Once again this has been an interesting exercise. The fourteen questions I have received so far are very broad and diverse covering a wide range of issues and topics. I joked last year about never doing this again, but it has actually proved to be a fun and interesting challenge. We will just have to wait and see if we do it again. Thank you to all of you who submitted questions. Always remember everything I say must be tested and weighed not against popular opinion or even your opinion but against the Word of God. Which brings us to the questions. Tonight I am going to focus on six of the questions that were more specific to the OT or NT. In two weeks we will see how many of the remaining questions I can answer. One of them may be just too big for even one sermon.
Spiritual mountain tops often give us a refreshing and much needed vision or glimpse of something about God, but He doesn’t let us live there for long. Remember how I began my sermon last week saying that Phama and I were anticipating a mountain top experience this next week in Key West for our son Todd’s wedding. Well sometimes our mountain tops don’t live up to our expectations even before we get there. That’s certainly true for Todd and Emma. They got bad news from an immigration lawyer on Tuesday and they have to postpone their wedding 30 to 40 days. So we are about to embark on the most exotic and expensive Woodyard family vacation we have every taken. Our dreams and plans and expectations don’t always go as we hope do they? Life is full of twists and turns and ups and downs. Even our best plans go awry. Welcome back to reality, to life in the valley. Jesus said, “In this life you will have affliction and trouble.” In this life we have defeats, setbacks, conflicts, trials, dreams crushed, hopes dashed, faith shattered. How are we to cope? How do we go from mountains to Mondays? Moses came down from his mountain top experience on Mt. Sinai to walk right into the face of idolatry and rebellion. Elijah came down from his mountain top to confront the paganism of Ahab and Jezebel.
Today is Veteran’s Day or as it used to be called, Armistice Day. In British commonwealth countries and France it’s known as Remembrance Day or Poppy Day. We thank God today for the service and the sacrifice of 24.5 million veterans in America. Many of you know the history of Veteran’s Day, but let me briefly recount it by way of introducing our topic this evening. WWI, known as the Great War or the War to End all Wars, ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 when an armistice agreement was signed by German and Allied leaders in a railway carriage in the Compiègne (com-pin-yea) forest in France. At that moment all became quiet on the Western Front. One year later President Woodrow Wilson signed a declaration that a moment of silence be observed on what was called Armistice Day. Seven years later in 1926 Congress passed a resolution for the annual observance of Armistice Day. And twelve years after that in 1938 it became a national holiday. Finally in 1954 President Eisenhower changed the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. The Unknown Soldier tomb in Arlington National Cemetery holds the body of an unknown soldier who was a causality of WWI. He was laid to rest on Nov. 11, 1921. Since then other unknown soldiers have been laid to rest there and it is now a tradition that the President lays a wreath on the tomb every Nov. 11, as President Obama did today. On Veteran’s Day we give thanks and show appreciation to those who served and sacrificed to protect our freedoms. As our freedoms erode in this country all the more reason to remember and give thanks for what we have had for so long, and the price that was paid to gain and secure our freedoms. When someone gives you a gift it is good to give back thanks.
Mountain top experiences are wonderful, aren’t they? Most of us have had one or more moments that are just glorious. You can think of a time and a place where you were overwhelmed with happiness, joy, excitement. A honeymoon, a vacation, a success or accomplishment, a recognition, a victory, some rich blessing. This morning we come to a mountain top experience called the Mt. of Transfiguration. Most likely this is Mt. Herman which is very near Caesarea Philippi. Mt. Hermon is the very northern most point of Israel on the Syrian border and at 9,232 feet it’s the highest point in Israel. This strange event raises lots of questions, good questions that helps us dig into the text. Why just these three disciples? Why Moses and Elijah? Why not Abraham or David? Why this vision? What’s the point? Why yet again another command to silence? If He didn’t want them to say a word until after the resurrection, then why show them now?
On the last Sunday of February we embarked on a study of the Minor Prophets, meaning the last twelve short books of the OT. They are minor in length not in importance or inspiration. They are God’s Word spoken by men carried along by the Holy Spirit. Tonight I would like to wrap up our study of the Minor Prophets with a summary of what we should take away from our time studying the Major Points from the Minor Prophets.
Last week we heard Peter’s wonderful confession about Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And then we heard Jesus’ reply, “He strictly charged them to tell no one about him.” Why in the world would Jesus tell someone who had just confessed who He truly was, to tell no one else? Remember the blind man. Jesus said this because their eye sight had only been restored part way. They saw the Messiah but only like the man who saw men like trees walking. The disciples only thought they truly saw Jesus and knew who He was, but it immediately becomes clear they didn’t have a clue. One minute Peter was giving a marvelous confession of who Christ was and the next minute Christ was rebuking Peter and calling him Satan. What’s going on here? Our text tells us. Jesus was about to open their eyes the rest of the way and they were totally unprepared for what they saw. They probably wish they had stayed blind.