Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.
Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah”–not realizing what he was saying. While he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.Luke 9:28-36
Remember the options available to us of what Peter meant:
- He could have meant let’s build three booths to preserve this moment and hold the Glory that is present.
- He could have meant let’s build three booths to house the Presence of each of you three – Jesus, Moses and Elijah.
- He could have meant let’s build three booths to encourage You three to hang around until Tabernacles.
- He could have meant let’s build three booths so we wont lose this moment. I don’t want the Glory to disappear.
On reflecting on this some more I wonder whether there is another alternative not stated yesterday.
Is Peter’s comment an attempt to get Jesus, Moses and Elijah to hang around? I wonder whether Peter is making a vain attempt to thwart Jesus “departure”. He has already said in the context of his statement of who Christ is at Caesarea Phillipi, “Forbid it Lord that should happen to you.”
Why did Peter say these things?
It is my hunch that he was focused on preserving the Glory moment so he blurts out, “Let’s build booths for the three of you.” As I explained yesterday, while Moses and Elijah were connected to God’s glory, it was only as recipients. They didn’t generate Glory. The Glory is from God, not Moses or Elijah. Somehow Peter loses the understanding of that fact and links Moses and Elijah to the Glory in a wrong way. So much so that Luke felt compelled to add a note of correction.
The same is true of the cloud. The cloud of God is something that appears frequently in Moses ministry. It was used to guide him, speak to him, it symbolized God’s presence to Moses. God frequently speaks to Moses in a cloud. Elijah has one encounter with a cloud in 1 Kings 18:44. But in this passage, much like the Glory, both Moses and Elijah are associated with the cloud. At the precise moment Peter mentioned Jesus, Moses and Elijah in the same breath, the cloud appears.
“While he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!”Luke 9:34-35
God uses the cloud to speak again much like He did in times of old to Moses and Elijah. Note it happens with Peter’s comment. The cloud, symbolizing the presence of God comes down on them suddenly. Down on whom?
Some think the cloud overshadows all six: Jesus, Moses, Elijah, Peter, James and John. Others think the cloud overshadowed Jesus Moses and Elijah. Others think the cloud overshadowed Moses and Elijah only. I think it is a small matter but again my hunch is “all six”. I think the disciples were involved in this so that God can speak a word of correction to what Peter has just proclaimed. The same statement is made as was made at Jesus’ baptism. “This is by [beloved] Son, My Chosen One, listen to Him.” The chosen is perfect tense, was chosen and still is chosen. Nothing has changed. He is still appointed to save His people from their sins. His name is still Jesus the Redeemer, the Saviour.
Listen to Him, this is in the imperative voice. Listen to Him on-goingly. Not just now. The Him [autou] is placed in the emphatic position in the sentence. I.e. the Words of Jesus are to take precedence over Moses and Elijah. In past times Israel was told “Him you shall heed”. (Deut 18:15) Not now with Moses and Elijah together with Jesus. God says the Words of Jesus will take precedence over Moses and Elijah. No Peter, you don’t need to build booths for Moses and Elijah; just listen to my Son. After the Voice had spoken and assumedly the cloud had lifted, Jesus was found alone. No Peter, Moses and Elijah won’t be staying. You don’t need them to see My Glory. You don’t need them to sense My Presence, you don’t need them to hear My Voice. You have My Son, you need no other.
Yesterday I made the statement in the quotes section: “Most people don’t get beyond their first revelation. They enshrine it, build a fence around it and stay put.”
I think Peter was trapped in that same mentality. He had experienced this Glory moment and he wanted it to continue. For whatever reason of those we have discussed he wanted it to continue. He wanted to prolong the moment. So he blurts out, in typical Peter fashion, let’s camp here on this mountain. Let’s keep the glory going. Most of us would do the same. When “that amazing conference” is over, when the retreat filled with manifestations of the Holy Spirit has finished, we want to re-live it. We want to enshrine the moment, build a fence around it, stay there at that place and drink in the moment some more. We want to build “tabernacle” shrines, memorial stones to the event. But God doesn’t ever work that way. Oh yes the moment was poignant. It was filled with the Holy Spirit. It was pregnant with meaning. The meaning and the outworking of that meaning is always in the moving on.
The next step that needs to be taken in God. That momentary moment of Glory is intended by God to lead you into a life spent in His glory. Remember the lesson of Paran – Bible Gems 9, 534, 535. Oh we might well be in Kadesh Barnea, that Holy Place. But in God that Holy Place is always in the midst of a testing place. We have to take the Glory moments and live them out in everyday life so we get it and we live it. Our Glory moments must become relevant to ordinary life and lived out, not preserved and enshrined in past experiences.
Experience the Glory by all means. Savour it and learn the most from it as much as you can. But be prepared to move down into the valley again taking the Glory with you. Learn the lesson of Moses. He didn’t have God Glory inside of him. The Glory on Moses was reflected glory. Glory received as result of beholding God’s After Glow. When Peter saw Moses it is almost as though he assumed glory was coming from Moses and Elijah as well as Jesus. No no! Wrong assumption. You won’t ever generate glory of your own. Your face will only shine as you behold Him and then dare to go down and share His glory with a desperate and dying world. You are like the moon reflecting the glory of the sun.
Have you got it? Don’t build altars or tabernacles or anything else. Just take the imparted glory of God and share it. That way you will be guaranteed to get some more. If you seek to preserve it and maintain it for your own personal “glory session” you will lose it. The journey from Sinai to Paran was to lead them from that momentary appearance (Presence) of God’s Glory to being endowed with Glory.
Is it making sense to you now?
Learn the lesson of J O Y – God’s order is always Jesus first; then Others and finally You. Go be a channel of blessing to someone today.Anon
Your greatest obstacle to personal growth isn’t ignorance; it’s the illusion of knowledge. It’s in believing you’ve ‘arrived.’Bob Gass
Stop rehearsing your beginnings and write the rest of your story.Ian Vail
Now let us live (up to) that which we have already attained. (IVV) (that’s not ISV that Ian Vail’s Version I.e. Live the revelation you have. )Philippians 3:16