“While He thus spoke, there came a cloud and overshadowed them—and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And, there came a Voice out of the cloud, saying ‘This is My Beloved Son; hear Him’.”
Only those who walk in intimacy with Him will see it.
After the Babylonians destroyed the Solomon’s Temple in 586 B.C., God’s “Shekinah Glory”—which was represented by a luminous cloud hovering over the altar in the place of worship and lit up the room—never returned. Neither one of the temples built by Zerubbabel (in 516 B.C.) and Herod (A.D. 64) saw this Divine manifestation; neither was the Ark of the Covenant present or any of Solomon’s 10 lampstands in these latter two temples.
Thus, Peter, James and John’s experience on what is called “The Mount of Transfiguration” was definitely a one-of-a-kind experience for them. Their original purpose in going there was to pray (v.28); yet, before their time there was finished they’d witness things they’d never seen before.
Was it an accident that the Lord God revealed His Glory to them during a prayer meeting? And, is it a wonder that they likely missed seeing Jesus’ “countenance changed and His clothes become white and shining while talking with Moses and Elijah” because they were asleep (vv.29-31)?
Does not the same still occur today, Pilgrim?
Why were they so sleepy when they arrived at the place of prayer—both there and in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mt. 26:40-45)? Was it because of the long, hard hike up to the top of the Mt. of Transfiguration and the cooler air that lulled them to sleep, even as their grief, the cool night air and the late hour did so in Gethsemane?
We don’t know; but we do know this:
It was only “when they awoke that they saw His Glory” (Lk. 9:32b). Peter, true-to-form, immediately said “Let’s pitch three tents here, Lord—one for You, one for Moses and one for Elijah!” (v.33). He wanted to “capture the moment” and stay there instead of returning down to the grind and grime in the valley—not “realizing how that came across” (v.33b).
But, while he was speaking, “there came a cloud and overshadowed them” and from within that cloud “a Voice saying, ‘This My Beloved Son; hear Him.” The Greek word “episkiazo” is used here for “overshadow” and means “to cast a shade upon, envelope with brilliance, etc.” and is the very same word used for the Holy Spirit’s miraculous work in Mary (Lk. 1:35).
Simply put, this was a return of God’s Shekinah Glory in a most special way. And, only those who walked with intimacy with the Lord experienced it. The same is true for us, Pilgrim. Unless we “hunger and thirst after His Righteousness, we won’t be filled” (Mt. 5:6). And, unless we’re becoming “pure in heart” through a life of holiness and surrender we won’t “see God” (Mt. 5:8). The question is, “How badly do you want to enter into His Glory??”