Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Just Another Prophet?

Leslie Basham: In the transfiguration, Jesus appeared with Moses and Elijah. But that doesn’t mean Jesus is just another prophet. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Jesus and Moses and Elijah are not equals . . . not even close. Jesus is the One and Only, the Incomparable Christ!

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, February 3, 2015.

Yesterday, Nancy began a three-part series called "On Another Mountain." She took us through the passage that tells of Jesus being glorified.

His clothes shone like lightning and the disciples were amazed. We’re about to hear part two of this message. We’ll start with a short review from where Nancy left off yesterday.

Nancy: This was the one time during Jesus’ earthly life that the fullness of the Godhead shone through the veil of His humanity. The disciples were given a glimpse of the glory that Jesus had had for all of eternity past, but they were also seeing the glory that would be His for all of eternity future.

In fact, in this moment, they were given a preview of His future return in power and in glory, a foretaste of the day when the full glory of Christ would be eternally unveiled, and His Messianic kingdom would be established on this earth, not in humiliation but in exaltation. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah on the throne, forever and ever . . .

Some thirty years later, Peter was still taken by this event in such a way that he referred to it in his second epistle, and he said, “We were eyewitnesses of His majesty, for we were with him on the holy mountain.”

Verse 3 of Matthew 17 says, "Behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him,” . . . glorified saints. Moses had been dead for about 1400 years or so. Elijah had been taken in a chariot of fire a little more than 900 years earlier, but we’re reminded that both were still alive, a reminder of the immortality of the soul and the conscious existence of saints after this life, including those of our loved ones who have died in Christ and are still very much alive today.

Moses and Elijah represented perhaps several things. Certainly the law and the prophets, representative of those who will be with Christ in His coming kingdom, Old Testament saints, New Testament saints, the disciples there with Moses and Elijah. Moses perhaps being a type of those who have died who will be raised when Christ returns, and Elijah a type of those who will be still alive and will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air.

Wouldn’t you love to have heard this conversation . . . Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus? What in the world did they talk about? Luke tells us one thing for sure. Luke’s gospel says, “They spoke of His departure, which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem" (9:31).

Some of your translations will say, “His decease.” His departure, His decease, that’s what they talked about. And some of you will know that the word used there is the word “exodus.” They spoke of His exodus, his exit, His death, His departing. In 2 Peter 1, Peter uses the same term to describe or speak of his own imminent death.

Now, think about that for a moment. Nearly 1500 years earlier, when the Children of Israel were slaves in Egypt in bondage to cruel taskmasters, God had raised up a deliver, Moses, who was now standing here talking to Jesus on this mountain.

He was a deliverer to lead the Children of Israel out of Egypt in what became known as the Exodus. Now, here is Moses, talking with Jesus, the great Deliverer, about His coming exodus . . . the death of Christ, followed by His resurrection and His ascension to heaven, that exodus through which God would bring deliverance, liberation, to Adam’s helpless race, who were slaves in bondage to sin.

I wonder what they said about Christ’s death, how they discussed it. Were they talking about how the Old Testament prophets for hundreds of years had anticipated His death? Were they talking about why He was going to die? Were they talking about what His death would accomplish for the redemption of the souls of men? All of this discussion points us to the cross, the watershed moment of all of human history, the humiliation and the suffering that would precede Christ’s ultimate exaltation and glory.

Now, just a parentheses here, if I might. I’ve got to refer to Luke’s account . . . the gospel of Luke chapter 9. He says, “Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him” (vv. 32–33).

So apparently, Moses and Elijah made their appearance while the disciples were dozing. These same disciples, you remember, also slept through Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane. How could they sleep then? And how in the world could they sleep at a time like this?

Maybe an even more important question for us is how can we sleep when Christ is displaying His glory around us? It makes me want to pray, “Lord, awaken us to see Your glory, to see the glory of Christ.” Luke 9 says, leading up to verse 4 in Matthew 17—it inserts this phrase—“as the men were departing from him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good that we are here’” (v. 33). Yes, that’s true.

"If you wish, I will make three tents [or shelters or tabernacles] here. One for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (v. 33 paraphrased). You’ve perhaps had the little discussion with friends as you were having dinner, “If you could invite three people who’ve ever lived as guests to dinner, who would you invite and why?”

Well, this had to be it for Peter. Jesus, Moses, and Elijah—who else would you add to that list? But now, two of the guests were leaving. Peter doesn’t want them to leave. He somehow knew this scene was hugely significant. He knew he was watching history in the making, and he wanted to capture the moment, to bottle the experience, to retain the glow.

