ELIAS SHALL FIRST COME
How This Important Prophecy Stands Related to the Second Advent--A Partial and Typical Fulfilment in John the Baptist--The Real Fulfilment --The Vision on the Holy Mount--Remarkable Correspondencies between Elijah, the Type and the Antitypical Elijah--The Time is at Hand--The Outlook--Elijah's Successor, Elisha.
"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest [i.e., or else] I come and smite the earth with a curse." Mal. 4:5,6
IN considering the evidences of the time being at hand for the establishment of Messiah's Kingdom in the earth, this prophecy, showing the priority of Elijah's coming, must not be overlooked.
The expression of our text is peculiar. The thought seems to be that Elijah's work will be to turn (i.e., convert) parents to a humble, childlike condition, and, after making them teachable as little children, to turn their hearts from error, sin and unfaithfulness, and lead them back into harmony with their "fathers"--a name given by Hebrews to their faithful patriarchs and prophets.
Malachi's prophecy, the last message sent by Jehovah to Israel, seems to have deeply impressed them--especially the last two chapters, which particularly refer to Messiah's coming, and to the special trials which the day of the Lord's presence would bring with it. (See Mal. 3:1-3,13-18; 4:1-6.) Gathering from this that the testing would be peculiar, they took comfort from the last verses quoted above, which [B250] promised that Elijah the prophet, who had once converted the entire nation from the worship of Baal back to the worship of God, would come again to prepare them, before this severe testing time which Messiah's coming would bring.
This prophecy was not fulfilled at the first advent of our Lord--neither the portion which relates to Messiah nor that which refers to Elijah. The reference of the prophecy is evidently to the second advent; to the coming of the "Messenger of the Covenant" in glory and power; and to the testing and great trouble of the Day of the Lord at that time. However, Christ's presentation to typical Israel, and the great trouble which came upon them as a nation when they rejected him, was, as God had foreseen and intended, another shadow which further illustrated in many particulars the things presented in this prophecy. John the Immerser, in the spirit of Elijah, did a work for Israel similar to that of the Elijah promised, but failed of success; and, as a result, trouble (a curse) upon that nation followed. The real Elijah referred to by the prophet was to do a great work for the whole "earth," to prepare all mankind for the second advent; and he will for a time also fail of success, and as a result the great time of trouble (the curse) will smite the whole earth.
The coming of Elijah mentioned by the prophet is "before" this "great and dreadful Day of Jehovah."* And since, as we have just shown, the great Day of Jehovah began in A.D. 1874, will continue forty years, and will end with the expiration of Gentile Times in the complete overthrow of worldly and Satanic dominion in the earth, and the full investiture of Immanuel--Christ Jesus and his saints--with all power and dominion, it is important for us to show here [B251] that Elijah has come. He has failed to turn the hearts of the world to childlikeness and to the [true] wisdom of the just; and therefore the great time of trouble comes, as God foresaw and foretold. In it, God will teach mankind by severe and bitter experiences lessons they need to learn thoroughly, to prepare them to gratefully accept the Christ-- Jehovah's Messenger of the New Covenant--with all the just arrangements, laws, etc., of that covenant.
*See Vol. I, Chapter xv.
At the first advent, as we have just seen, many of God's promises and plans were carried out on a small scale with one nation, Israel, as an illustration of the greater, grander realities to be accomplished at Christ's second coming. And as the miracles, cures, etc., represented the greater works of the Millennial age, and our Lord's riding on the ass as King represented his assuming the greater power, majesty and honor at the second advent as King of kings and Lord of lords, so "the man Christ Jesus" and his little band of disciples represented the Lord of Glory highly exalted, associated with the saints, his bride and coheirs, at the second advent. And thus John the Baptist and his disciples engaged in the same work with and under him, in attempting to convert Israel and to prepare them to receive Messiah, represented the real Elijah (the true Christian church), whose work has been to attempt the conversion of the world before the coming of Messiah to the world--the spiritual Lord of glory and King of kings. John the Immerser, in the spirit and power of Elijah, failed to reform Israel, and, as a consequence (Matt. 17:12), Israel rejected Jesus in the flesh, and brought upon themselves a great "day of vengeance," trouble and wrath. (Luke 21:22) So, likewise, only on the larger scale, the real and greater Elijah has failed to convert and prepare the world to receive the King of Glory, and now, consequently, the great day of wrath must come upon [B252] the world, to melt and mellow and humble and prepare all to cry out from the heart--Hosannah! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of Jehovah!
