Dr. Ed Young - The Mountain of Validation
So, we're going to climb up the Mount of Transfiguration. Now, people have asked the question, "Well, where is the Mount of Transfiguration"? A lot of people think it's Mount Horeb and that's what Jerome said, and I've been on top of Mount Horeb, and I think it says Mount Horeb because it's nothing but about 1,800 feet high, and you can get up there rather easily. I think it was done for the tourists so they can show us where the Mount of Transfiguration was. I don't believe it was there. I think it's on Mount Hermon. Mount Hermon is, you know, way up there, 10,000 feet high, hard to get to, but geographically when you look at what was happening prior to the Transfiguration experience, it makes sense, because Mount Hermon is about 10 miles southwest of the Sea of Galilee. And we know, as you read these three gospels... by the way, the story of the Mount of Transfiguration is told in three gospels, and you got three different stories. They're alike, but they're different.
You say, "Aha! That's an error in the Bible". Let me tell you something. If I told all of us to go home and write down what happened in church today, you'd think we went to 40 different churches, but we have the insight led by the Holy Spirit of three individuals who tells us what happened on the mountain. To me, this gives unusual validity to the truth of the story. They don't perfectly coincide, and so we see there on the Mount of Transfiguration, Mount Hermon, and we have to, sort of, walk into it by previous Scripture, and I wanna read there what happened.
This also, at the foot of the mountain there, this is Caesarea Philippi. It's the headwaters of the Jordan River and that's where Jesus took his apostles on a retreat and he questioned them, as he was discipling them, and he said, "Who do people say that I am? What is the news on the street"? He said, "Well, some think you're Elijah, some Jeremiah," et cetera, et cetera. He said, "But what I wanna know as Jesus, who do you think I am"? Old Simon Peter, once in a while he got it right. He said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," and then we see Jesus lays on them some strong, strong words, and you have to read these in the Gospel according to Luke. He said, "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, whoever loses his life for my sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and he forfeits his soul"?
I have a feeling about this time those apostles are saying, "What have we gotten into"? Jesus has already told them he's gonna die and be resurrected. They said, "We didn't know death was in this". And now he tells them, "You have to die daily in order to follow me". He said, "No, I didn't count on this". And he said, "If you wanna find your life, you gotta throw your life away". He said, "If you hoard your life, you're gonna lose it," and then that devastating Word. Listen carefully, ladies and gentlemen. You may have never heard it before. You may have heard it many times in church. He said, "Let me tell you something. Let me tell you something very, very important. What will it profit you, how will you get ahead, if you gain the whole world, boy, you get the whole world, and you lose your soul"?
Let me remind you what your soul is and what my soul is. The soul is everything about you that is not physical. Atoms, molecules, the body: physical. Everything about you and me that's not physical would be our spirit, our mind. Not our brain. Brain is physical. Our spirit, our choices, everything, the idea that we're built, the concept that we're built in the image of God. This is all a part of our soul, or you could take your body and my body and junk it, throw it away, it doesn't exist. Bury it. Our soul, the essence of who you are, the essence of who I am, is still valid. It's still there. We don't wanna lose that. That's precious, because we one day, because of Christ, we'll be united with a whole lot better body than this old body, and that's the resurrection body that we'll have in eternity. So, all this was laid on those apostles. That's heavy traffic, isn't it? You gotta die every day. All the things you've been looking for on this life doesn't mean poof if you lose the essence of who you are.
Now, after this challenge six or eight days went by. One of the gospel accounts said six. One says eight. You can read it, the account of the Mount of Transfiguration in Luke 9, Mark 9, in Matthew 12. It's right there for you and then you put it all together, and I'm gonna, sort of, walk through it with us and ask three questions. First of all, who was on the mountain? Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John, and they walked up a mountain about 10,000 feet high. That's a pretty good jaunt, if you know anything about walking up a mountain or climbing a mountain, 10,000 feet. When they get up there, by the way, Peter, James, and John went to sleep. Every time it seemed like the Lord needed them, they were asleep, in the garden, et cetera, but he took his three superheroes with him, his super apostles with him. I wonder why. We know that James died first, John died last, Peter was in the middle, and we know they were strategic people, and we see they woke up at the top of the mountain, and they give out, exhausted.
