Luke 9:30 ‘There talked with him two men, who were Moses and Elijah.’
‘There talked with him two men, who were Moses and Elijah.’
Moses and Elijah were attendants at the transfiguration of our Lord on the mount along with the apostles, Peter, James, and John. Many commentators point out to their readers that the likely purpose of this event was to foreshadow the exaltation of Jesus that would result from His resurrection to His second coming; that it also, through the encouraging words of the Father to Him, was a means of preparation for the battle that He was facing as He made His way to Golgotha. It would remind Him of the glory that was to follow upon His suffering. At the same time, it surely served the purpose of confirming the faith of the disciples. It was a marvelous event among many marvelous events in the course of our Savior’s time on earth. Additionally, it provided for a testimony to the church and others from these primary witnesses. This is borne out in the record of Peter’s later testimony:
For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there was borne such a voice to him by the Majestic Glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: and this voice we ourselves heard borne out of heaven when we were with him in the holy mount.—2 Peter 1:17-18
These are some of the blessings granted to our Lord and to His Church coming from this stupendous manifestation. But none of these things answer the question as to what was the manifestation itself? What actually happened? What is transfiguration? The word in the Greek, metamorphose is that from which is derived our English word, metamorphosis. So then, what exactly is metamorphosis? An internet answer alleged to be from Merriman-Webster.com but must be someone’s idea of humor is:
“This metamorphosis is what would happen if a word cloud sourced from a Trump rally were used in a giant game of telephone—but one in which the gibberish end result were then broadcast as news to hundreds of millions of recipients.” A better answer would be simply; ‘A change in the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one, by natural or supernatural means.’ The prominent illustration is, of course, the transition of caterpillar into butterfly.’
“It would seem that the transfiguration and the arrival of the two visitors from heaven occurred while the disciples were wrapped in deep slumber. At least, it was not until they had suddenly become wide awake that they clearly saw Jesus in all his glory. They also recognized Moses and Elijah, who were standing near him.
How did the disciples know that the two from the other world who suddenly appeared upon the scene were Moses and Elijah? Did these visitors introduce them-selves? Did the disciples know this by intuition? Did they gather this information from the words spoken by each—Moses, Elijah—in his conversation with Jesus? Had the looks or personal appearance of the two heavenly visitors been transmitted to the disciples by tradition, whether oral or written, so that for this reason it was easy to recognize them and tell them apart? Had the identification been divinely revealed to them? Or, last, but the least fanciful, was Moses carrying in his hand a copy of the law, and did Elijah descend from heaven to the mount in his fiery chariot? All we know, and need to know, is that in a manner not revealed to us the three disciples recognized the two visitors.”—William Hendriksen.
This is the question: how did the disciples know that the two from the other world who suddenly appeared upon the scene were Moses and Elijah? And the question that evolves from it is, in the language of the title from a tract by J.C. Ryle, and written toward the close of the nineteenth century, ‘Shall We Know One Another in Heaven?’ To make use of the several questions suggested above by Hendriksen, we may pose them in the same way to this related inquiry. With respect toward the multitudes of men and women we shall meet when we arrive in heaven, will we recognize them, and how will we be able to do so? Will they introduce themselves to us? Will we know them by some intuition? Will we recognize them by the words which they speak? Regarding fellow believers that died decades before we were even born; will we know them from old photographs, from traditions about them that have been handed down? What about those whose time on earth preceded photography or even firsthand portraiture? How shall we recognize Moses and Elijah? Will it be divinely revealed to us? Or as Hendriksen inquires, will Moses have tablets of stone in his hands? Will Elijah be seen standing alongside his chariot of fire? How will we know one another in Heaven?
Paul has provided, perhaps, the best answer to this question before us. In his first epistle to the church at Corinth, the apostle declared these now familiar words of truth and hope when he taught his readers and hearers that:
For now we see in a mirror, darkly [Margin: Gr. in a riddle]; butthen face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was I was fully known.—1 Corinthians 13:12.
Darkly; as in a riddle. It is a mystery; a great mystery. There are many things that remain mysteries to our finite minds. God has chosen not to reveal certain things to us. And He is All-Wise. Christ is Himself spoken of as the mystery of godliness. May we be thankfully content with what God has been pleased to reveal.
David Farmer, elder
Fellowship Bible Church
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