It is thus seen that the Church in the flesh (the Christ in the flesh, Head and body) is the Elijah or forerunner of the Church in glory, Jehovah's Anointed. Not the nominal church, but the really consecrated Church, which on the other side of the tomb will be the great Anointed Deliverer -- these constitute the Elijah. Their mission is to reprove error and sin, and to point to the coming Kingdom of glory. Our Lord Jesus and the apostles, and all the faithful in Christ Jesus since, are of this great antitypical Elijah, prophet or teacher--the same class (Head and body) which shall shortly compose the King of Glory. The work in which the Church is now engaged is merely preliminary to its future work, so far as the reforming of the world is concerned. In its kingly office the Church shall accomplish for the world what it fails to do as the Elijah teacher.
Let us not be misunderstood: We have heretofore shown that God's plan does not extend to the converting of the world during the Gospel age. He did not intend it to do so, but merely designed the selection and trial of the Church now, and the blessing of the world through the Church, the Christ, in an age to follow this. We do not contradict this when we say that the Elijah (Christ in the flesh) has tried to convert the world and failed, except in bringing about partial reforms; for though God knew and foretold that our mission to the world would be largely a failure, except in selecting a choice little flock, yet, knowing that the effort would react favorably upon ourselves, his commission to us through our Lord was to try to convert the world, when he said, "Go ye into all the world and preach the good tidings to every creature." Seeing that he foretold our present failure, but our future success, when he shall glorify and endue [B253] us with divine power, we are enabled to rejoice even while viewing the comparative failure of the past eighteen centuries, realizing that the labor of the true Elijah class has not been in vain, but has served the divine purpose in developing the true Church while bearing witness before the world--which will profit it in due time.
John the Baptist was not actually Elijah returned to earth, neither is the Church; but as it was true of John, that he did an Elijah work to Israel (Luke 1:17) to prepare them, and introduced the Lord in the flesh, so it is true of the Church--it does the predicted Elijah work "in the spirit and power of Elijah" to the world, and announces our Lord's second advent in almost the same words which John used at the first advent: "There standeth one among you whom ye know not; He it is who, coming after me, is superior to me." John 1:26,27
All could not receive John's testimony nor realize that he was forerunner to the King in the flesh. Had they done so, they would have been prepared thereby to receive Jesus as their Messiah. To as many of them as could and did accept John's message and receive Christ, to these John did do the Elijah work. As our Lord said to them of John (Matt. 11:14), "If ye will receive it, this is the Elias which was to come"; though John and his work did not complete the prediction concerning Elijah, even as our Lord in the flesh did not fulfil all that was predicted of Messiah. He was, to all who could receive it, Jehovah's Anointed, even before he had finished his work of sacrifice, or had been glorified, or had come again in the exercise of the great office of Messiah or Deliverer. John, at the first advent, was really a finishing out, in a measure, of the type begun in the person and work of Elijah; and John's work at the first advent foreshadowed the closing work of the Church at the second advent. These, the feet of Christ in the flesh--the feet of Elijah--announce [B254] the Kingdom. (Isa. 52:7) To those who "can receive it" we announce, as at hand, the reign of the Christ glorified; and likewise to those who "can receive it" we have pointed out the foretold antitypical Elijah. Some, probably, will not "receive it," but will still look for some one man to fulfil Malachi's predictions, and will "know not the time of their visitation" until the great day of trouble is burning as an oven.
