Today’s text from Exodus describes the giving of the law in an act of direct revelation (Ex. 24:12) but it also hints at the incompleteness of these “tablets of stone” and the need for ongoing instruction through prophecy (c.f. Ex. 24:18). In both the invitation to Moses to come into the cloud and Jesus’ command to his disciples to tell no one what they saw during his transfiguration, God is saying, “There is still more to come. I haven’t told you everything yet.”
Exodus and Matthew are both trying to assure their readers of the truth of their story as attested to by the signs and wonders described. The “devouring fire” that the Israelites saw atop Mt. Sinai, Jesus’ transfigured face and clothes, and the bright cloud with the booming “Voice of God” all assured readers that what is being described are not “cleverly devised myths” (c.f. 2 Pet. 1:16) but true and credible accounts. In our own day, while we should take seriously Peter’s claim to being an eyewitness (2 Pet. 1:16 & 18), it’s important to remember that the the truth is not set in stone, but rises continually in our hearts.
Events like the Transfiguration accurately reveal Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, but they are the beginning of the story, not the end of it. There is always more truth to come. Furthermore, we are not called to be spiritual gawkers, craning our necks to see the latest signs and wonders. Instead, we are to “get up and not be afraid” (Matt. 17:7) because these signs and wonders confirm the prophetic message that we can imitate God in his justice, mercy, compassion, forbearance, and kindness (2 Pet. 1:19).
Preached by the Rev. Jake Dell on February 26, 2017 at Holy Trinity Church Inwood.