Call upon your gods, but do not start the fire. And they hopped around the altar they had prepared. Perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened. But there was no sound, no one answering, no one listening. Answer me, that this people may know that you, L ORD , are God and that you have turned their hearts back to you. Let none of them escape! Ahab mounted his chariot and headed for Jezreel. He girded up his clothing and ran before Ahab as far as the approaches to Jezreel. Worship of many gods was virtually universal in the ancient world; the Israelite requirement of exclusive worship of the Lord Ex was unique.
The people of Israel had apparently become comfortable worshiping both Baal and the Lord, perhaps assigning mutually exclusive spheres of influence to each. The entire drought story in chaps. The Book of Malachi, chapter 4, and we read two verses, verses 5 and 6. Malachi 4 verses 5 and 6. Now this is many hundreds of years later, and the Prophet Malachi writes,. Luke chapter 1 and verse Now this is in the passage of Luke in which the announcement is made concerning the birth of John the Baptist. In the 17th verse we read,. Matthew chapter 17, verse 1 through verse In the early church, there is a great deal of reading of Scripture.
And so, we are, this morning, doing just a little bit of that.
1 Kings 16
Now if you have found the first verse of chapter 17 of Matthew, and listen as I read these verses. This is the account of the transfiguration of the Lord Jesus,. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elijah or Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah, or Elias.
The reason for this is that their understanding of them was so inadequate that it would have been dangerous for them, and misleading for them to publicize things that they did not understand. Now, the tenth verse,. But I say unto you, that Elijah is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of Man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.
Now for our last passage, will you turn to the last book of the New Testament, the Book of Revelation, chapter Revelation chapter 11, and I will read beginning with the first verse.
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Revelation chapter 11 verses 1 through Now John has been given a series of trumpet visions, and there has been a little interlude in the tenth chapter. And this is a continuation of that interlude in the vision of the trumpets and their judgments. And so he writes, describing what he saw in verse 1 of Revelation chapter 11,. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them the anti-Christ shall slay the two witnesses.
And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified there is no question that that is Jerusalem. And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves. And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth. And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.
That last statement is very interesting in the Greek text. In verse 9, when the statement is made that the bodies of these two men are seen by the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the word that is used is a word that frequently in the New Testament refers to a look that is a kind of glance. But this word is the word from which we get theorize in English, theoreo.
In other words, they took a great deal more interest in these men after they had come back to life, than they did while their bodies were lying on the streets of Jerusalem, and no wonder because of this wonder that happened. We recognize, Lord, that in the passages that we have read today are many hard and difficult things. And we do not presume to understand everything in the Scriptures. We do ask, Lord, that Thou will give us a diligence in the studying of them, and in a meditation upon them, that will enable us to understand things that Thou wouldst have us to understand.
We pray that as we consider the future of Elijah the Prophet, that Thou wilt guide us in the exposition and the reception of the Scripture, so that we may not only be curious, but also affected in the inner man by the things that we read and understand. We thank Thee for the privilege of the ministry of the word.
And we thank Thee, most of all, for the blessings that have come to us through these Scriptures, for they speak to us of him who is our Savior, Jesus Christ. And Lord, we pray, that as we look into the word for this morning, that we may come to see him in a new way, and have a deeper appreciation for him. Again, we commit to Thee this congregation and the friends, and we pray, Lord, Thy blessing upon each one, spiritually, and physically for those who are ill. In every way we pray that Thy blessing may be upon us that Jesus Christ may be glorified through us. We thank Thee for the friends who have come to visit with us today.
And we pray that they may be helped through the ministry of the Scriptures, and we pray that Thy blessing may be upon them, in their lives and in their homes.
And for the problems and perplexities of life, of which there are so many, O Father, we pray that Thou wilt teach us to come to Thee, and then to have patience to wait upon Thee. He came like a whirlwind. He burned like a fire. And in fire and whirlwind, he went home. He also began where he left. And he left where he began, in the desert. Someone has said that Elijah was a graduate of the university of the desert, with an M. And this was the type of man that he was: a lonely prophet of fire.
It is often said that Elijah spent the last years of his life in helping the schools. And we see some evidence of the fact that he was acquainted with the schools of the prophets in this chapter, which we have just read. And some have gone so far to say that perhaps the greatest work that Elijah ever did was the work that he did in the theological schools. I am not at all persuaded myself that this is true.
I know that the work that Dr. Lewis Barry Chafer did at the Dallas Theological Seminary was no doubt some of the greatest, if not the greatest, work that Dr. Chafer ever did. As a matter of fact, I do not think that these sons of the prophets appear to be kinds of seminary students that Elijah would have produced anyway. They seem to be capricious, wavering, chattering magpies. I still remember the story of the man who came up to D. So I am not at all persuaded that the Prophet Elijah spent the last years of his life instructing me in theological schools.
As I read the Bible, it seems obvious that the best place to instruct a young man in the things of God is in the local church. For it is there, according to the Scriptures, that we have not only the intellectual, but we also have the practical carrying out of the things we learn in our heads. It was not a mistake when the Lord Jesus selected twelve men, and asked them to follow him. And they lived with him and worked with him, and carried out their ministry under him.
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And consequently they were fitted for the work by the work for him. And the prophet who stands out in the prophets who followed Elijah is the Prophet Elisha. And the man who did not go to the theological school is the man who stands out in the period that follows. And yet at the same time, I see some of the characteristics of these men in our students in our theological colleges. I think that instead of being concerned about what happened to Elijah here, some of the sons of the prophets no doubt went off and wrote a Ph.
D thesis on the doctrine of Elijah. We want to look today in the time that we have to the rapture and the second coming of Elijah. Now Elijah is at Gilgal.
