trials they would ever go through. And they missed it, because they forgot about the glory on the mount. Don’t forget your glorious experience on the mount.

But, even more important than that, the central message in this study would be, the witness of Moses and Elijah. The Word of God. The two-edged sword. It will prepare you more than anything.

Now, there’s an amazing passage in the Bible, 2 Peter 1:17. Peter refers back to this experience. It’s the only time that Peter, James, or John ever refer to it. Of course, Peter had good reason. He knew how he was going to die. 2 Peter 1:17-18, “For He (Jesus) 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 which came from Heaven we heard when we were with Him on the holy mount.”

Now after Peter makes that statement, you know what he says? He says, “We have a more excellent, a more sure word of prophecy that we do well to take heed to.” If you had had the experience of Peter, James, and John on top of this mountain with Jesus, would anything have a greater influence on your life? Would that vision of Moses, Elijah, the glorious cloud, the voice of the Father be burned into the photographic plates of your memory?

You know what Peter says? “That’s a great experience that we had, but there’s something more important.” What does he talk about? The testimony of the Word. “We have a more sure word of prophecy that we do well to take heed like a light that grows brighter and brighter until the day dawn.”

Peter says, “That experience was great. We had a vision. We saw Heaven. We saw Christ glorified. We saw the kingdom of God come with power. We had this vision. But we’ve got something worth more.” What is it? It’s in your hands today. Most of you brought it to church. It’s the Bible. Think about that. Christ is telling us that this is more dependable than a vision that you might have.

Would you like a mountaintop experience? This is it. And if you would like to follow Jesus on top of the Mount of Transfiguration, we need to be willing to take up our crosses and follow Him up Mount Calvary, too. Amen?

But, nothing is more important than the testimony of Moses and Elijah, the double-edged sword, the two witnesses, the Law and the Prophets, the commandments of God, the testimony of Jesus, the New and the Old Testament. This is the most precious thing that God has committed to mortals. This is Jesus. He is the Word become flesh.

And if this morning you would like to have that experience, and you would like to embrace the testimony of Moses of Elijah, then why don’t you stand with me. We’re going to sing a familiar song. “Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life.” 286 in your Bible… In your hymnals, I’m sorry. And let’s sing with energy and enthusiasm this morning. Amen? About the witness that God has given us.

[Singing.]

Lord, we can just see that You’re speaking to us here. You’re telling us that Jesus is the One. Only Jesus ever. You’re telling us, Lord, that we can wear those white robes. You’re telling us to listen to Your Son. You’re telling us that the testimony of the Law and the Prophets, Moses and Elijah, all points to Christ as the fulfillment, the Desire of Ages, the volume of the Book, all points to Him. Lord, how can we miss this message? You’ve told us that soon You’re coming back. You’ve given us a picture of the second coming. You’ve told us that You’re coming in the near future, Lord. And I pray that we’ll not become indifferent. Help us, Lord, to share, to be able to cash in and to participate in the experience of Peter, James, and John on that mountain. And Lord, through this mountaintop experience I pray that we’ll be fortified for the times when we’re tempted by the devil to doubt, when we question, “Was Jesus the One?” Lord, I pray that You will bless each person here. I know that there are a variety of needs. Help us to know that sometimes when the glory disappears, Jesus is still there, cause He’s promised to be with us always, even to the end of the age. And we thank You for this promise. We ask these favors in His lovely Name. Amen.

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Amazing Adventure-Journey Through the Stars by Doug Batchelor

Amazing Adventure-Journey Through the Stars by Doug Batchelor
God's Promises




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