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The Secret Codes in Matthew: Examining Israel’s Messiah, Part 12: Matthew 16:21-17:9, by Kevin M. Williams

Here were two of the Bible’s greatest personalities—now in their glorified form—Moses and Elijah. In their midst was Yeshua, “coming into his kingdom.”

The Torah instructs us, as Paul reiterates (2Cor 13:1), “on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed” (Deuteronomy 19:5). What better witnesses could there be to confirm the Messiah than Moses and Elijah, the very embodiment of both the Law and the Prophets?

And Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” (Matthew 17:4).

Whatever concerns Peter may have had six days earlier they were completely overshadowed by what he beheld now. Perhaps by building tabernacles they would be inclined to remain so that the rest of Israel might come to witness this fulfillment of Scripture and the confirmation of the promised Messiah.

It is also possible that Peter believed that this was the end of the age, and that the olam habah, (the world to come), had arrived. If so, lodging would be needed.

Yet something  even more awesome was coming:

While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold, a voice out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:5).

The third witness, the Father in heaven, adds His confirmation. Moses, Elijah, and Yahweh—the Torah, the Prophets, and the Creator—all bore witness before these elect disciples of the Messiah. There could be no doubt remaining in the minds of Peter, James, and John.

And when the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were much afraid. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one, except Jesus Himself alone (Matthew 17:5-8).

Knowing the commandment that no one could see God or else he would die (Exodus 33:20), the disciples were understandably afraid. Yet there are none in the biblical accounts who were not filled with trembling when in the presence of the Lord of the universe, let alone amidst such an august tribunal.

And as they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead” (Matthew 17:9).

Yeshua wants this news contained. Who among us does not want their exploits recognized by others so they can further their agenda and their reputation? Not so with Yeshua. Still, His eyes were set on the greater, longer-term purposes of the Almighty. What could Peter, James, and John do? Obey the voice that told them to, “listen to Him.”


In part 13, we shall find Yeshua and the disciples coming nearer to the execution and how He prepares them for the inevitable.


1 Deuteronomy Rabbah II:10


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Category: Biblical Studies, Pneuma Review, Winter 2004

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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