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“And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him” (Matthew 17:3).
The Transfiguration was a literal event and not a vision because the Scriptures record the fact that both Elijah and Moses are not sleeping in their graves like the rest of the prophets. Elijah was translated to heaven alive in a chariot of fire without seeing death (2 Kings 2:11, 12) and Moses received a special resurrection by Christ. There was a dispute over the body of Moses, Satan wanted to prevent Christ from resurrecting him from the dead (Jude 9).
The Transfiguration was a real event because we have the testimony of the Father Himself saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him” (Matthew 17:5). This is the same voice that was heard at the time of Christ’s baptism (Matthew 3:17) and later, at the very close of His ministry (John 12:28). Upon these three occasions the Father personally attested the divine Son-ship of Jesus.
Moses and Elijah, one raised from the dead and the other translated without seeing death, appeared with Jesus as a type of the second coming in which the saints of all ages will be with Him in glory (Matt. 25:31; Col. 3:4). Elijah appeared as a representative of the saints who will be translated without seeing death when Jesus comes and Moses as a representative of the righteous who die and will be raised from their graves to accompany their Savior to heaven.
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17).
In His service,