Understanding the Transfiguration (are Moses and Elijah in heaven)

Are Moses and Elijah currently in heaven, and what was the purpose of the transfiguration?

Are you ready to UNLEAR some of the lies you have inherited?

Often in connection with their belief that Elijah is in heaven, people reference the

transfiguration when Elijah and Moses appeared to be speaking with Yeshua. They claim that

this event proves that Elijah and Moses are actually in heaven, and that they were able

to communicate with Yeshua. Let’s examine the verses in question, and see what the Bible

actually says.

“Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high

mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun,

and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them,

talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to

be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and

one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them;

and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I

am well pleased. Hear Him!" And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were

greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, "Arise, and do not be afraid."

When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Now as they came down

from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, "Tell the vision to no one until the Son of

Man is risen from the dead.” (Matthew 17:1-9)

This is one of those events that seems so fantastic that it is often difficult for people

believe as a true event. Dead people appearing to be alive, a voice coming from the clouds,

and a man who’s face became bright like the sun. It sounds like something straight

out of a science fiction novel.

How should we understand this event? Should we conclude that two men who had been dead

for thousands of years were now talking to Yeshua? Or, was it something else?

I often tell people that we must let the Bible interpret itself. We cannot let our opinions,

or the opinions of others cloud our understanding of certain verses. When we let the Bible interpret

itself, we don’t have to worry about having the wrong interpretation.

So, what does the Bible tell us about this event?

Many people overlook verse 9, but it is actually the key verse in understanding what happened

at the transfiguration. Yeshua explains that what happened on the mountain was only a “vision”.

“Now as they came down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, "Tell the vision

to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.” (Matthew 17:9)

We can also see from verse 3 when it says, “Moses and Elijah appeared to them”, that

the vision was given for the three disciples who were present. The word used here that

is translated “appeared” is the Greek word ὤφθη (ōphthē), which means to

see or experience, but often with metaphorical implication, “to see with the mind” or

perceive without eyes.

The dictionary defines a vision as:

"something seen in a dream, trance, or ecstasy; especially a supernatural appearance that

conveys a revelation; a thought, concept, or object formed by the imagination; a manifestation

to the senses of something immaterial."

We see many examples of visions throughout the Bible, and we understand that when someone

has a vision, they are seeing something with their mind. The things that they perceive

are not physically present, but are in a sense imagined. Visions are sometimes about real

people or events, but the person having the vision is only having a dream-like experience,

and is not actually seeing the physical person or event.

For example, in Acts 10, when Peter had the vision of the animals on the sheet, we understand

that there were not really a bunch of animals floating in the sky on a giant sheet. It is

obvious that Peter was seeing those things with his mind. It would be absurd for us to

conclude that a blanket full of wild animals was floating in the sky above Peter’s house.

Likewise, when Yeshua explains that it was only a vision of Moses and Elijah, we can

rest assured that Moses and Elijah were not actually present on the mountain.

Moses and Elijah appeared to Peter, James, and John in a vision, and the vision was given

to the disciples to reveal something to them about the Messiah. Moses represents the Torah

and Elijah represents the prophets. Both the Law and the Prophets were standing in approval

of Yeshua as a voice from heaven says, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Hear Him!"

It is no coincidence that this event took place only a few days after Peter's confession,

when he said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matthew 16:16) It was

as if God was confirming Peter's confession, so that there was no doubt who Yeshua really

was. First, Yeshua asked, "who do men say that I am", next He asked, "Who do you say

that I am", and shortly after, His Father also echoed the same answer that was given

through Peter. Yeshua is the Son of God, and the Law and Prophets confirm it! That is why

Moses and Elijah appeared in a vision, because they represent the Law and Prophets which

point to Yeshua as the Messiah.

It is actually vital that this event be understood as only a vision, because if Yeshua was actually

speaking to Moses and Elijah, then He would have been breaking the commandment which forbids

consulting with the dead. This single act of necromancy would have disqualified Him

from being the Messiah. We obviously cannot conclude that our Messiah was participating

in necromancy or functioning as some sort of medium who communicates with the dead.

Therefore, the only option we have is to conclude that it was simply a vision, in accordance

with what Yeshua already said.

We should also realize that Yeshua had no reason to speak with Moses and Elijah, because

He was able to speak directly to His Heavenly Father. The appearance of Moses and Elijah

was not for His sake, but for the sake of the disciples who were present. It was for

the purpose of spiritual revelation, not (as some think) to prove that Elijah and Moses

are actually in heaven.

Furthermore, even if this was not a vision, and Moses and Elijah had actually come to

life and spoken with Yeshua, that still would not prove that they are in heaven. All it

would prove is that God can raise the dead. However, the Bible clearly explains that this

was a vision, and we do not need to add our own assumptions and speculations