I understand that physically, don't you? And they went to sleep and then who was on the mountain? Those three, plus Jesus. And when they awakened, two people had joined them, because transfigured there was Elijah and Moses. Moses and Elijah. Moses had been dead, you know, 13, 1,400 years, Elijah 7 or 800 years, and there they were on the mountain. That's something, isn't it? I wonder why Moses and Elijah were there on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus and his group. Why those two? Why couldn't have been old Jeremiah, Daniel? I think Joseph could have been choice up there. Why these two on the mountain? First of all, they were there to be a witness, perhaps.
Somebody say, "Boy, here is a supernatural experience. I mean, who was up there can verify it"? You got three witnesses. They took that in a court of law in that day to verify something. Three witnesses and, perhaps, I think most of all it's because of who they were. Who was Moses? Author of the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. Moses was the law giver. And what about Elijah? He was the supreme prophet. We've already seen him in action on Mount Carmel, so you have the law giver and the prophet. And who was Jesus? We know Jesus fulfilled all the principles of the law and amplified them in his teaching, especially on the Beatitudes, so we see Jesus was there fulfilling the law, living the law, and fulfilling all the prophecy. Here is these predictions written down thousands of years and here is Jesus. He filled all of them up. Two strategic individuals. So, we see who was up there.
Now, we ask what happened, and you need to read it when you get home. I'll tell you what happened. When these three guys awakened, whoosh, the whole mountain was full of the Shekinah, the glory of God. One of the writers tells us that Jesus looked like the sun, the brilliance of the sun. It was like his whole body was like lightning, and so was Elijah and Moses, and this was the Shekinah which was come down in a cloud. It indicates a very actual reality: living presence of God. By the way, the Bible says you can't see God and live. For you and me, you know what that means? I think if we see God or have an experience of God, we can't live as we live before we saw God, before we met God, and so we see this experience of the Shekinah has come. The Shekinah, the presence of God, we can trace it quickly as we walk through the Scripture.
Not every little event, but the moment of the Shekinah, God coming, God in reality. We go back to Moses there as he led the children of Israel in the wilderness during those 40 years. And what happened? The Shekinah was there in the fire that warmed them, because it's cold in Sinai at night. I've been there. The fire warmed them and the fire guided them. That was the presence of God, the fire of God. The Shekinah was there and then you move on in and you see Moses went up on the mountain and got the law, remember? The first time and the second time when he came back, his face was alive with the reflected Shekinah glory of God, and the people said, "Man, veil your face. We can't face you. It's too much to see and feel the power of God," and his face was veiled. Remember that?
Moses didn't know it at that time. Shekinah. Then there was a tabernacle that was built, specific, detailed descriptions in the Bible, and they would pick it up and move it when the children of Israel, perhaps a million-plus, would be moved around in that wilderness area of Sinai, those 40 years in God's preparation for going in the Holy Land. And then as they move that tabernacle, we know the Shekinah was there, the place, the house of meeting was there. And then you see the Shekinah was once again placed in the temple. Solomon built the temple in the Holy of Holies. The Shekinah, the living presence of God was there and then all of a sudden the presence of God is there, but through the years, the worship of the people, the fear of God began to withdraw from the people.
Let me ask you something. Is God fearful to you? There should be an element of the fear of God. If Shekinah came here, if Jesus walked in this room, we wouldn't stand and shout and give him a standing ovation, ladies and gentlemen. I can promise you that we would fall on our faces and most of us would crawl out of his presence. The presence of the living God reveals everything. The Shekinah was there, but in the temple the worship became confused and distorted and all of a sudden Solomon... remember he took the Queen of Sheba there, and she said, "Oh, what a magnificent place". You see, Solomon now was getting his ego fed through the temple of the living God and then 400 years went by.
