In the question of what happens when we die and where all the dead are, one can also turn to the Biblical figures who died in the past. We can then find out what happened to them and what else is written about them. Regarding the state of the dead, our magazine in the 20th century looked at Moses and Eliah, among others.
Moses and Elijah at the Transfiguration
“Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (Mt 16:28 AV)
“1 And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, 2 And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. 4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. 7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. 8 And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. 9 And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.” (Mt 17:1-9 AV)
In fulfilment of Matt. 16:28, our Saviour, as recorded in Matt. 17:1-9, took Peter, James and John into a high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them. On this occasion Moses and Elias appeared unto them and spoke with Jesus. This incident has been thought by many earnest Christians to be a certain indication that Moses and Elias were not really asleep, as the Scriptures teach to be the state of the dead; for, if they were asleep, how could they take part in the conversation? is the question that rises to the mind.
The answer is found in the words of Jesus in verse 9. He charged Peter, James and John, saying,
“Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of Man be risen again from the dead.”
It was a vision, not a real visitation from Moses and Elias, that they saw. Jesus was a real person; Peter, James and John were real persons; Moses and Elias on the mount were appearances, but not substantial persons. Visions in which the prophets have themselves borne’ a part are by no means uncommon in the Scriptures, the other participants in such visions sometimes being figurative beasts or creatures, impossible in a real or natural sense, but emblematic of great realities to be accomplished.
John on the isle of Patmos was himself an actor in some of the visions he describes. — Rev. 4:6-8; 5:1-9; 6:1,3,5,7 ; 10:8-10; 13:1,2,5,6.
Having the express word of the Lord that this occurrence was a vision, it is clear that there is no conflict between it and the plain statements of Scripture, which show that the dead are really dead, that they know not anything, and must sleep until the resurrection.
Peter, one of the eyewitnesses of the vision, described it as a vision of the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of his majesty. He also said that the effect of this vision, and of hearing the voice from heaven, was to make the word of prophecy “more sure,” so that God’s people might have implicit confidence in all the prophecies of the coming Kingdom and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. — 2 Pet. 1:16-19; R.V.
“16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18 we heard this voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
19 And we have the prophetic word made more sure. You will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” (2Pe 1:16-19 RSV)
– The New Covenant Advocate June 1909 p. 41
The Dead — Where Are They? 16 Elijah taken up to Heaven
- Matthew 17:1-9 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Transfiguration Vision
- Matthew 17:10-13 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Elijah Has Already Come
- Matthew 17 Calvin’s view on the days of spectatorship
- Today’s thought “Do you believe this?” (April 18)
- How should we worship God? #13 Transfiguration
- Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
- Matthew 17 – The Mount of Transfiguration
- Matthew 17:1-8 The Terrifying Transfiguration
- TLIC Daily. Day 138. May 18: Transfigured.
- Elijah and Moses — Matthew 17:1–8
- Peter and John — Matthew 17:1-13
- The Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36)
- The Transfiguration of Christ
- June 6, 2018 – Class: Matthew 17
- Mark 9- The Transfiguration
- Moses and Elijah on Mount Sinai and Mount Herman
- In Transmutation, Transformation and Transfiguration the writer aks: Explain to me why there must be a conclusion, explain to me why there must be a right answer. Justify your answer, but does not provide a possibility to give answers.
- Tip of the Day, September 19 Lessons of the Transfiguration
- Transfiguration – Divinization and the Transmigration of Souls
- Keep Striving
- Christ’s Transfiguration and Spiritual Desolation
- The Promise of the Transfiguration