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10 FEBRUARY 1991

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References:

2 Kings 2:1-14
Mark 9:2-4
2 Corinthians 3:17-18

Preparation Verses: (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)

17. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

18. But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

If we too can be transfigured, as was Jesus, then it means that we will be changed in both body and substance.

I suppose that we all know the story of Jesus' transfiguration upon the mountain, so let's look at this transfiguration as it relates to each of us and what we must do on our own part.

Let's first review what we are told of Jesus' transfiguration, as recorded in Mark 9:2-4:

2. And six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up to a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them;

3. and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them.

4. And Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus.

These apostles were given the rare opportunity to see into the true kingdom of heaven, if only briefly; and the wonder of it all overwhelmed them for a while, but it had a lasting effect upon them.

Our preparation verses for this morning, 2 Corinthians 3:17-18, tell us of a partial way we too can see this same transformation.

Listen again to these verses:

17. Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

18. But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

What does it mean that the Lord is the Spirit?

We usually consider that a reference to the Lord refers to Jesus Christ, and it does; but the person Jesus Christ is not with us.

It is the person of the Holy Spirit that dwells with us, and even more than with us; He dwells within us, that is, if we truly believe.

Thus, if we are truly born again and truly desire to be conformed and transformed into the image of Jesus Christ, then the power of the Holy Spirit will allow us to begin to see this transfiguration.

As we more and more allow ourselves to be controlled by the promptings of the Holy Spirit, the more and more we begin to see the glory of God and the changes in our lives.

We feel the hardness in our worldly heart softening.

We feel the Lord's unconditional love and compassion growing within us.

We feel the pain and suffering of every other person, all the animals, and even the whole of creation, and we have a tremendous inner desire to do everything we can to end it, and bring them peace.

In essence we begin to see Jesus in ourselves, as looking in a mirror, and in the faces and lives of other true believers; for the Holy Spirit within us reflects His glory outwardly.

The prophets Elijah and Elisha both experienced this transformation during their time upon this earth.

Let's take a closer look at one portion of their lives, as recorded in 2 Kings 2:1-14, and seek in our heart to be transformed as they were:

1. And it came about when the Lord was about to take up Elijah by a whirlwind to heaven, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.

2. And Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here please, for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel." But Elisha said, "As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you." So they went down to Bethel.

3. Then the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, "Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?" And he said, "Yes, I know; be still."

4. And Elijah said to him, "Elisha, please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Jericho." But he said, "As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you." So they came to Jericho.

5. And the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho approached Elisha and said to him, "Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?" And he answered, "Yes, I know; be still."

6. Then Elijah said to him, "Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan." And he said, "As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you." So the two of them went on.

Is our obedience to the Lord such that others will follow our lead, as Elisha is following Elijah's lead even when others try to discourage them?

Do we see others who so reflect the Lord in their lives that we just have to follow their lead, even when others try to discourage us?

Or do we just go along with the crowd?

The sons of the prophets most definitely knew the Lord their God, but they were somewhat weak in their faith or they too would have followed along instead of trying to discourage Elisha.

Elisha saw the transformation in Elijah and he wanted every last minute of it and even more, as we shall see.

What Elijah implies every time he tells Elisha to stay, is: "Are you sure you are willing to take on the responsibility that I have taken upon myself from the Lord?"

And Elisha's response is in the affirmative.

It doesn't seem to have been that way with the sons of the prophets, yet they were ever so much more faithful than the people of Israel.

What about us?

Where do we fit in?

Are we also candidates for transfiguration?

Are you ready to take a stand for Jesus Christ, and if so, where?

Let's listen further:

7. Now fifty men of the sons of the prophets went and stood opposite them at a distance, while the two of them stood by the Jordan.

8. And Elijah took his mantle and folded it together and struck the waters, and they were divided here and there, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground.

Sometimes we are even afraid to get our feet wet.

We won't even test the waters.

We won't even step out in faith.

We just stand back at a distance and let someone else go forth.

This is not the way to see the glory of the Lord.

This is not the way to be transformed.

Elisha is moving closer and closer to experiencing his own transfiguration even though his will not be complete until after his death, unlike that which shortly awaits his master, Elijah.