Ezekiel chapter number 10. Zeke writes there inspired by God, saying what was happening in the temple, and he talks about wheels and wheels, and he talks about the Shekinah glory was there, and the Shekinah glory went in one part of the temple and the other part of the temple. In other words, you kinda could not remain at the temple. Why? Seventy elders of Israel had gone into Solomon's temple, it had been built and rebuilt, had gone in the temple, and they had put altars, idols named after them. It's like they took stained-glass windows with their picture and put a offering area under it and all around the temple, the walls, there were the pictures of the elders where they're offering for them, under it, all around the temple of the Lord, all around it.
And the Shekinah, the presence of God, could not dwell in a place that become a pagan place, and it pictures there in that passage Shekinah goes around the temple, then the Shekinah goes out the door. Shekinah glory, the presence of God, hovers over the Mount of Olives and then Shekinah is gone. The glory of God is gone, and the word is "Ichabod," the glory has departed. Ichabod. The presence of God has departed. Six hundred years go by. As far as the Bible tells us, no cloud, no presence, no Shekinah, and then those shepherds outside of Bethlehem, the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest and on Earth good will toward men".
The Shekinah returned after 600 years. The next appearance: the Mount of Transfiguration that we're looking at. Here are these guys up there with Jesus, including Moses, Elijah. Now the Shekinah comes and falls on them, the presence of the living God. And then what was the result of this? Read it there in the Scripture. Very, very interesting. As Elijah and Moses were departing, Peter, the Bible says, he didn't know what to say, but he spoke anyway. My version. That's what he said. Boy, I've done that. I don't have anything to say but I wanna say, and he said, "Let's build three tabernacles," three lean-tos, three huts: one for Moses, one for Elijah, and Jesus. We could build one for you, too. I mean, you're right there with them. You're glowing. The Shekinah has fallen on you, as well.
What was Peter saying? He was saying, "It's so great up here, this mountaintop experience with Jesus and Moses and Elijah. Let's stay up here. Let's live up here. I love the emotion, the mountain, the Shekinah, the presence of God. Boy, this is the end of end all. Let's stay on top of the mountain". But then, you know what happened? The cloud, the Shekinah, came closer and closer, and Moses and Elijah was gone, and then they looked up and Jesus stood alone. Jesus stood alone. That's it, ladies and gentlemen. Jesus stands alone as the Son of the living God. Then they spent the night. The Bible says now they went down the mountain.
When he got down the mountain, guess what was happening? There was a lot of people there, a mob, and there was a father there with a boy that... and he runs to Jesus. He falls before Jesus. He said, "Jesus, here is my boy," and the boy was demon-possessed. He has a seizure. The father tells him, "He's had this for years," and said he'd throw himself in the water. He'd throw himself in the fire, he was suicidal, and he was so sick, and he was so demon-possessed, and the father went to Jesus and said, "Jesus, heal my boy. I brought him here for you to heal him. And your apostles had tried".
Remember nine of them were left at the foot of the mountain. Three went up with Jesus, and they tried to heal him, and they couldn't do it. In other words, your press went out and said you were going around and your people were healing people and that was true. The two by two had went out. They'd began to heal people all over the area. They heard Jesus was there. They ran there, this father, in desperation.
Can you imagine the life that he and his family lived with this kind of ailment? Unbelievable. We know people who go through that, with special kind of challenges. Unbelievable, and the father was desperate. He said, "Your PR said that, man, your apostles and you heal people, and they've tried to heal him, and they've been unsuccessful". And Jesus asked the usual questions, "How long has he been like this"? et cetera. And then Jesus looked at the father and said, "If you can believe, all things are possible". You know, if I'd been that dad (I thought about that) I'd say, "Lord, I believe you can do it. Oh, yeah, if all things are possible, all I have to do is have faith. Man, I have faith. I believe".
