At that time the righteous ones will shine as brightly as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.
Does this mean that there will be a “rapture” of the anointed ones? Many in Christendom believe, according to this teaching, that Christians will be bodily caught up from the earth. Then, they expect that Jesus will visibly return to rule the earth. However, the Bible clearly shows that “the sign of the Son of man” will appear in heaven and that Jesus will come “on the clouds of heaven.” Both of these expressions imply invisibility. Additionally, “flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s Kingdom.” So those who will be taken to heaven will first need to be “changed, in a moment, in the blink of an eye, during the last trumpet.” Therefore, while we do not use the term “rapture” here because of its wrong connotation, the remaining faithful anointed will be gathered together in an instant of time.
Jesus’ ministry was remarkably short. Within the span of three and one half years he trekked the length and breadth of Israel several times. He performed all manner of miracles in public. He preached to the Jews in their synagogues and in the temple courtyard in Jerusalem. He spoke to crowds of thousands, teaching them about the Kingdom of God. But there was something that took place privately —only observed by three of his disciples, which was perhaps the most profound of his entire ministry —the transfiguration.
The brief transfiguration account is found in the 17th chapter of Matthew. It reads: “Six days later Jesus took Peter and James and his brother John along and led them up into a lofty mountain by themselves.And he was transfigured before them; his face shone as the sun, and his outer garments became brilliant as the light. And look! there appeared to them Moses and Elijah conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus: “Lord, it is fine for us to be here. If you wish, I will erect three tents here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, look! a bright cloud overshadowed them, and look! a voice out of the cloud said: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved. Listen to him.” At hearing this, the disciples fell facedown and became very much afraid. Then Jesus came near, and touching them, he said: “Get up. Have no fear.” When they looked up, they saw no one but Jesus himself. As they were descending from the mountain, Jesus commanded them: “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of man is raised up from the dead.””
The prophetic significance of the transfiguration was established six days before, when Jesus said to his gathered disciples: “For the Son of man is to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will repay each one according to his behavior. Truly I say to you that there are some of those standing here who will not taste death at all until first they see the Son of man coming in his Kingdom.”
Specifically, those who were standing there who saw a preview of Jesus coming in his Kingdom were Peter, James and John. It is noteworthy that the three disciples literally saw Jesus in a most glorious state —the glory of his Father, as Jesus said. It is no coincidence that John later saw the same resplendent Christ in vision when he was exiled on the isle of Patmos. John was similarly overawed and fell down at Christ’s feet as a dead man.
Needless to say, all of the chosen ones will see Christ face-to-face in Heaven, but it is doubtful that they will be reduced to a shivering heap when they do. That is because the first resurrection will result in their being made glorious just like him. That is what the new creation is all about. The transfiguration is not a foregleam of their seeing Jesus in Heaven. As Jesus himself said to his disciples, the transfiguration foreshadowed “the Son of man coming in his Kingdom.” His coming in his Kingdom is in relation to those on earth. And that is what the transfiguration signifies —Jesus’ presence among his disciples.
Years after the transfiguration the apostle Peter explained its significance. He wrote: “No, it was not by following artfully contrived false stories that we made known to you the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, but rather, we were eyewitnesses of his magnificence.”
A question Jehovah’s Witnesses would do well to ponder is this: Was Peter an eyewitness to an invisible transfiguration? It’s a silly question, isn’t it? Obviously Peter, James and John saw Jesus in his superhuman glory. And according to the testimony of one of the eyewitnesses the spectacle relates to the parousia of Jesus Christ.
Amazingly, Peter seemed to anticipate the Watchtower’s artfully contrived invisible parousia fable. And the fact that Jesus sternly ordered Peter, James and John not to tell anyone what they had seen until after he was raised from the dead seems to indicate that even anointed witnesses will be in a state of ignorance regarding the significance of the transfiguration until Christ actually comes in his Kingdom.
Here is a better question to consider: Is it possible for humans to see spirit creatures? That is kind of a tricky question. The straightforward answer is no, it is not possible. Paul said of Christ that no man has seen or can see the one who dwells in “unapproachable light.” However, spirits can manifest themselves in ways that are visible. And that is what is implied by the manifestation of Christ.
Paul wrote: “I give you orders to observe the commandment in a spotless and irreprehensible way until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, which the happy and only Potentate will show in its own appointed times. He is the King of those who rule as kings and Lord of those who rule as lords, the one alone having immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see.” —1 Timothy 6:15-16
So, according to Paul the manifestation of Christ is something that will be shown at the appointed time.
The apostle Paul has testified to an encounter he had with Jesus after his resurrection. Paul described it as a bright light that flashed around him —leaving him blinded for three days. The significance of that encounter is that Paul saw Jesus as a superhuman —not in a materialized physical body, as the hundreds of disciples saw Jesus during the forty days after he was resurrected. Paul said that his seeing this manifestation was as if he had been born prematurely. In other words, Saul saw a glimpse of the glory of Christ that the disciples will see when he comes in his Kingdom.
What is the significance of the appearance of Elijah and Moses in the vision of the transfiguration? Moses and Elijah, although not named, are the two symbolic witnesses in Revelation. Of what are they witnesses? Due to their participation in the transfiguration the two witnesses are witnesses of Christ’s manifestation to them —his presence.
Needless to say Jesus’ appearance to the chosen ones will occur beyond the auspices of the Watchtower. But no doubt the Devil will keep the invisible parousia scam going then, until the manifestation of Christ’s presence brings the man of lawlessness to nothing. But before his demise the deception will be taken up to the next level, so-to-speak. Then the deceivers will proclaim that the Christ is here and there —in the inner chambers —in the wilderness, etc.
The testimony of the true witnesses of Christ will result in their being thrown from the synagogue, which are symbolic of congregations. Ultimately they will be killed for witnessing about Christ’s magnificent presence.
The Watchtower has laid the groundwork, that much is true. But they are not going to finish it. That will be left to those who see Jesus coming in his Kingdom. Their seeing his glory will result in their shining as brightly as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.
Yes, indeed, there are exciting times ahead!