Matthew 17:1-13 Part 6

Even though the “Day of The Lord” has come and gone; even though the “shaking of heaven and earth” has passed; even though the “old” has been done away with and the “New Heavens and the New Earth” has been established; even though the families and tongues and tribes of the heathen Gentiles have been included in the covenantal promises of God; and even though the Church has been founded upon the “Rock which is Christ”; and even though the Son of God has been crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords and rules the nations of earth with the Rod of His Law – here, two thousand years into this “New Age”, the Lord’s people are still in full battle array with the Sword of Christ as our sole weapon of warfare – victory!

And in the little portion of God’s history in which we live – a generation which has recently seen the coming of a new millennium – we are experiencing the decline of a nation which our Lord once raised up to accomplish great things in His Name!  Although only temporary, nevertheless it is a serious and shameful deviation from the direction of Christ’s Kingdom.

Even given our history, the behavior of this nation is spewing eruptions of blasphemies in the very face of God; and the only way to characterize the society and culture is – it is obscene!  And the further we run from the authority and Revelation of God, the more intense the corruption!  That’s obvious, because the essence of the judgment of God upon sin is delivery over to more sin!  It’s attributable only to the marvelous grace of God that the judgment to date has been tempered with mercy toward the Church – for otherwise this desperate and hysterical rush toward the gates of hades, which is the complete antithesis of our forefathers’ intent, would have culminated in wrath and fury!  Once the light of the world in Christ, we have become the pattern of death.

And, here, several days after some major Supreme Court decisions, the polls indicate that much of the nation wants more of the same!  And the cultural, political and ecclesiastical leadership of the nation has no answers.  It is pitiful, indeed, that the best we can muster against this gross obscenity is a painfully inadequate cliché – “family values”.  That only serves as a clear and simple illustration of how far we’ve fallen from the foundation of our Puritan forefathers’ vision; a vision of a nation founded upon the Rock which is Christ; and their hope for a people who would shine the Light of the Gospel to all the nations of the earth – to the establishment of the fullness of the Kingdom of Christ!

And the Church isn’t in much better condition than the non-churched society – basking in its riches, and wallowing in the mud of its impurities.  Tolerating lawlessness with the guise of love, it has rejected the very foundation of a Godly society – God’s Holy Law.  And, further, having rejected The Law, it has no basis at all for judging lawlessness!  And, you see, without an understanding of God’s Law, how can there be obedience to the King of Glory Who is the fullness of that Law?

Secondly, not only has the Church (and the society) rejected God’s Law (and therefore the Kingship of Christ), but, due to its rejection of Theology and Biblical preaching, it has a limited and shallow understanding of the Priestly sacrifice of The Christ and His continual intercession for us before The Father!  And, therefore, there is no identification with His sacrificial death, His resurrection, and His ascension to glory (the subject of today’s text).

And thirdly, not only has the Church (and all of society) rejected the Law of God (and therefore the Kingship of Christ), and not only does it have a limited understanding of the Priesthood of Christ; but it has also misapprehended, and misapplied, the prophetic fullness of the Person of Christ!  The work of preaching has been replaced by psychological “caring”; proclamation has been superceded by personal oratory and entertainment; and, therefore the prophetic Word (the fullness of which is the Christ) is not going forth to disciple the nations and establish His Kingdom!

Please have this understanding:  The Anointing of the priests of the Old Testament, such as Aaron and his sons; the Anointing of the kings of the Old Testament, such as David and Solomon; and the Anointing of the prophets of the Old Testament, such as Elisha; all of these are “filled up” in the Christ.  The very word “Christ” means “The Anointed One!”

And the inspired Revelation of the New Testament literally screams its affirmation of the Old: 


“This is truly the Prophet Who is to come into the world.”  (John six, fourteen)


“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus.”  (Hebrews three, verse four)


“And He has His robe and on His thigh a name written:  King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”  (Revelation nineteen, sixteen)


He is the glorious fullness of the priests; He is the glorious fullness of the prophets; He is the glorious fullness of the kings. 


“For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”  (Colossians two, nine)  “For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell….”  (Colossians one, nineteen) 


He is the Prophet, Priest, and King!

And the apostle Paul says that we are to participate in these things! 


“Now that He ascended, what is it but that He also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?  He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that He might fill all things.  And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”!  (Ephesians four, verses nine through thirteen)


The knowledge of the Son of God Who gloriously ascended “far above all heavens, that He might fill all things….”  We attain to the measure of the fullness of Christ!!