Biography of Elijah, Old Testament Prophet
And, I think that Elijah and the others who have been given an intimation of what is to follow, must have been meditating at this last time in his life over the life that he had lived. And if I know Elijah, I think, as the news was come to him that soon God was to take him from the earth, that he must have meditating something like this: what have I done to merit such an ovation to be carried up to heaven in chariots of fire in the midst of a whirlwind? And he was very much, I think, humbled, by what was going to happen. God was going to take him.
And Elisha had some indication.
Biography of Elijah, Old Testament Prophet
And Elijah, too, had some indication of what is going to happen. So he leaves Gilgal, and as he leaves he tells Elisha who is with him and ministering to him, Elisha, I want you stay here for the Lord has sent me to Bethel. He wanted to spare him that struggle and suffering. Now I do not think that was true at all. It was just another way of saying to him, do you really want to follow this man, Elijah?
And when they reached Bethel, some of the seminary students come out, and notice they do not go to Elijah. They go to Elisha, which seems to me to confirm the fact that they were not too well-acquainted with Elijah. Now Elisha is very curt to these seminary students, and they needed it, too. Because all they want is to say something that is curious, vulgar, that will cause men to talk. And the same thing happens.
The seminary students come out. And Elijah, some time before this, had taken his mantle, while he was plowing with the oxen, and he had thrown his mantle around Elisha in token of the fact that Elisha was to succeed in his prophet. And Elisha valued this so much, that he was not going to leave Elijah. After all, if God has called you to speak as a prophet, every other type of other human activity is inferior to that.
As Mr. And so Elisha values very much this privilege of being the mouthpiece of God, as the prophets were. So he insists on following him to Jordan. And finally, in the seventh verse, our author states that they, too, stood by the Jordan. And so, as the two men stand by the Jordan, what do you think they were thinking? Well, this soil about the Jordan was redolent with all kinds of types of nostalgic remembrances for these two men. For you see, it was around the Jordan that so many of the great things happened to Israel.
As Elijah stood at the Jordan River, and looked off toward the east — for he was going toward the east — over to his left were the hills of Gilead, and that was his own family playground. That what where he had grown up. And like so many people when they get older, they want to go back to their home.
Now he thought of that, and as he looked off to the right, in the distance he saw a hill, and on that hill, Mt. Nebo, Moses had gone to meet the Lord. And Moses had been the great lawgiver, and Elijah was the great law-restorer. And then also, at the Jordan River, that had been the place where Israel had come into the Promised Land as Joshua had arrived with the ark of God. You remember the ark, God gave instruction, should go through the Jordan River, and then the children of Israel should follow.
And when the ark went down into the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan went hither and thither, just as the text here said, and the children of Israel had gone over the Jordan River dry shod. Here was a place that was redolent with tremendous significance for Elijah and Elisha. Often, we look back at the past of our Christian church, and think of the wonderful things that have happened at certain places.
I know when I was in Europe, one place I was certain to go was Wittenburg, Deutschland, because at Wittenburg, that Augustinian monk had nailed his 95 Theses to the Castle Church, and the Reformation had begun. Things have changed considerably. Or if you went to Oxford, you would want to got Balliol College, for it was there that Wycliffe had been headmaster. And it was Wycliffe who had been responsible for giving the English people the Bible in their own tongue. And furthermore — and this was the worst thing that he did as far as the enemies of Wycliffe were concerned — they distributed it to the people, read the Bible in their own language.
These were two men of God, and as they stood by the Jordan, no doubt, these memories came back to them with tremendous significance. Now, at this point, Elijah does something that only a prophet can do. He takes his mantle off, which was the outward sign of his office or function as prophet, and the takes it, and he wraps it up together. The Hebrew text implies that he wrapped it up so that it formed something like a rod. And he smote the waters, and they were divided so that they went hither and thither so that they, too, went over on dry ground.
And the sons of the prophets made note of this, and they began to talk about the doctrine of the wrapped mantle. But it happened, and those waters went back. And Elijah, in performing this miracle demonstrated the fact that the unexhausted power of the God was still with him. The God of yesterday was the God of today. For you see, this was the same thing that had happened previously when the ark of God had gone down into the Jordan. The God who had worked in the Mosaic days is the God who is still working in the days of Elijah. And the prophets took note of that.
And Elisha took note of it. And I want to say that the same God who worked in the days of Moses and worked in the days of Elijah and worked in the days of our Lord works today with the same power — not in the same form — but in the same power. And in the tremendous transformations that take place in the hearts of men are miracles that are easily as great — I think greater — than these signs that were materialistic and performed by the prophets.
To see a young man transformed from a person who does not care one thing about heaven, or about the life that is to come, or about the life today. And to see that man through the gospel of the grace of God become a different person because he has new life is a miracle that only God can perform. And it is great.
The God of yesterday is the God of today. And Elijah and Elisha went through the water. I wonder what he was thinking. Perhaps he was thinking, I think that Elisha will say, give me your mantle.
But he surprised the prophet. I take it he was surprised because he said, thou hast asked a hard thing. Now, he did not mean by that, yes, let me be twice the prophet that you were. No, he was a Hebrew, you see, and he was asking within the Hebrew context, and you see the eldest son in the Hebrew family had a double inheritance. If there were three sons and lots of daughters, those sons, of course, inherited, and the first son, the eldest son, received a double portion. If there were three sons in a family, the inheritance was divided up four ways.
And the first son received two shares and the next two one. Now I wish it were like that today, because I am a first born son. But in that day it was. He wants to have a double portion of the inheritance prophet. In other words, he wants to be a real prophet; he wants to have a real contact with God. Now that of course reveals that this person Elisha is not a very worldly kind of man. He asked for a double portion of his spirit.