What's Next?

Whether you heard the message from Sunday or are part of one of our “What’s Next” groups at Venture, here’s a way for you to go deeper.

this week's next steps

Pray for a first or fresh encounter with Jesus

How can I participate in reclaiming the world alongside God

Start or restart a Bible reading plan to listen to Jesus

THIS WEEK'S STUDY

As Christian said in this wee's message, the Transfiguration is a foretaste of Jesus’ resurrection glory. It is a clear sign to the three closest disciples that the rabbi they are following truly is the Son of God, a confirmation of Peter’s earlier answer to Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” But it’s also more than that.

Why, in the midst of the Transfiguration, was Jesus seen talking to Moses and Elijah? Why those two men specifically? Both Moses and Elijah had their own encounters with the LORD on a high mountain. However, their encounters with the LORD were not just anywhere, they were both on Mount Sinai, also known as Mount Horeb, the place where the LORD made His everlasting covenant with Israel and gave us the Torah, His instructions for life and righteousness.

Moses encountered the LORD multiple times on Mount Sinai, but the most important encounter can be found in Exodus 33:18–34:9. Moses begs the LORD not to reject the people of Israel, and when the LORD agrees, Moses then asks Him to reveal His glory as a sign of that promise. However, the LORD says, “You cannot see My face, for mankind shall not see Me and live!” He then promises to hide Moses in a crevice in the rock of the mountain and protect him from accidentally seeing His face, but says that He will reveal His “back” to Moses. Of course, this is all metaphorical language. God does not have a “back” like we do. What He’s saying is that He will reveal as much of His own essence to Moses as a human being is able to withstand. And He does just that in Exodus 34:6-7. Moses is protected from seeing the LORD’s face, but he comes out from his protection and the LORD proclaims the very core of His essence to Moses.

Elijah’s encounter with the LORD on Mount Sinai is also a powerful encounter, but in its own unique way. You can read it in 1 Kings 19:8–18. Elijah is running from Queen Jezebel, and escapes to Mount Sinai/Horeb. He’s been running for almost two months. He’s tired, worn down, and depressed. He needs an encounter with the LORD like Moses had. When he finally gets to the mountain, he enters a cave for protection. Outside of the cave he sees a powerful wind that was strong enough to break rocks, then he sees an earthquake, and then a fire. However, we are told that the LORD was not in any of these three intense acts. Then, the LORD shows up in the sound of a gentle wind blowing, and Elijah goes to the entrance of the cave to have an encounter with the LORD.

Both of these great prophets had an encounter with the LORD, but their encounters with the LORD were not what they necessarily wanted or even expected. Moses wanted to see the LORD’s face, to encounter Him in the fullness of His glory, but the LORD cannot be seen by mortal humans in that way in this world of concealment. Elijah wanted to see the power of the LORD, to see Him come and crush Elijah’s enemies and redeem the people of Israel, or at the very least to just take Elijah out of the fight and away from those looking to kill him.

The encounter these great prophets had with the LORD was soft, comforting, and encouraging. I can just imagine both of them stepping out of their protective cave and having an encounter with “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15)—having a conversation through time and space with the future Messiah of Israel, and seeing a glimpse of the coming redemption they both so desperately wanted for the people of Israel.

Meanwhile, Jesus’ encounter with Moses and Elijah was also comforting and encouraging to him. In the story of the Gospels from this point forward we see a clear focus on the coming suffering and death of the Messiah. We see Jesus setting his face toward Jerusalem, and preparing to offer his life for the sake of humanity. Imagine the encouragement Jesus felt during this encounter with the two greatest prophets in Israel’s history, men of great faith who saw the LORD accomplish mighty things through their faithfulness and their willingness to endure hardship for the sake of the LORD’s plan.

May we all be blessed to have that same kind of encounter with our Messiah, our King. May we find comfort in the midst of hard times, and encouragement that leads to faithfulness, regardless of the trials in the journey ahead.

Questions to Consider:

  1. Do you feel a connection to how Moses and Elijah felt as they climbed Mount Sinai looking for an encounter with the LORD?
  2. How does their encounter with the very essence of the invisible God relate to your own encounter with Jesus? Was it full of wind and fire and earthquakes, or was it a small voice, a conversation
  3. How can you take encouragement from this encounter like Jesus did? As he left the Mount of Transfiguration, he knew he was headed toward suffering and even death. Yet, he was comforted in the knowledge that great prophets who came before him had endured similar threats and had been faithful to the LORD in the midst of their trials.

This Week's Bible Reading Plan:

Resources for our Study:

Digging Deeper

 Caesarea Philippi - Caesarea Philippi, Banias, Peter's Confession of Christ | HolyLandSite.com
  • Cultic site with exceedingly grim idol worship and sexual depravity.
  • Tribe of Dan has a cloud of controversy and “less than” hanging over them from the beginning.
    • Daughter of Jacob and Milha the maidservant
    • Last to receive their allotment of land and it was also the smallest
    • Initially located between the Philistines, the large and powerful tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
    • They failed to occupy the gift that was given to them by God and secured by Joshua.
    • They decide to move to Caesarea Phillipi from Be’er Sheva
      • The land is green and lush, with water everywhere; it seemed like a better spot to them – they were wrong. It turns out to lead them into sinful situations.
      • The way they take it from the land is grim (Read Judges 18:11-26). They continue to develop a bad reputation here.
  • King Jeroboam (the split-off King) set up two worship sites in the Kingdom of Israel to entice people from traveling to the Kingdom of Judah to the Temple in Jerusalem. He blurred the word of God: Different Priesthoods, different holidays, altars with a golden calf.
    • Some of the worst worship we bring is not “not worship” but counterfeit worship
    • A 180-degree difference is easy to spot, but a 5-degree difference is difficult to spot
  • So, why did Jesus bring his disciples here?
    • 30 miles from Capernaum is a long journey…to a very unholy place with very unholy people
    • This is the place where Jesus declares Jesus the Messiah. I think: He did this to send the message to the disciples that his message was for all people. Jesus was showing to the disciples that he was going to plant his church through them and that they needed to be in even unexpected places like this.    

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