But had Peter forgotten what Jesus had just told them about His death? Was he trying to keep that from happening? Was he trying to avoid the cross? It was good to be there, yes, but they were not intended to stay there yet. All of us have experienced moments of sweet fellowship and worship and blessing and an unusual sense of the presence of Christ. These disciples, with their spokesmen Peter, preferred to stay just where they were, in company with these three great men, rather than join the multitude down in the valley below, where there was misery and unbelief, a desperate father with a demonized son.

They would rather stay on the mountain than go on to Jerusalem, where Jesus was to suffer and die. Who wouldn’t? And is this the same thing that maybe motivated Peter to rebuke Jesus in the sixteenth chapter? to avoid suffering, to experience glory without suffering, exaltation without humiliation?

But can I say, there is no way. You can’t have one without the other. Luke 9 tells us that he didn’t know what he said. And so often, we don’t either. His timing was off. God’s plan was the cross, which, thank God, Jesus gladly chose to embrace, rather than to stay there on the mountain where He was.

Matthew 17:5,

[Peter] was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased . . ."

These are words that you remember the Father had spoken some three years earlier, at the baptism of Jesus, "My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him.” 

Now, you know that in the Old Testament, and we’ve heard this in several of the messages this weekend, that the cloud was a visible symbol of God’s presence. But have you noticed that when the Law was given at Mt. Sinai, it was a thick, dark cloud, but now we have a bright cloud . . . maybe just a hint that from this cloud and this moment forward is going to come the giving of mercy and grace.

The Father interrupts Peter while he was still speaking, and the Father is emphatic that Jesus is not one of three great men. Jesus and Moses and Elijah are not equals . . . not even close. Jesus is the One and Only, the Incomparable Christ. Moses and Elijah were servants in God’s house. But Jesus, who is the Son, the Beloved Son, with “Whom I am well pleased,” God says. God has always been pleased with His Son.

The Son had never for a moment—not for a moment—ever displeased the Father. God was pleased with the sacrifice Jesus was going to offer for the sins of mankind, the sacrifice of His life, an acceptable, pleasing sweet-smelling sacrifice and offering to God.

God says of His Son, “Listen to Him.” It’s better to hear Him than to see Moses and Elijah back from the dead. Yes, throughout the Old Testament, God had spoken through His prophets, but again and again the people had refused to listen to the prophets, they had refused to listen to the voice of God.

Now in these latter days, God had done what He promised to do in Deuteronomy 18, where Moses said, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you . . . it is to him you shall listen” (v. 15). God had sent His only begotten Son, and said, “Listen to Him. For when He speaks, God speaks."

It’s counsel that we as believers need in our day, “Listen to Him.” It’s counsel Peter needed in his day, along with the other disciples.

  • When you don’t know what to say or do, don’t talk, listen to Jesus. 
  • When you’re confused and you don’t know what to believe, listen to Jesus. 
  • When God’s ways are contrary to your natural ways of thinking, don’t trust your own heart, listen to Jesus. 
  • When you’re surrounded by great Bible teachers and writers and preachers and respected spiritual leaders, don’t make idols of them, listen to Jesus. 
  • When you’re tempted, as Peter was, to give God direction—this will never happen to you?—listen to Jesus. 
  • When you think you know what to do next, “Let’s build three tents here,” put away your foolish plans, and listen to Jesus.

Verse 6 tells us,

When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Rise, and have no fear." And when they lifted up their eyes they saw no one but Jesus only.

Isn’t it interesting that no one fell on their face when Peter spoke, no one fell on their face when Moses and Elijah spoke? It makes me wonder if one of the reasons people aren’t falling on their faces in our churches today may be because we’re not listening to God.

When they heard the voice of God, they fell on their faces and were terrified. It’s an experience that Ezekiel had, that Daniel had, it’s an experience that the apostle John would have in the Revelation. They were overcome by the voice of God, even more than by the sight of Christ’s glory . . . a reminder of the power of God’s Word.

But mercifully, in spite of their terror, they were not consumed by the glory of God. We see the mercy of Christ when He touches them and says, “Get up and don’t be afraid.” And then they saw no one but Jesus only. I love it. Isn’t that what we need today?

Moses and Elijah were no longer needed; their role was finished. They were, now, as disciples, left alone with Christ. His coming work at the cross would be sufficient and Christ would complete God’s redemptive plan. Moses and Elijah—great men of God—now gone, but Christ was still with them.

Remember that when you go home and Dr. Carson and Dr. Keller and Dr. Piper are nowhere to be found in your home. Remember Christ goes with you.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, “Tell no one the vision until the Son of man is raised from the dead.” It is similar to what He had said in the previous chapter. He knew that some would want to take Him and make Him king before His death and resurrection.

I see in Jesus, coming down from that Mount of Transfiguration, the submission of the Son to the will of the Father. We’ve glimpsed just for a moment what it is that He laid aside to come to this earth—the glory that was His. And I think that, from a human perspective, Jesus could have gone back to heaven at that moment.