It will be seen, then, that the failure of the Elijah (the Christ in the flesh) to convert and restore the world was as much a foreseen result as was John's failure to convert Israel. Nevertheless it will be the same Elijah class, only glorified and empowered, which will during the Millennial age bless and teach the world and restore all things, as promised by the mouth of all the holy prophets (Acts 3:19-21); only in the name and likeness the Elijah type ceases with our earthly career. In harmony with this were our Lord's words in reply to his disciples who asked, "Why then say the scribes that Elijah must first come?" Our Lord's answer does not attempt a full explanation of Elijah's being a type and John a continuation of the same while at the same time a shadowy fulfilment of it, etc.--things which the disciples were not then prepared to understand, and which moreover were not then due to be understood; and hence, while pointing out John's failure as a partial fulfilment of the prophecy, our Lord adds, "Elijah truly shall* come, and restore all things." (Matt. 17:11) Evidently he had in mind his own glorious work of the coming age, associated with his glorified "body" which the Gospel age would select and test. He was looking beyond the veil to the Millennial age, and seeing the Elijah class caught up in the chariots of fire in power and great glory--spiritual exaltation.
*Oldest Manuscripts omit first.
A woman is the figure used when the Church alone is referred to, separate from her Lord and Head. Separate and distinct from her Lord, the Bridegroom, she is an espoused virgin. But in this instance a man, Elijah, is the figure used, because the work prefigured is not the work of the Church separate from her Lord, but the one work of both. Our Lord was the Head and Forerunner of the Church in the flesh (the Elijah), as truly as he is Head of the Church triumphant --the Christ. Other instances in which a man is the figure used, when a joint work of Christ Jesus and his body, the Church, is typified, are numerous: for instance, Aaron and all his successors in the office of Chief Priest represented the Lord and the under-priests, members of his body; Melchisedec similarly represented the whole body in glory; so did Moses, David and Solomon. Hence the use of Elijah as a figure, in representing a united work of Christ and the Church, is in harmony with the Scripture usage.
In view of the class which Elijah represented, how forcibly eloquent was that "vision" which the Lord showed to the three disciples on the mount of transfiguration. (Matt. 17:1-9) It was a vision of the coming Kingdom, Peter tells us. (2 Pet. 1:16-18) Our Lord, transfigured, appeared radiant before their eyes, while a figure of Moses represented the Mosaic or Law Dispensation and a figure of Elijah represented the Gospel or Christian Dispensation. Both dispensations look toward and point out and speak of the sacrifice and sufferings of Christ and the glory to follow.
Before leaving this subject we will point out some features and incidents in the life of the Prophet Elijah, the type, comparing them with the history of the Church, the antitypical Elijah, which will certainly astonish all who have not noticed them heretofore. That the comparison may be readily seen, we will place these in parallel columns.
Elijah was persecuted for fidelity
to truth and righteousness.
His principal persecutor was
Jezebel, the wicked queen of Israel,
who is mentioned by name as the
type of the enemy of the saints.
Jezebel's persecuting power was
exercised through her husband,
Ahab, the king.
Elijah fled from Jezebel and
Ahab, into the wilderness, to a place
prepared of God, where he was
1 Kings 17:5-9
Elijah was "three years and six
months" in the wilderness, and during
that time there was no rain, and
a great famine was in the land.
James 5:17; 1 Kings 17:7; 18:2
After the three and a half years,
1260 days, when Elijah returned
from the wilderness, the errors of
Jezebel's priests were manifested,
the true God was honored, and copious
1 Kings 18:41-45
The king and the people at first
rejoiced, and Elijah and his God
were honored; but the spirit of Jezebel
was unchanged. She still sought
Elijah's life, and he was again compelled
to flee into the wilderness.
1 Kings 18:40,45,46; 19:1-4
Elijah's career ended by his being
taken from the earth.
The Church was persecuted for
fidelity to truth and righteousness.
