No. 5

Luke 9:30,31
And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elijah:
Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.
The subject we are upon suggests many enquiries.  Why were these things thus?  It becomes us however to propose and pursue them with caution, not for the gratification of our curiosity, but for our instruction and the confirmation of our faith.  Why were there any witnesses summoned from the heavenly world?  Why saints rather than angels?  Why only two?  And why these two, preferable to the cloud of witnesses, who had lived upon earth?  Some of these questions are perhaps best referred to the divine will.  God does not see fit to acquaint us with all the reasons of his proceedings.  We may safely rest in a persuasion that all his appointments are wise and expedient, and hereafter perhaps we shall clearly know what at present is not revealed.
To give the disciples and to give us from their testimony, a confirmation that there is a blessed state beyond the present life, two persons who had once been partakers of our afflictions and infirmities now appeared with Jesus in glory.  Perhaps there was as at his birth a great multitude of the heavenly host present, but these only appeared or were visible to mortal eyes.  I know not that there is any stress to be laid upon the number two.  These two were selected, and we may observe concerning them:
1. [Moses and Elijah]
  1.1 [Their resemblance]
There had been a resemblance in several parts of their history, in which they had been peculiarly differenced from all other servants of God.  Both had seen the glory of God in the mount, both had been supernaturally sustained without food, forty days and nights. Both had been eminent instruments in their day.   By Moses the law had been given – by Elijah the knowledge and practice of it had been restored in a very degenerate time.  The Scriptures which were then known, were generally reduced to two heads – the law and the prophets.  Moses the lawgiver, and Elijah as a representative of the prophets, appeared, to signify that all that was written in the law and the prophets, terminated in Jesus.  The Jews professed a great regard to the writings of Moses and the prophets yet they rejected their testimony in favour of Christ.  The disciples by this interview were convinced, how little their professed teachers knew of the true meaning of the Scriptures.
  1.2 [Their difference]
In one thing they differed.  Elijah was translated without tasting death.  The circumstances of Moses' death were uncommon and honourable, yet he did die.  Now he appeared in glory upon equal advantage with Elijah.  I see no reason to suppose that he assumed a body upon this occasion, or the appearance of a body only.  I rather think that he was partaker of the resurrection of Jesus – before the great day of the general resurrection, as it is certain several were soon afterwards (Matthew 27:53). [1]  Though they left this world in different ways, they now appeared in the same glory.  Various are the dispensations through which the Lord's people pass in the present life, and by which they pass out of it, but they shall all appear at last in the same glory.  And thus their redemption draweth nigh. [2]
How the disciples knew M&E[Moses and Elijah] we are not told.  Perhaps our Lord informed them, either when they appeared, or after they departed.  Or for ought we know, an impression attended their appearance that satisfied the disciples who they were.  It seems not at all improbable that when we mingle with the world of spirits, we shall know as we are known – without needing information.  How sweet will the communion be, which believers shall have with each other, not only with those whom they walked with here below, but with all who have died in the Lord.  O to sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in our Father's kingdom.  But these things as yet are hid.  We cannot order our speech concerning them by reason of darkness.
What follows is more plain.  If we had only heard that Moses and Elijah came down to converse with Jesus, we should have felt some desire or wish to know the subject of their conference.  Here we are told, and it is worthy our notice.  They spake not of such trifling incidents as the world accounts great, not of the rise and fall of kingdoms, etc.  Their conversation turned entirely upon him, his sufferings and the glorious event of his undertaking.  These are the grand topics of heaven and heaven-born souls.  Alas for poor mortals, to many of whom the Redeemer's sufferings and glories, which is the delightful theme and song of angels, is tasteless, tedious and offensive.
2. They spake of his decease
They spake of his decease – or his departure – his Exodus – it is the word by which we call the book that relates the departure of Israel from Egypt – and may be understood of:
  2.1 [His departure out of life]
His departure out of life in agonies and sufferings.  This was foretold by Moses and the prophets – this was now confirmed by Moses and Elijah.  It was an interesting subject to them.  They were redeemed by that price which he was soon to pay.  They saw more clearly the dignity of his person and the value of his redemption than we can do in this imprisoned state.  We may believe they did not speak of it in that cold and careless manner which we often do.
  2.2 [His departure out of the world]
His departure out of the world when having completed his purpose, he would return victorious to heaven.  As he had his sufferings in view, so likewise his glory.
1. Let us learn to imitate the glorified saints and talk more of Jesus, what he has done and what he is doing where he is.
2. Let us aspire to be with them that we may know more and praise better.  We are too much tied to the things of sense, too willing and well satisfied to live at a distance from our home.  Our willingness to wait the Lord's time for our dismission should be an act of submission and resignation to his will – and not because we are pleased with the world.
3. See what alone can reconcile you to death – the knowledge of an interest in this salvation – a good hope that you shall join the heavenly host.  If you die without faith, your passage will be dark, and your end deplorable.

[1] Matthew 27:53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
[2] Luke 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.

Cowper & Newton Museum, 714(16), N40

Marylynn Rouse, 06/08/2020