Have you ever had an epiphany, a special revelation from God? It is something that people who have had a near-death experience talk about. It could be a dream or even a vision.
Let us understand that encounters with God are not as rare as we might think.
We will look at a rendezvous with God, happy days, the two main theories about death, our failures, sacred places and some allusions in the transfiguration.
A rendezvous with God
When Jesus prayed it was a rendezvous with God, not just a speech. In one such divine meeting he was dramatically transformed. The Old Testament is sometimes spoken of as two major parts, the law and the prophets. The major figure of each was Moses and Elijah. How appropriate that in his transfiguration, Jesus spoke with those two people (Luke 9:28-43). God spoke directly so that others could hear only a few times in Jesus life, at his baptism and here, saying this is my beloved Son, hear him. In a society where Moses and Elijah were “heard” every week in the assembly, this was a new instruction. Is Jesus the one to whom we listen? When we pray, do we just speak to God or also await expectantly the possibility of a dramatic experience of God’s divine presence?
What have been the happiest days of our lives so far? The birth of a child, a wedding, a baptism or confirmation, a special trip, a graduation, a party are all occasions to remember. What about a theophany, a special appearance of God. The disciples Peter, James and John experienced one of their happiest days as a time on the mountaintop with Jesus (Luke 9:28-43). It was a day of prayer and intimacy with God. Throughout history people have recorded those rare moments of a special appearance of God, a near-death experience, a dream or a vision. The transfiguration was a life-changing experience and it began with prayer. Prayer is an opportunity every day to change our lives. It is an encounter with God, a time for an intimate meeting with the ruler of the universe. Don’t miss out.
In heaven or asleep
Present or future, heavenly or earthly? Those are questions that many ask about the transfiguration in Luke 9:28-43. There are two main theories of eternity which struggle with this scripture. Are Moses and Elijah alive in heaven now or asleep and awaiting a resurrection? Was the vision Moses and Elijah as they are now, or as they will be after a future resurrection? There are also two main theories about our future. Will it be in heaven or on earth? Actually after Revelation, heaven and earth come together and the point becomes moot, but in the in-between time, there are two main theories. Are Moses and Elijah in heaven now, or waiting to reign on the earth after Christ’s return? I lean towards the popular belief, but the truth is, it is all a mystery. We’ll all know then.
Failure in the valley
Why is it that immediately after the “mountain-top” experience of a lifetime, the disciples failed in the valley (Luke 9:28-43)? They could not heal a demon possessed boy. But Jesus was with them and he healed the boy and gave him back to his father. They were all amazed at the mighty power of God, in the valley. Many Christians look for that mountain top experience, but we live in the valley. Sheep climb out of the valley to escape predators, but must go back to the valley to eat. The valley is where the food is. It is where we live. Though we meet God on the mountain top, he is with us also in the valley. Though we walk through the valley of the shadow of the shadow of death, let’s remember that he is with us.
The mountaintop became a sacred place during the transfiguration because the disciples experienced an incredible vision of Jesus, Moses and Elijah (Luke 9:28-43). The first such sacred place was the garden east of Eden, which our first parents regretfully disrespected. Other sacred places were the burning bush and the tabernacle. In all such sacred places we experience a taste of God. A sacred place can be where we pause for daily prayer. For me a forest pathway has always been a sacred place where I am reminded of the presence of God in the majesty of his creation. For most of us our church buildings become sacred places, because there we hear the word of God expounded, pray and sing praises to his glory. Sacred places can be anywhere that we are reminded of the ubiquitous presence of God.
Allusions in the Transfiguration
In the transfiguration are many allusions. It occurred possibly on Mount Tabor. Peter wanted to build something and something was finally built there, the Church of the Transfiguration. Jesus, Moses and Elijah had some similar experiences. Each fasted 40 days (Exodus 34:28; 1 Kings 19:8; Matthew 4:2). Elijah was lifted up into the heavens before he died (2 Kings 2). The discussion between the three during the transfiguration included Jesus’ upcoming exodus or departure from this life (Luke 9:28-43), an obvious allusion to Moses’ exodus. The passage also alludes to the eighth day, which in the early church was also a way of speaking about Sunday, a weekly memorial of Jesus’ resurrection. The appearance of glory uses words that are only found in places describing the return of Christ, an obvious allusion to the second coming.
We often think of an epiphany as a special revelation from God, but it can be an everyday experience as well. God gives us every breath, ever heartbeat and every mouthful of food comes from his creation just for us. We encounter God all throughout the day. God is ubiquitous, omnipresent. Let's give God thanks for his minute-by-minute Providence.