The principal persecutor was the
apostate Church of Rome, which
claims to be a "queen" and ruler
over spiritual Israel. Rev. 18:7
Papacy's persecuting power was
exercised through the Roman Empire,
to which she was joined.
The true Church fled into the
symbolic wilderness--or condition
of isolation--to her place, prepared
of God, where she was sustained.
The Church was three and a half
symbolic years (a day for a year--
1260 literal years) in the wilderness
condition, during which there was a
spiritual famine because of the lack
of truth--the living water. Comp.
Rev. 12:6; 11:3; Amos 8:11.
At the end of the 1260 years the
power of the truth and its witnesses
was manifested (A.D. 1799); and
since then the truth has flowed at
the rate of millions of Bibles every
year, refreshing the world and
bringing forth fruit.
The Bible has brought such blessings
that the empires of earth recognize
the Lord's hand; yet the
principles of Papacy--Jezebel--in so-called
Protestant sects compel the
saints again to flee into the wilderness
The saints will be changed from
earthly to heavenly conditions.
These are striking coincidences, and are not accidental. And the fact that Elijah was to come before the great day, and that now we have found in the Church the antitypical Elijah to whom Malachi the prophet referred and whom John the Baptist further typified, should be esteemed another evidence that the time is at hand--that the great Day of the Lord has come. But, beyond this, there are in this type suggestions, supported by other scriptures, designed to guide and to prepare the saints to act well their part, and to strengthen and sustain them in the stormy day just upon us.
We have no desire to draw before the mind a dark picture: we would prefer to think of and point out the glory to follow the great day of wrath, and the joys of the incoming Millennial Day, rather than the afflictions and discouragements of the nearer future which precedes full sunrise. But it is necessary that the saints should be at least in some measure forewarned of impending events, that when such come to pass they may not be alarmed or disheartened, but being forearmed may know how to meet them; and also that they may more fully appreciate the blessings of the present, so as diligently to "work while it is called day; for the night [a much darker time in comparison with the present, called day] cometh, wherein no man CAN WORK."
The present little season, before the storm-cloud bursts upon the world, is a most favorable time for the work of the Elijah class, and corresponds to the successful days of both Elijah and John. It is favorable for personal growth in grace and knowledge, and also for the spread of the truth--the most favorable time that has ever been known. How the early truth-seekers, the Bereans, for instance, would have rejoiced at such students' helps as we now possess, in the way of complete and printed Reference Bibles, Concordances, Histories, Cyclopedias, Dictionaries and other valuable works of reference, at prices within the reach of all, [B258] and accessible to all without price in the public libraries of even moderate-sized towns; and in addition to all these, the increasing light of the dawning Millennial day, and the ability of all classes to read and think intelligently for themselves. With such helps more can be learned of God's Word and plan in a day than it was possible to learn in a year in less favored times. Nor has there ever been a time so favorable for Christian effort, or so spurring to Christian zeal and activity, as this time of the glorious harvest message of the Lord's presence and the glad tidings of the approaching kingdom.
If we would travel from place to place, to meet with believers, we can do as much traveling in a week as Paul could do in a month or more, and with much more comfort. If we would preach by voice, we can do so with none to molest or make us afraid; and we live at a time when the masses of the people can read and write, which only the very few could do in times past, and when the printed gospel is cheap, convenient, and often more effective than oral sermons. The willing heart can do far more thus than Aquila and Priscilla could do in their way and time with the same amount of effort. We can preach with both the printed and the written page through the agency of the wonderful mail systems of our day, to friends and strangers the world over, and at almost no cost.
But the Apostle, referring to the nominal Church in the last days, asserts that "the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine." (2 Tim. 4:3) While this is true now, in the same sense that it has been true for centuries, it is to have a more forcible and clear fulfilment future. It is true now that the Church nominal will not endure preachers who ignore their creeds and "preach the Word," the "whole counsel [plan] of God"; but having "itching ears" they love human speculations on evolution, and philosophies falsely [B259] so-called, rather than the Word of God. And yet, because they cannot hinder it, they endure the sound doctrine to some extent--to an extent far beyond what Rome in her palmy days would have endured.
