Matt. 17:1-9; Mark 9: 2-10 and Luke 9: 28-36; We know these verses as the “Transfiguration” of Jesus, Moses and Elijah the prophet. There are those who say the transfiguration is proof Moses and Elijah are in heaven today. Yet, reading these verses in their full context and letting the Bible interpret the Bible we clearly see both Moses and Elijah are currently dead and buried and the transfiguration was a vision of the Kingdom of God to come.
Matthew 17:9 Jesus Himself states this was a VISION. Jesus sets the stage for the vision Peter, James and John were to see in Matt. 16: 27-28. Jesus tells the three disciples that He will come in glory and some will not taste death before they witness it. Six days later Jesus took the three disciples up to the mountain to “witness” what it will be like in the Kingdom. Jesus gave them a glimpse of His glory and “a voice from heaven” spoke and let them know Jesus is His son. Jesus then told them to not tell anyone until the son of man had risen from the dead (Matt. 17:1-9 summarized). Jesus showed them who He truly is and God sent word Jesus is His son, the son of God. This would have been a tremendous faith booster for the three disciples as the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus was soon to come.
What about Moses and Elijah? Does the transfiguration not picture them alive in heaven? No, it was a vision depicting what they will be like in their glory at the return of Jesus and the resurrection of the dead in the future. We know Moses is dead and buried (Deut. 34:5-6), the resurrection has not happened yet (I Cor. 15:52-53 and I Thes. 4: 16-17 have not yet been fulfilled- it is still in the future), the faithful “having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect” (Heb. 11:39-40). Jesus said “no man has ascended to heaven…” (John3:13), not even King David is in heaven (Acts 2:34), all humans will die (Heb. 11:13 and I Cor. 15:22-23). The resurrection of the saints and the Godly will occur in Rev. 20:4-5. Elijah and Moses will be a part of this first resurrection and the second death will have no power over them.
We have seen how Jesus gave Peter, James and John a VISION of what the future will be like for those who are glorified with God at the return of Jesus. Moses and Elijah are still dead and awaiting their resurrection along with all of God’s saints.
For more information on the subject of life after death see CSCOG7 – Heaven, CSCOG7 – Immortal Soul and CSCOG7 – Elijah and the Fiery Chariot to Heaven.