But where is this nation headed when its best shot at the “fullness of the Kingdom of Christ” is its weak support for “family values”?  And where will this society end up if it rejects even this minimal defense against obscene blasphemy?  We have to shudder in fear to think that God might be so angry with us that He places above us those who are philanderous, lying socialists; hypocrite judges, and humanist law makers.  And that He require of us to render honor and obedience to those of this identity!  And if we must do so, then we do so in the full knowledge that we deserve it!  We must give full honor and respect and obedience to those whom God places in authority over us – even if they are the personification of our society’s evil, even if they are the representatives of our obscenity – because we deserve it; because the nation and the Church have rejected the perfect Prophet, Priest and King Whom God has placed over us!

Society, as well as the Church, must acknowledge the Glory of the Resurrected and Ascended Christ – the Anointed One of God!  If the nation – i.e. the society, the culture, the government – will not acknowledge Him; and if the Church will not preach Him and obey Him – if men will not know Him and have a sense of His glory – then God will, most assuredly, give us leaders more to our liking!  And they will represent the lowest and basest common denominator among us.  And that lowest common denominator will participate, with them, in the theft and redistribution of wealth; the restriction of personal freedoms; lying and deceit; the intrusion of civil government into the other realms of Church, family and business; and in sexual perversions.

But the lowest common denominator will not participate with leaders in the one thing which they will jealously guard for themselves; and that is the right to manipulate by power!  Leaders will take on the mantle of prophet, priest and king in opposition to the One Who said that He has been given all power in heaven and earth.

But all along the way the true Church will know that they are only temporary.  And it will know, also, that the Spirit of God will cause the Church to purify itself and learn to stand stronger upon the Rock which is Christ!  And, further, it will also know that, whatever opposition there is to the True Prophet, Priest and King, it cannot win.  The Law and the Prophets has been made flesh.  And He walked into Jerusalem and placed Himself at the disposal of the elders and priests and scribes; and He suffered many things at their hands.  And He was killed.  And on the third day He was raised from the realm of death.  And He ascended into the cloud of glory to be given all power and dominion.

After telling His disciples these things that He must do, He then led three of them, Peter and James and John, up into the “high mountain” – which is the figure of the Rock which is carved out of the old mountain which was Israel, and which is the Rock which grows into a new mountain and covers the earth as the waters cover the sea.  And there He is transformed before them; and His countenance shone as the sun, and His garments were white as the light – all of these things being prophetic images of the New Heavens and the New Earth.  Jesus Christ was changed from the “form” of man to the “form” of glory.  (The glory which He “shed” for a time, in order to be born of a woman.)

And it was shown to them Moses and Elijah conferring with Jesus about His Exodus.  The officers of the “old” met with the Author of the “new” at the event of the pre-figuring of what was shortly to take place.  And the Author of the “new”, in all His glory and brightness, would fill up all the old shadows; and He would lead His people in an Exodus from the old – placing His Law in their hearts and preaching the Gospel of salvation to the nations of the earth!  What they could not do – He was going to do!  And that is – destroy the old and establish the New, put all His enemies under His feet, and bring the nations and tribes and tongues and families under His rulership; and He would be with them, and He would be their God and they would be His people.  He would actually die for them, in their flesh, making atonement for their sin; and He would reconcile them to the Father – with Whom they would have fellowship and communion for ever!

This is the glory of the Christ – the Prophet, Priest and King – which this nation must know and acknowledge!  And this is the glorified Christ which the Church must know and obey and preach!

Now, this blasphemous and obscene – decadent – nation wants a savior!  It knows that there is one!  But all its energies are spent on suppressing and opposing the One that’s True!  And in His place, many are seeking one who will give them all of their empowerment, their identity, their well-being, their security, and their welfare.  And they would empower this savior to control every facet of national life for the benefit of all – and that includes ultimate power over the individual, the family, business and the Church.

But some others are seeking after a savior who would disinvest the government of all of its functions and place ultimate authority in the hands of individuals and families!  To these, any authority – including civil government or Church government – is an infringement on the authority of the individual.  This is chaotic libertarianism.

On the other hand, there is a smaller group who are seeking after a savior who would place the ultimate authority in the hands of the institutional Church.  These are those who would say that the authority of the individual, that of the family, and that of civil government ought to accede to the authority of the Church, for in only this way will there ever be a just society!

Well, it is obvious that the first group has the majority of savior-seekers.  And if God doesn’t intervene with a mighty hand, Christian schools, home schools, the Church, small businesses, publishing, broadcasting, trade, money, the family – everything will be invaded by central control, for the benefit of the masses – for the sake of the poor – for the sake of equality – for the sake of minority groups – in the name of compassion; for it’s only right, they say, that everyone should have the same.  And no group of perverted citizens should be excluded.

And this new savior, having heard the shrill cry of the people, will come in from the wilderness and assume control, in order to bring the nation into its hoped-for utopia:  free sex, a legal mandate for abortion and euthanasia, absolute acceptance of homosexuality and homosexual marriage, equal access to the law for children, free food, free housing, free medical care, a perfectly pristine environment, by the elimination of industry, absolute rejection of competition between the sexes, tolerance and acceptance of every aberrant behavior, and the elimination of family authority and Church authority!

