2 Peter 1: A glimpse of the age to come!

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Bible Study from 2 Peter 1:15-21

A glimpse of the age to come!

by I Gordon


In the last study that we looked at in second Peter, we examined the importance of remembering, and being reminded of, the truth. I titled that study, 'don't forget to remember!' This study will carry on from where that one left off and we will look at verses fifteen to twenty one. In many ways this is still about remembering... that is, remembering what is still to come! In these verses, Peter is recalling his experience on the mount of transfiguration, where he received a glimpse of the kingdom and the age to come! Let's have a look...

This isn't some old wives tale!

2nd Peter 1:15-18 'And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things. We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.' We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.'

In the two verses above, we see that Peter was eager and diligent to make sure that his audience remember the key aspects of the faith of which he wrote. We also see the motivation that made him so diligent in this for he says above that he didn't follow cleverly invented stories, but was an eyewitness to the power, glory and majesty of Jesus Christ! 'This isn't a myth  [1]  or a game of Chinese whispers' Peter is saying. 'This isn't some old wives tale passed down from your grandmother's cousin's aunty.' 'I was there! I was on the mountain... I saw with my own two eyes a preview of the coming Kingdom!' 'I heard the Father speaking to Jesus, His son! I heard it, I saw it... Believe it!'

So it is interesting that Peter comes back to this time with Jesus to prove the reality of His message. To Peter, this was a very important experience that He had. So let's familiarise ourselves with exactly what happened up there upon that mountain!

Talk about a mountain top experience!

Matt 17:1 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.

Now, you've probably heard people speak of a 'mountain top experience.' You know, the type of wonderful spiritual experience that God may give from time to time. They kind of stand out as opposed to the many times we spend wandering around down in the valleys! Well, Peter, James and John, are about to get one very real, very special, 'mountain top experience'. Literally, and figuratively! You see, out of the twelve disciples, Jesus choose these three  [2]  , the inner group of those closest to Him, to give them something more than they had bargained for! Here was a preview of a coming attraction that was definitely worth seeing!  [3] 

Matt 17:2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.

'Um, Jesus? Jesus is that you? What have you done with Jesus?' You can imagine the surprise of the disciples... The humble ex-carpenter whom they had followed and lived with constantly for the last three years is very radically changed before them. And we are not talking extreme makeovers here... no, we're talking 'metamorphosis'!  [4]  Jesus was changed in their very presence to show them who He really is... the power, the beauty, the glory of the Lord of Lords, and the King of Kings! This is the Jesus that John would see again many years later when he recorded what he saw in Revelation 1:14-16

 'His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.' 

What the disciples saw that day on the mountain, and what John would again see in the Revelation passage above, is Jesus as He will be in His Kingdom reign on earth.

Matt 17:3-4 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, 'Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters - one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.'

We see from the above passage that Jesus was not alone however. Two of the great saints from the Old Testament appeared with Him - Elijah and Moses. And friend Peter is getting all excited! 'It is good for us to be here' he says... declaring one of the better understatements in the Bible! How great it will be for all those who get to participate in the coming Kingdom! The Bible Knowledge Commentary explains the significance of this well -

 'Why were Moses and Elijah, of all Old Testament people, present on this occasion? Perhaps these two men and the disciples suggest all the categories of people who will be in Jesus' coming kingdom. The disciples represent individuals who will be present in physical bodies. Moses represents saved individuals who have died or will die. Elijah represents saved individuals who will not experience death, but will be caught up to heaven alive (1 Thes. 4:17). These three groups will be present when Christ institutes His kingdom on earth. Furthermore the Lord will be in His glory as He was at the transfiguration, and the kingdom will take place on earth, as this obviously did. The disciples were thus enjoying a foretaste of the kingdom the Lord promised (Matt. 16:28). Peter seemed to sense the significance of the event for he suggested that he erect three shelters, for Jesus, Moses, and . . . Elijah. He saw in this event the fulfillment of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles which looked two ways: backward to the wanderings in the wilderness for 40 years, and forward to Israel's full enjoyment of God's blessings when He would gather His people to the land. Peter was correct in his understanding of what was taking place (he saw the kingdom) but he was wrong in his timing.' 

 Moses and Elijah are pretty cool, but don't lose your focus! 

Matt 17: 5-8 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, 'This is my Son , whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!' When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. 'Get up,' he said. 'Don't be afraid.' When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

There are a lot of exciting things to come for the Christian and it is easy to lose focus and the main point. Here we see Peter very excited by the fact that Moses and Elijah are around, but I find it interesting that God the Father cuts Peter off mid-sentence and changes his focus! While it is fantastic that we will one day 'sit down and recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of God', it is the Lord Jesus Christ that should be our focus and fill our gaze. Peter was starting to get off-track and so we read above that 'when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.' The whole point about the return of Jesus and the establishment of His Kingdom is that

 'the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.' Rev 21:3 

The light that shines in a dark place.