There was the thinnest of veils between Him and heaven at that point. He could have, on a human level, avoided the cross. But He chose to go back down the mountain, to deal with human need, demonic forces, sin, death, sickness, to go to the cross—humiliation.

What bearing does all of this magnificent picture have on our lives today? Lots of things we could say, but two things in particular have been on my heart as I’ve been meditating on this passage:

Number 1, for those who are in Christ, His transfiguration points to our transformation. The purpose of His death and His resurrection—that’s what He was talking about up there on the mountain—His exodus—the purpose of His exodus, His death, was to rescue us from sin and from these bodies of death, to redeem and make all things new by means of His sacrificial death and His resurrection.

His transfiguration points to our transformation in both a past and a present and also a future sense. In the past, those of us who are in Christ are a new creation—all things have become new, 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us. Our spirits have been made alive by His Spirit. We know this as “justification” . . . the transformation from living in death to living in life, from darkness into light, from being outside of Christ to being in Christ. Justified . . . made a new creation.

There’s a present transformation that is taking place even now as our souls are gradually being transformed, and His new nature is being manifest increasingly in us. We think of that as sanctification, transfigured, metamorphosed, a complete change in form and appearance.

The implication of His transfiguration is that the glory of God in us totally changes us; it makes us different. It’s a word that is used in only two other places in the New Testament apart from the gospel accounts: Romans chapter 12, “Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed [transfigured, metamorphosed] by the renewal of your mind” (v. 2).

And then 2 Corinthians chapter 3, “We all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord are transfigured into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (v. 18). Sanctification—that invisible process of transformation which takes place in us as believers during our lives here on earth in preparation for eternity in heaven.

Christ’s transfiguration, remember, happened as He prayed. As Oswald Chambers says in his book The Incomparable Christ, “Is not that still the method of transfiguration? It’s as we fix our eyes on Christ. ‘We all with unveiled faces beholding as in a mirror, gazing upon the Lord.’”

That’s why David says, “One thing have I asked of the Lord. That will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord.” It’s as we gaze upon His beauty that we are transfigured into His likeness.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss, describing the significance of the transfiguration. This event calls us to be more like Jesus and reflect His beauty. We’ll hear a final thought from Nancy’s message in a few minutes. That message is part two of a three-day series called "On Another Mountain." 

Do you appreciate hearing teaching like this? Would you consider helping us continue providing this teaching day by day? Support from our listeners allows us to stay on the air. Your gift helps us connect with women like Beth. She wrote to tell us about a dark time in her life. She said,

I was a young mom with my first baby, and my own mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I was overwhelmed with grief for my mom, as well as anxiety about how I would face the years ahead, without my mom to support and counsel me.

Around that time, Revive Our Hearts began broadcasting. Beth started listening about ten years ago, and has consistently listened ever since. She writes,

I’m sure that I would be a different person today, had I not been under Nancy’s teaching all these years.

God used Revive Our Hearts to give Beth direction and comfort during that dark time. Now she’s counseling other young women. She writes,

God recently connected me with a young wife and mom who’s in the same situation I was in ten years ago. Her mother was also diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, at forty-seven years old.

This young woman asked Beth if she had an older Titus 2-type woman in her life, since she had not been able to lean on her mom. Beth said,

Nancy’s counsel and Bible teaching on Revive Our Hearts had been the discipleship God had for me all these years. It has shaped me into the godly wife and mom that I hope and pray I am becoming.

Nancy, what goes through your mind when you read an email like that?

Nancy: Leslie, listening to stories like this just makes me so thankful to the Lord. He’s the One who connects this ministry to women who need to hear it. He’s the One who makes it possible for us to get involved in women’s lives on the radio and by means of the Internet. And He does all that through the financial support of our listeners who make it possible for us to speak biblical truth to women’s lives just when they need to hear it.

So if you’re one of those who have given to help support this ministry financially, I just want to say a huge “thank you” from our team, and on behalf of women like Beth, whose lives have been deeply impacted as a result.

Leslie: When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we’d like to send you a book called The Incomparable Christ by Oswald SandersThis would be a great book to read leading up to Resurrection Sunday because it will open your eyes to new facets of the character of Jesus. We’d also like to send you a journal to help you ponder what you’re reading and apply it to your life. 

Nancy’s going to teach a related series called "The Incomparable Christ" starting February 18. So you can listen and follow along with the book and the journal and make this a very meaningful, Christ-focused Easter season. 

Ask for The Incomparable Christ set when you call with your support. The number is 1–800–569–5959. You can also take advantage of this offer by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com. We’ll send one set per household with your donation.

It’s natural to avoid suffering, but tomorrow Nancy explains why we should expect suffering to come. She’ll help you develop godly ways to to do that, tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.