Just before the words we have here cited, the Apostle refers directly to the perilous times of the last days of this age (2 Tim. 3:1-13), pointing out its high-minded, pleasure-loving and good-despising characteristics, with its formalism, covetousness, pride and unthankfulness; and he declares that (in the Church) evil men and leaders-astray (from the truth) shall grow worse and worse, deceiving others, and being deceived themselves by their sophistries. And since the Apostle was thinking and writing specially about the last days, and not about the middle ages, we are surely justified in querying whether a time may not be but a short distance before us, in these "last days," when sound doctrine will not be endured or permitted to any degree.
While it is true now, to a large extent, that none are permitted to buy or sell [trade in the truth] in the common marts or synagogues, except those who have the mark of the beast or the number of his name (Rev. 13:17), yet the fully consecrated have learned that magnificent temples of fashion, called churches, are no more necessary to the preaching of the gospel now than they were in the days of the apostles, and that grand organs and trained choirs are not necessary accompaniments to attract the attention of the people; for now, as in the early days, the common people hear the gospel gladly on the street corners, in the market places, through the mails and from the printed page. The question is, May not this statement of the Revelator mean still more than is at present experienced? and, like the Apostle Paul's statement, may it not imply that a time will come, in the last days, when sound doctrine will not be endured at all? May not ours in this respect correspond somewhat to the [B260] experience of John the Baptist (the type), who was shut up in prison? In other words, What may we expect between the present comparatively favorable time--though it is not without its difficulties--and the coming blessed time of unhindered righteousness? Will it continue to be as favorable as the present for labor in the vineyard--or more so, or less so? Let us notice what these types indicate; for since our Lord has directed our attention to them, whatever we find in the life and experience of either Elijah or John which seems to fit well to the experience of the Church, and to the testimony regarding her future earthly course, we are justified in recognizing as typical.
Elijah was separated from earthly scenes by a chariot of fire, representative of the spiritual glory and exaltation awaiting, at the end of the earthly racecourse, those of the Church alive and remaining to the last days. But we should also remember that it was by a whirlwind or storm that he was taken away; and a storm is the symbol of trouble, as much as the fiery chariot is a figure of victory and glorious escape from that trouble.
John the Baptist's closing experiences are still more clearly marked by the trouble feature. Though he was not obeyed by the people (Matt. 17:12), they for a short time recognized him as a servant and prophet of God (John 5:35); yet when he had announced the presence of Messiah his influence soon began to wane, as he had testified it would do, saying of Christ, "He must increase, but I must decrease." So it must be in the end of this age: the work of the John class (the Elijah class) closes with the announcement that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, and that the King is present. This is now being done; and the exact words of John's testimony apply with equal force at this time of the Lord's second advent: "There standeth one among you [present] whom ye know not," "whose fan is in his [B261] hand, and he will thoroughly purge [cleanse] his [threshing] floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire"--the great time of trouble. John 1:26; Matt. 3:12
As John decreased--his special work being accomplished when his message was delivered--so the Church in the flesh must decrease when its last message is given, until the last member has laid down his consecrated life, and passed beyond the veil into "glory," thenceforth to be a member of the glorious, reigning Christ. As John said that Jesus must increase, so now that the real kingdom is about to be established we can confidently say that the King is present, and that his kingdom must increase until it fills the earth. And John's announcement of the "harvest" work--the gathering of the wheat, and the trouble coming upon the chaff--also finds its parallel in the present time.
John's liberty was restrained soon after the delivery of his message, announcing the present One and the work before him; and he was cast into prison because he had reproved the king of improper union with a woman (Matt. 14:4). And though the faithful children of God have often pointed out that union between the Church and the civil power is out of order, being in the Scriptures termed harlotry (Rev. 17:5), and though in a great measure the world has withdrawn from the churches, the union still exists, and the Scriptures seem to point out that, in the time of trouble approaching, the nominal churches, professedly virgins of Christ, will be on the side of the kings of the earth, and united to them; and the true Church, like its type, John the Baptist, will be unpopular and restrained of liberty, because of faithfulness in opposing and condemning error.
