Do you see now why one of the men on the mountain with Jesus was Moses?
But the question remains as to why was Elijah there? Many of you made me laugh through today when you reminded me I hadn’t told you why Elijah was there. It’s like you think I had forgotten Elijah. There is way too much to this story of the Transfiguration for me to comment on it one Gem. Actually all of the Bible is like that. There are layers of truth to all of it. Some of it is still waiting to be discovered. My Greek professor Basil Brown instilled that idea into us. Every word of Scripture is there for a purpose. As I am teaching people Deeper Bible, there are layers of truth to Word of God. God reveals His deeper truths to those who are willing to dig for them. Many times Jesus alludes to truth or connections between ideas without coming straight out and stating them clearly.
Many see that Elijah is also connected to the idea of glory but in a different way. Elijah and Moses share many things between them. Both fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. Both went up on Horeb to seek the Lord and had a encounter with God face to face. Both knew the glory of God first hand. Many feel Elijah was also there on the Mount of Transfiguration because of the Glory connection. Note that Luke says “And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, who, appearing in glory . . . ” The connection Luke makes is strongly connected to glory. The relative clause here is not a noun phrase in apposition, but rather is emphatic! It could be translated “and the two who were there with Him, were none other than Moses and Elijah,” the ones synonymous with glory.
For every Jewish man or woman familiar with the Torah, when the Glory of God is mentioned or in focus their minds immediately turn to Moses. He is the ultimate when it comes to the glory of God. Moses face shone with the glory of God. Is it coincidence do you think Moses is there on the mountain when Jesus is transfigured. The Bible makes it clear that the two are linked. I drew your attention to that yesterday. There is much more to say about this but this is supposed to be a Gem and not a treasure chest of precious jewels. This concept runs in many different directions. Learn to read the Bible in its entirety. It is after all one complete book with all parts unified. Despite the fact that Luke, a Gentile, is writing this story, it has been inspired by the One who knows the end from the beginning. The Alpha and the Omega. We would expect it therefore to be in sync with the rest of the book.
Notice that Moses asked for God to show him His glory. Exo 33:18: Moses responded, “Then show me Your glory, (or show me your glorious presence.)” Moses knew the importance of the presence of God going with them. But here Luke (and the other two) links glory with Elijah as well. He is not normally linked to glory. He is linked to power, the manifestation of the power of God. But Elijah learned all about the presence of God on Mt Horeb in the experience of the still small voice. I debated as to whether I need to digress and tell you the major message of 1 Kings 19 but have decided against it this time. I am focused on the transfiguration. For my Deeper Bible students notice the repetition in 1 Kings 19. It is important and holds the key to understanding the whole passage and the essence of the still small voice. What I will draw your attention to is yet another similarity between Moses and Elijah. This one is very important. Have you ever noticed that the experience of Elijah on Mount Horeb was the same as that of Moses? Both experience the wind, the earthquake and the fire. Ponder that one.
In 2 Kings 2:11 Elijah is snatched up to heaven in fire or a fiery chariot. Would there have been a glow surrounding him? Of course there would. Notice too that where Moses asks for glory, Elijah asks for fire. Much of Elijah’s ministry is characterized by fire. He is the fiery prophet. Constantly surrounded by the glow of fire. This is how God first manifested His glory to Moses. Moses asks for glory, Elijah asks for fire. Both are synonymous with the glory of God. Luke states it clearly too. Moses and Elijah appeared in glory on the Mount of Transfiguration. Do a search for the number of times Elijah is mentioned in the context of fire.
It is clear that biblically the comparison being made is glory. The Glory of God is connected with both men. This passage is all about the glory of God. I will introduce another link to glory and presence when we look at Peter’s response to all of this in a few days. But I think there is also another reason Elijah is there. We will follow that through in the next Gem.
In the meantime let me draw your attention to the location of the Transfiguration. There is much debate over where the Transfiguration took place. The standard options are Mount Tabor and Mount Hermon. Use the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia to check out each of these possibilities. In it you will find a discussion of why the site can’t be Tabor. Yes, it is close to all the places needed for the following journey. But the biggest objection is that is not remote enough and thus Jesus would not have found the solitude He sought to pray there. There was a village on the top of Mt Tabor. Others reject Mt Hermon because it is too far away from the action and the places mentioned and to get to it they would have had to cross the borders away from Palestine. So other mountains are suggested as possible sites.
A radical thought has occurred to me, could it have been Mt Carmel where the action took place? Mt Carmel and Mt Tabor are very close together if you look at an atlas. They are both central to all the places mentioned in the text both before and after the Transfiguration. Could it have been on Mt Carmel. If the location were on Mt Carmel, given the fact there is much conjecture as to exactly where this took place, then that would add significant meaning to the Elijah connection. Mt Carmel is the location of Eljiah’s challenge to the prophets of Ba’al. What if Carmel were the site and since there is so much conjecture about the location it could have been. But that too is conjecture. Enough said. I will keep digging on the location into the future. The significance to the Transfiguration and the meaning of the text and the connections would be huge.
Next Gem we will look at what they were discussing: His departure. What does that mean? Another hint for you to ponder.
The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire.Ferdinand Foch
God makes His ministers a flame of fire. Am I ignitable? God, deliver me from the dreaded asbestos of ‘other things.’Jim Elliot
The furnace of praise and the crucible applause (Pro 27:21). Are we being purified by fire, or enflamed with pride?Rick Warren
The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.Plutarch
You cannot burn-out if you’ve never been on fire! Burn with God’s passion!Rick Godwin