2 Peter 1:19-20 And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

After recalling the glories of his experience with Jesus on the mountain, Peter says something that we should pay attention to. (Not that we shouldn't pay attention to other things that he says!) He tells us to pay attention to the word of the prophets 'made more sure'. What do you think that is? Because whatever it is, it gives us light while we travel through a dark place. He also tells us to do this up until the 'day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts'. And, once again, what do you think that is?

So, have you got your answers? What is it that makes the word of the prophets 'more sure' and gives light to our path in this dark world? Well, in a sense all prophecy that God has declared gives light to our path because it gives us understanding as to what is happening in our world  [5]  , and why. But it is made 'more sure' when we are fortunate enough to be the ones that see the fulfilment, or partial fulfilment of the prophecy. You see, here is Peter. For hundreds of years the Hebrew prophets had spoken of the Messiah, His Kingdom, and the glory of His reign. But Peter had been given a glimpse of it's fulfilment! To him, it was more than just a prophecy made hundreds of years before... to Him it was a certainty! He had seen the Kingdom and the King in His majesty! Now, this generation that we live in has also seen fulfilment, or the fulfilling, of several key prophecies. Keep your eyes on them!  [6]  They are a light in this dark world, and 'you do well to pay attention to them' according to Peter.

 ...until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your heart! 

And finally, for how long should we pay attention to the prophetic scriptures and their fulfilment? Well, it is until the day dawns... the return of Jesus. And at that time, the morning star will arise within your hearts  [7]  . John Piper wrote well concerning this passage '  the light will rise over the world and the light will rise in our hearts. There will be glory without and glory within.' 

What a day that will be! The Apostle John spoke of this as well when he wrote:  'Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.' (1 John 3:2-3) 

In like manner, the Apostle Paul wrote:  'Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.' (Col 3:2-4) 

There will be glory without in the coming of the Lord Jesus, and glory within as we are changed by seeing Him as He really is!

2 Pet 1:21 'Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.'

Finally, Peter reminds us once again of how certain these things are! The prophecies of Christ's coming and future Kingdom weren't just invented by the mind of man. It was the Holy Spirit who spoke through these men and He can be trusted! God said it so believe it!

So may you have confidence in the promises of God for what is still to come... May it be for you, a light for your path as you walk through these dark times. And may it generate in you a hope that no man or circumstance can take away.

Maranatha. Come Lord Jesus!

[1] ↩  A while back I spent quite a bit of time emailing back and forth with a Jewish man who didn't believe in the Lord Jesus. In fact, he didn't even believe that Jesus even existed. He preferred to believe that He was just a myth, made up by fraudsters. This was despite the fact that even Jewish historians such as Josephus talk about Him. Anyway, I like the following quote by Albert Einstein. Einstein was a Jew and was not a Christian. Yet he still said 'As a child, I received instruction in both the Bible and the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene. No one can read the gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.'

[2] ↩  The Bible says that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every matter should be established. (Matt 18:16). I guess that is one of the reasons Jesus brought three disciples up with Him so that they could see Him transformed. It is also worthy of note that it was those who were the closest to Him that got to see this happen. It should encourage and motivate us to desire to walk closely with the Lord.

[3] ↩  When you go to the movies, they always have the previews of coming attractions. It's a sneak preview used to wet your appetite before they actually come out. Well, this was definitely a sneak preview of the coming Kingdom of the Lord Jesus when He shall reign in glory from Jerusalem. And unlike the previews of coming movies, which show you the best bits and then the real thing is actually quite lame, the coming Kingdom is going to be even better than just the little glimpse that these three disciples got!

[4] ↩  I read that the word 'transfigured' in this passage is the Greek word 'metamorphoo' from which we derive the word 'metamorphosis'. If you were a kid in the seventies and early eighties like me, then you'll no doubt remember that a 'metamorphosis' is what happened to David Banner. David was a normal type of guy who only had one request... He used to tell everyone 'don't make me angry... you won't like me when I'm angry.' And yet, despite his request, every single week someone would go and make him angry. No wonder he was frustrated! And a metamorphosis would take place and the quiet shy David Banner would change into 'The Incredible Hulk!' And then those that made him angry in the first place were in trouble, but that's another story!

[5] ↩  Imagine for a sec that God has given no prophecies concerning the future. Imagine that you had no real idea of what was to come, or why the world seems to be on a downward spiral morally. That would be darkness. But the word of God, through Bible prophecy, is a light which shines to give understanding of what is happening in the world.

[6] ↩  I have listed some of these on my website. One page you could look at is here:

[7] ↩  The morning star is the last name or title of Jesus given in the book of Revelation - He said  'I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.' (Rev 22:16)