In John's case as well as in Elijah's it was a woman that persecuted--a king acting as her agent and tool: with the true Church it has been in the past that which these symbolize, [B262] and doubtless will be so in the future--the nominal church represented by a woman and civil government by a king. Not only does prophecy point out a closer union between these than at present exists, but any close observer can see that the principal lever by which the royal aristocracy rules the masses is the superstition that God appointed these "great men," though often both weak and vicious, to rule over them; and that to rebel against tyranny and injustice, and to claim justice, liberty and equal rights, is to oppose God's will. Hence the tendency of governments and churches is toward open or secret union for their mutual welfare in the coming storm.
Not only so, but the coming struggle between the aristocracy and the masses of every civilized land will be so peculiar, so unlike any former experience, that moderate, conservative, religiously-inclined people, fearing the utter wreck of society in chaos and anarchy, will naturally prefer monarchy, oppression and bondage to anything certain to be worse. Hence such will affiliate with church and empire, with wealth and aristocracy, in the general effort to repress and prevent that irrepressible conflict--"The battle of the great day of God Almighty."
Eventually, probably the only exceptions to this course, among the lovers of peace and true religion, will be those to whom the King of kings is pleased, through his Word, to reveal his plans (John 16:13), and who have full confidence in his wisdom and love, as well as in his power to make all things work out according to his promises. Only such, among the conservative, order-loving people, as see the part which the coming social revolution must play in God's plan, in removing effete systems whose day is past, and in preparing the world, by a great leveling process, for the Millennial reign of righteousness, will be able to comprehend the situation and to act accordingly. But these will be misunderstood, [B263] and their endeavors to point out the true state of the case, and the real and only remedy, will probably be interfered with by those who do not see the grand outcome, and who, because unwilling to submit their own wills, ideas and plans, are unable to see God's plans. When repressive, restrictive and coercive measures are thought to be necessary, such measures will probably include not only labor organizations and the publications which advocate their rights and wrongs, but also such others as point out the plan of God, and the real cause and only remedy for the great distress of the nations. Yes, the time is probably not many years distant, when repressive measures may be brought to bear against every effort of the saints to spread the good news of the coming kingdom, all on the plea that the general interests and the public welfare demand such a course.
Thus would be fulfilled the predictions of the Second Psalm, and probably in the end with more bitterness than can now well be imagined, though it has been partially fulfilled already upon the Head of the body. Acts 4:25-29
The same necessity for restricting liberty on political and social questions will probably be supposed to apply equally to freedom of expression on religious questions, which really lie at the foundation of all liberty. It would not be surprising if a "strong government," a monarchy, would some day replace this present Great Republic; and it is entirely probable that one common standard of religious belief will be deemed expedient and will be promulgated, to teach outside of which will be treated and punished as a political offense. Such a persecution would not only furnish, in the end or harvest of this age, another parallel to the harvest of the Jewish age (Acts 4:10-13,23-30; 5:29-41; 11:19), but would also give a wider and deeper significance to the words of the Apostles Paul and John (2 Tim. 4:3; Rev. 13:17), [B264] and to the typical illustrations of the close of the earthly career of the true Church, as represented in Elijah's whirlwind departure and John the Baptist's imprisonment and beheading.