I think I would have said that probably, but that would not have been totally true. What did that father say to Jesus? He said, "Lord, I believe, I have faith, but I want you to help my unbelief. Your apostles couldn't heal him. I believe you can, but I have faith, but I'm just not sure. I have doubts". Do you have any doubts? Don't worry about your doubts. Doubt your doubts. Be honest with your doubt. That is a wonderful asset we have, because it challenges us to doubt our doubts and go through to faith. The father was honest. "Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief," and Jesus honored that and healed the boy.
And what a celebration it was and then later on, if you read all the text, the apostles ask Jesus, "Why couldn't we heal him? We'd healed other people. We'd been out all over the country. Why couldn't we do it"? And Jesus says, I think in Matthew's account, "This kind," K-I-N-D, "cannot be healed except by prayer and fasting". Prayer and fasting. Oh, it was a deeper kind of healing that was necessary. You see, what is our challenge on this? A lot of us love the top of the mountain: worship, praise, church, read the Bible. We like the mountain, but we go down in the valley, and we don't like to get in the demon-filled valley, do we? The apostles failed in the valley because they hadn't been up on the mountain and those are the mountains Jesus, and I believe the other apostles, too, they were successful because they'd been on the mountain.
It's a difference between worship and work. Some of us, we wanna do work. I mean, if we had a crisis, we can go in there, and we're ready to do something for God, but we try to work without being on the mountain and our work in the valley doesn't work very well because we haven't spent time on the mountain. We spend all of our time on the mountain in praise and prayer and worship and say, "Boy, I have this great feeling," and we don't go down in the valley to do business with the demons that are all a part of our culture and our world, so there has to be balance between worship and work. There has to be balance. We need to go to the mountain so we'll be able to be effective in the valley, and we're effective in the valley because we've been to the mountain. Do you get it?
It's a balanced Christian life. How important that is, the mountain and the valley. We can do business in the valley when we spend time with God on the mountain, and our work in the valley becomes very weak unless we spend time in the mountain. And we can spend our whole time in the mountain and spend our whole time in the mountain and never really take the courage to go down in the valley and make a difference for God and Christ where he's placed us, so it's a matter of faith, having the right object, and then the feelings come.
People run around saying, "Boy, I've got so much faith, Pastor". Faith in what? "Well, I've got faith in life, and I got faith in God, and I got..." Faith in a generalized sense, ladies and gentlemen, doesn't mean zip. Poof. Faith has to have an object. That object needs to be truth and fact and reality of experience and relationships. Here is a little boy. Got out of school, has his backpack on. He walks out to the street. He gets in the middle of the street. Not on the corner, standing on the curb with his backpack, standing there.
Businessman comes out of the building. He walks by, and he said, "Sonny, what are you doing"? He said, "I'm gonna catch the bus". He said, "No, no, no," he said, "you can't catch the bus there". He said, "The bus doesn't stop in the middle of a block". He said, "You gotta walk up there and turn right, cross the street, and go to the bus stop. That's where the bus stops". He said, "No, sir. I've got faith the bus is gonna stop here". The businessman said, "Sonny, listen to me. I'm telling you the bus is not gonna stop there". He said, "I think it will. I got faith it will". The businessman said, "All righted. Arrogant little kid. What does he know"?
In a few minutes here comes the bus chugging down the road. It comes over there and stops at the bus stop, it picks up, and it stops right there in front of the kid. The businessman is stunned. He can't believe it, and the kid puts his pack on. He steps off the curb, he walks up, the bus door opens, he walks up the steps, he turns around, and he said, "Mister, I had faith because... see, the bus driver, he's my daddy". Faith had an object. Therefore faith was confident of what was going to happen. On the mountain our faith is kindled. It's not just faith in faith, but it's faith and the object of the reality of the power of God we find as we walk in Jesus Christ. Therefore the bus is gonna stop. Get on the bus, because the driver of those of us who get on the bus of life is Jesus Christ himself, and he'll give you the ride of a lifetime.