The Old Testament lesson Transfiguration Day (Exodus 24:8-18) takes us up the mountain with Moses, Joshua, Nadab and Abihu and seventy of the elders of Israel. They saw God walking on a clear pavement of blue sapphire stone, like the very sky itself. It is noted that God did not lay a hand on the delegation of leaders. In celebration of seeing God, and coming out alive, they “ate and drank.”
Perhaps they only went up to the base, because Moses and Joshua continue up into the mountain where God intended to give Moses the tablets of stone. For six days Moses sat in cloud cover surrounded by the raging fire of the Lord’s glory. On seventh day God spoke to Moses, giving him details concerning worship (Chaps. 25-31). Moses stayed for 40 days. It was during this time that people below talked Aaron into building them a “golden calf.” The Hebrew says it was “cast metal.”
Over a millennium later God again appeared in glory on a high mountain. This time the delegation was made up of Jesus and three of his disciples, Peter, James and John. There Jesus was transfigured, “his face shone like the sun and his clothes as white as light.” Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared talking with the Jesus. As Peter was babbling on about commemorating the event, a bright cloud overshadowed the group and a voice said, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.” Suddenly, all the saw was “Jesus only,” looking very much the same as when they climbed the mountain.
The way ahead would not be brightness and glory. The Father’s voice would not be heard again. Jesus would go on to Jerusalem and the dark afternoon of the cross.
So we enter lent on Wednesday. We walk through the shadow of the valley of death waiting for that moment when we say, “Alleluia! He is risen! His is risen indeed Alleluia!”