Two lessons we may draw from this to advantage, whether future developments shall prove that we have read the prophetic testimony correctly or incorrectly; and they are these: First, we should be so prepared, so armed and so thoroughly furnished with the invincible truth, that persecution would move us only to greater zeal, and not lead us through surprise or fear to lower our standard, nor to surrender when the kings of the earth stand up, and, with the religious rulers of the people, are gathered against us, and against the truths to which God has granted us the privilege of witnessing, as his servants and ambassadors. (1 John 3:1) Second, such reflections relative to the future, contrasted with the privileges of the present, should serve to stimulate every consecrated child of God to make diligent use of the present grand harvest opportunities and privileges, remembering that "he that reapeth receiveth wages," as truly as he that planted and watered, and that now is pre-eminently a time for gathering fruit unto eternal life. The little quiet of the present favorable time, with its greater liberties and advantages in every way, is divinely arranged in order to the sealing of the true servants of God in their foreheads (intellectually, with the truth). Rev. 7:3
"Let the 'little while' between
In its golden light be seen."
The Master saith: "Work while it is called day; for the night cometh, when no man can work." "Labor not for the meat that perisheth, but for that which endureth unto everlasting life."
So, then, in the present due time, we see that Elijah the prophet came, as foretold, before the great and notable day [B265] of the Lord. And we hear his closing testimony, like that of John, saying, "There standeth one among you whom ye know not"--whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly cleanse his threshing-floor: he will gather his wheat into the garner, and burn up the tares [as tares--not as men] with unquenchable fire in the great time of trouble--the curse, which must needs come to prepare the way of the Great King of kings. He must increase, but the Elijah must decrease and finally be entirely restrained. Not only do we hear this testimony from a few of the Elijah class now, but every one who is of the Elijah class will ere long be found proclaiming this message and engaging in the Elijah work. Such only as are thus faithful will be of the glorified Elijah, and permitted to share in the work of restitution of all things which, during the Millennium, will be a grand success. A depth of significance is found in the meaning of the name Elijah. It signifies God [mighty-one] of Jehovah. It is thus a fitting name for the Lord's Anointed, whose grand work will be to restore all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
Concluding this subject, we notice briefly the fact that in the close of the Prophet Elijah's career he called Elisha, who, after sacrificing, left all and followed with Elijah, and became his successor as prophet when Elijah was taken away in the whirlwind--receiving his mantle of authority and a large degree of his spirit and power. (1 Kings 19:16) And since Elijah represented the Body of Christ in the flesh--the overcoming Church, a company, a number--it is but reasonable that we should conclude that Elisha represented a class also; a class which will come into deep sympathy with the Elijah class, and follow the Lord's leading with it; and yet a class which will not be expecting to be glorified. These will be separated, by the "whirlwind" of trouble, from the Elijah class, yet nevertheless will retain an interest and will receive a blessing. After Elijah was gone, [B266] Elisha became bold and powerful, so that the theologians of that day ("sons of the prophets") said, The spirit of Elijah rests upon Elisha now!
The meaning of the name Elisha is mighty deliverer, and the career of Elisha was one of restitution work. This doubtless foreshadows a work by a class which in the future will be the active agents among men in carrying on the restitution work in the power of the then glorified Church. Among other wonderful works, Elisha healed the waters, so that there should not be thence any more death or barren land; he increased the poor widow's oil to cancel her debt; he raised the Shunamite's son to life; and when there was famine in the land, and the mess of pottage for the theologians ("sons of the prophets") was found to be poisoned, so that none could eat of it, Elisha healed it and made it wholesome for food. He caused bread sufficient for only a few to more than supply a large number. He healed the leprosy of Naaman. He was also God's agent in the anointing of Jehu, at whose hands, according to the word of the Lord by Elijah, the royal family of Ahab, including Jezebel, was entirely cut off, and all her priests as well. 2 Kings 2:19-22; 4:1-7,18-44; 5:1-10; 9:1-37; 10:28
It is not difficult to trace in these works of Elisha what bears a close resemblance to the very restitution work which may be expected ere long, when the waters of truth shall no longer be brackish with error, being healed at the very spring by a clearer understanding of the Word of God; when the poor shall be helped to secure the oil of joy for the spirit of heaviness; when the dead shall be restored; when in the famine the food (truth) shall be made wholesome and plentiful; and when the powers and systems represented by Ahab and Jezebel, and all who unite with them against the Lord, shall be fully and finally overthrown.