Now this is somewhat like what Israel was hoping for in the coming Messiah!  That Moses would finally come in from the wilderness with the Law.  And Elijah would come in from that same wilderness and preach repentance and bring peace and security to the nation.  And then the Messiah would come in and assume the throne of David and bring the nation back to glory and preeminence among all the nations of the earth.  So you see that the present-day hope of this decadent nation is no different, in essence, than the false hopes of Israel before its destruction!  It’s the same eschatological hope – a false messiah!

Now, as you see in verse four of our text, the apostle Peter jumps in at the end of the conference between Moses and Elijah and Jesus, and expresses the hope of Israel!  He says that it’s excellent that all of this is happening right now, and that they are all here; and that if Jesus wished, Peter would build three tents, or booths, or tabernacles for them!  As the people of Israel lived in tents made of sticks and fur and skins for forty years before coming into Israel, so Moses and Elijah and the Messiah could complete their sojourn in the desert wilderness until the exact time for them to come in!  Then Jesus could assume His righteous reign in the city of David.

But Peter could not have been more wrong!  As our nation is seeking the wrong messiah, so Israel was seeking the wrong messiah!  Moses and Elijah were there with Jesus to signal the end of the age – and the beginning of the New, where Jesus Christ would be the New Tent, or Tabernacle, and the New Israel – New People – was the Church!

The apostle James, who was here at the transformation of Jesus on the “high Mountain”, later proclaims these very things at the General Assembly of the Church in Acts chapter fifteen.  He quotes from Amos who prophesies concerning the Gentiles at the building of the New Tabernacle: 


“After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up; that the remnant of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom My Name is called, saith the Lord….”


This is the prophecy of the new Tabernacle – the new Tent – of Christ you see.  It is inclusive of all the nations of the earth!

The apostle John, who was also there on that “high Mountain” records this in chapter two of his Gospel:


“Jesus answered and said, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’  Then said the Jews, ‘Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?’  But He spoke of the temple of His body.”


In other words, He is the location of God’s presence among men on earth.  Where Christ is, there is God’s dwelling – His “tent”.

Revelation seven pictures an elder before God’s throne informing the apostle John that God would “encamp” – “tent” – “tabernacle” over those who had come out of the great tribulation; He would “shelter” them – “tabernacle” them – with His Presence!  He would dwell with them continuously within His temple!

With the arrival of the New Jerusalem, Revelation twenty-one, the city is prepared as a bride adorned for her husband, and God will dwell with men – the word is “tent” or “tabernacle”.  He, Himself, will be personally and permanently present in the midst of His people who will witness the fullness of His promise – “I shall be their God and they shall be My people.”

And Hebrews eight and nine contrast the “tent” pitched by God in Christ and the earthly tabernacle erected by Moses in the wilderness.

The entire New Testament Scriptures interpret the Old Testament shadows and prophecies as being brought to their fullness in the Person Christ – God’s Anointed.  He is the New Dwelling Place – the New Temple, the New Tabernacle – the New Israel.  There was no more need for tents in the wilderness – no more need for a temple – no more need for the showbread and the laver and the altar of incense and the whole burnt offering and the inner “holy of holies”.  There was now a New Tabernacle – the Messiah Himself dwells with men in the New Jerusalem!

So, just as our nation is seeking the wrong messiah, so Peter and the nation of Israel were seeking the wrong messiah!  What they were looking for – anticipating – was the exact antithesis of what our Lord did as He was transformed into the “form” of glory on that High Mountain!  And it is this glorious Savior Who we must worship and know and obey and glorify.  The nation will not stand and the Church will not stand unless they know His glorious Person.

We don’t need another savior to come in and bring us into utopia.  We have a Savior Who has destroyed “heaven and earth” for us, and has pitched His tent over us to shelter us.  And He now tabernacles with us – and He is our God and we are His people!  He is the new holy of holies – His body is the new tabernacle.  And because He is with us, we will be brought into the measure of His fullness.  His glory is our brightness; His presence is our perfection; He is Immanuel – God with us!!

Peter’s expectation of a Messianic King to rule in a revived Israel was a false expectation.  Neither can our people expect a man or a court or a system to revive America.  The real Prophet, Priest, and King is the One Anointed by God Himself.  And America must acknowledge Him in order to live.

The Church’s expectation of a Messianic Kingdom in a revived Israel is a false expectation!  It is a theological aberration with most severe consequences! 

Israel was divorced by God and the death penalty was executed.  Christ has been glorified; He was given all power in heaven and earth; and all the nations were given to Him.  He is the glorified King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and the Church must acknowledge that in order to live.

Next Lord’s Day – the words of God the Father to the apostle Peter.