10 Minute Read + Scripture readings
Today’s Bible Reading:
Today’s Bible Verse(s):
Mark 9:2–4 (CSB): “After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain by themselves to be alone. He was transfigured in front of them, and his clothes became dazzling—extremely white as no launderer on earth could whiten them. Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus.”
Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):
There are at least two directions that I could take our Verses for Today.
One direction would be to talk about the transfiguration of Jesus – when His inner glory radiated out of His body in a very visible way. Some would call it the Shekinah Glory that Moses desired to see in Exodus 33:18. (Moses was able to see God’s glory twice: 1) in Exodus 34 and then 2) in our Verses for Today, not including the glory He has been enjoying in Heaven!).
But, I want to take this post in another direction. I want to put the spotlight on the two men that are mentioned in this special event – Moses and Elijah.
Let’s begin with a question: “When did the Old Testament era end and the New Testament era begin?”
The most natural answer would be: “After Malachi and at the arrival of Jesus.”
That answer would be incorrect. The truth is that the overwhelming majority of what is written about in the four Gospels occurred during the Old Testament era.
In fact, if we listen to Jesus’ words, He made it clear during His early ministry that the demands of the Old Testament had not yet been fulfilled. The Old Testament had not yet been completed.
Matthew 5:17-18 (CSB): “Don’t think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass away from the law until all things are accomplished.”
In order for God to initiate the New Covenant, the terms of the Old Testament had to be fulfilled. And not a single person in the Old Testament had ever been able to live up to the Law. Not a single person who has ever walked planet earth has ever lived a life in which the Law was perfectly fulfilled…
… until Jesus came.
But, it wasn’t just Jesus’ arrival that ended (fulfilled) the Old Testament covenant. It was Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection that fulfilled it. During His 33 years here on earth, Jesus lived out the demands of the Old Testament Law perfectly. He was the only Man to ever walk the earth who completely obeyed every single Old Testament Law that was relevant to His experience. And then He died. And then He rose again.
Why am I making a big deal about this?
Because forgiven people don’t go to Heaven, righteous people do. Just because we are forgiven of our sins when we trust in Jesus doesn’t make us fit for Heaven. We also have to be completely righteous – we have to have complied with every single relevant Law in the Old Testament. And none of us can ever do that. It’s impossible!
So, as Jesus lived His life in the Old Testament era, He fulfilled the demands of the Law … on our behalf.
Romans 8:3-4 (CSB): “What the law could not do since it was weakened by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh as a sin offering, in order that the law’s requirement would be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
It’s the Divine Swap! Everyone who looks to Jesus for salvation experiences two major things: 1) Jesus takes their sins with its guilt, and 2) Jesus credits them with His righteousness.
Restated, when anyone looks to Jesus and His work on the cross and trusts in Him, that person is: 1) forgiven, and 2) declared righteous. They are forgiven of every single sin they have ever committed or ever will commit, and they are also declared to be righteous, having fulfilled all of the demands of the Law.
Now let’s get back to our Verses for Today. What’s up with Moses and Elijah? What is the significance of their presence?
Well, in the Old Testament, in order for something to be taken seriously in a legal proceeding, there had to be 2 or 3 witnesses. Deuteronomy 17:6 and 19:15 makes it clear that the guilty could only be put to death on the bases of 2 or 3 witnesses. Jesus, who would be put to death as He wore the sin and guilt of every single person who would trust in Him for eternal life, would need to be “inspected” by 2 or 3 witnesses.
Who were the witnesses? Moses, who represented the Law, and Elijah, who represented the prophets. In fact, this is how the Old Testament was referred to.
Matthew 22:40 (CSB): “All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
Luke 24:27 (CSB): “Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures.”
Moses and Elijah were the 2 Old Testament witnesses, who represented the Old Testament. They showed up to “inspect” Jesus. Just as the Old Testament Law demanded that the animal to be sacrificed needed to be without blemish, Moses and Elijah showed up to see Jesus transfigured (Matthew 17) which demonstrated His purity. They, as Old Testament witnesses, approved of Jesus as the Lamb that would be sacrificed for the sins of the world.
Now, let me share something that is worth pondering. What I’m about to share isn’t something I hold passionately or with conviction. It’s just something that has peaked my interest.
It would seem that since the two Old Testament prophets showed up to inspect Jesus before He was sacrificed for the sins of the world, that they would also show up to witnesses His victory over sin and the grave. It would seem that they would show up to testify that His work was completed, the Old Testament Laws had been fulfilled, and a New Covenant had been initiated.
When we look at the Gospels, specifically at the part of the story where the disciples discovered that the tomb was empty, we realize that the four Gospel writers weren’t in collaboration. They were writing the story, truthfully, from their own perspective as the Holy Spirit guided them. That being the case, listen to who the Gospel writers say was at the empty tomb:
- an angel of the Lord (Matthew 28:1-2)
- a young man (Mark 16:5)
- two men (Luke 24:4)
- two angels (John 20:1-2,12)
These accounts are not in opposition to each other. If you and some other people witnessed a vehicle accident and all of you were called to give your account, you would each have a slightly different take. You are recounting the same story but you each saw it a little differently because you focused on different details.
So, notice Luke’s account. He says that there were two men in bright apparel.
Luke 24:4-8 (CSB): “While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men stood by them in dazzling clothes. So the women were terrified and bowed down to the ground. ‘Why are you looking for the living among the dead?’ asked the men. ‘He is not here, but he has risen! Remember how he spoke to you when he was still in Galilee, saying, “It is necessary that the Son of Man be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and rise on the third day” And they remembered his words.’”
Could it be that these two men were Moses and Elijah? Could it be that they showed up to witness the end of the Old Testament era and the beginning of the New Testament. I think it is at last plausible.
I even wonder if the two, unnamed witnesses mentioned in Revelation 11 might be these same two men. The Old Testament has been long gone, but they come to demonstrate the severity of God’s wrath against a people who have not embraced the New Covenant.
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Lord Jesus, the Bible is truly the most amazing book that has ever been written. In it, I can spend the rest of my life looking for truths and connections between many of those truths and never discover at all. Whether I’m reading about Moses and Elijah, or studying about any number of the other truths found on the pages of Scripture, help me to never lose my fascination at the book you have written and given to me. Amen.