“And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him” (Matthew 17:3).
Moses is in heaven and appeared to Jesus at the transfiguration. This event was a literal incident 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. Here were living representatives to bear witness to the divinity of Jesus (Luke 24:44). Moses was the great deliverer, lawgiver, and founder of the Hebrew nation, and Elijah the one who saved it in a time of great apostasy and crisis.
Elijah was translated to heaven alive in a chariot of fire without seeing death (2 Kings 2:11, 12) while Moses received a special resurrection by Christ. The Scriptures tell us about the burial of Moses in Deut. 34:5, 6, where it is recorded that the Lord buried His faithful servant and that his grave was not known to men.
There was a dispute over the body of Moses, Satan wanted to prevent Christ from resurrecting him from the dead (Jude 9). From the fact that Moses appeared with Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration, it may be concluded that the Lord triumphed in the contest with the devil and raised him from his grave, making him the first known subject of Christ’s resurrecting power.
The fact that Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ at this time is therefore not to be taken to prove that all the righteous dead are in heaven. These two, one raised from the dead and the other translated without seeing death, appeared with Jesus, as a type of the new glorious kingdom in which the ransomed of all ages will be with Him in glory “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:16, 17).
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In His service,
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