Let's return to our Scriptures and hear what happens next:

9. Now it came about when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, "Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you." And Elisha said, "Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me."

10. And he said, "You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so."

Sometimes we want things from the Lord that we cannot handle, and sometimes we offer the responsibility of being Godly leaders to others before they are either fully willing or able to take upon themselves this transforming character.

So Elijah wisely weighs out what Elisha is asking for.

He knows he is loyal and he follows the leading of the Lord when others don't seem to; but to truly know what is in the heart, we must rely upon God.

And that is what Elijah does.

If the Lord allows Elisha to see him departing into heaven, then He will also entrust him with the responsibility he is asking for; but if not, then Elisha will not receive his request because he is not ready to receive it.

If we are responsible with the little things, we will receive a slight taste of transformation.

And we may even be given something more important to do; not necessarily what we would consider important, but what is important to the Lord.

And if we are obedient with this too, then we become further transformed.

What is happening to us?

What is happening to Elisha? Let's see:

11. Then it came about as they were going along and talking, that behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven.

12. And Elisha saw it and cried out, "My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!" And he saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

13. He also took up the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and returned and stood by the bank of the Jordan.

14. And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and struck the waters and said, "Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?" And when he also had struck the waters, they were divided here and there; and Elisha crossed over.

Elisha had asked for something that even Elijah could not grant; but upon the conditions that Elijah set forth, Elisha did indeed see Elijah go into heaven.

Elisha was more interested in being with his master than he was in receiving his authority; thus the remorse expressed verbally and physically by the tearing of his garments.

But now faced with the loss of Elijah, he returns back toward Israel with Elijah's mantle.

There is an interesting side note to this translation of Elijah and transformation of Elisha. No place in Israel was found worthy enough for the Lord to come down to the earth to take up Elijah. He had to go beyond the Jordan.

And as Elisha approaches the Jordan and cries out to the Lord as he strikes the waters, he is searching for the answer: "Is Elijah still with us upon the earth, or has he really gone to be with You?"

With the separation of the waters, Elisha knows that he has been given double the powers of Elijah, and with it, the responsibility.

Elisha had been transformed!

So could have been the sons of the prophets, but they just stayed behind.

And so can we be transformed, if we desire to be.

When you get right down to it, we really have only two choices: We can perish without Jesus Christ, or we can be transfigured by Him.

Let's take a brief look at what Paul tells the Corinthian Church in 2 Corinthians 4:1-2:

1. Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart,

2. but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

As a Christian community, part of our problem is that we lose heart.

We lose heart because we want to go along with the rest of the world and be accepted by them.

And we lose heart because we think God doesn't care.

God does care!

Our problem is that we fail to see beyond the immediate situation to the real cause of our problems.

If we don't renounce the ungodly things from our past or those things going on around us, we cannot be transformed.

If we tolerate or even participate in the craftiness of the devil, and the pain and suffering and death that is being inflicted upon million of human beings and billions of animals every year, we create a further separation from God.

If we don't put in the effort to learn the word of God so that we can make a stand against its adulteration, we may find that we are also the ones who are helping to corrupt His word.

Some people say that they can't understand the Bible, or they question why God does or allows some of the things that occurred.

The same type of comments must have been present in Paul's day, for he addresses them in the next two verses:

3. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,

4. in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

Satan doesn't want us to be transfigured into our imperishable bodies when we die, nor does he want us to be transformed into the image of Christ now.

He tries to blind us to the truth, and most of the world seems to go along with him; unfortunately, so do most members of the Church.

But so that none of us lose our faith, listen to the transforming words of Paul, as we read on:

5. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake.

6. For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Jesus Christ sheds His light upon everything that went before Him and everything that came after Him and even that will come.

We have to bond ourselves to Him so that His light will shine in our heart.

We are not to take our eyes off the glory that shines forth from Him, for it is the light of the knowledge of the truth that begins our transformation; not yet perfected in us, but there nevertheless.

Listen to what we are told next:

7. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves;

8. we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;

9. persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

10. always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

If this is true in our life, then we have been transformed.

And the more of this transformation we allow to occur within us, the more we are transfigured into the image of God.

I truly pray that we all will shine with the glory of God, not only among ourselves, but to a world that is desperately in need of this transfiguration.