ELIJAH THE PROPHET
"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and dreadful day of the Lord: and he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; lest I come and smite the earth with a curse," (Mal. 4: 4, 5}
The coming of Elijah must precede the day of the Lord; but his work belongs to that day. Jesus says, "Elias truly shall first come and restore all things," (Mat. 17: 11). And the restitution of all things does not begin until the return of Christ "whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things," (Acts 3: 21). Hence the work of Elijah does not begin until after the personal advent of Christ, the event that ushers in the day of the Lord.
At the first advent Christ came, ostensibly, to establish his kingdom with the fleshly house of Israel, to whom alone, he was sent. But, "In the day thy walls are to be built, in that day shall the decree be far removed." (Micah 7: 11). The kingdom of God was taken from them, and the other half of Zion's warfare comes in.
The "walls" referred to, was their salvation: "In that day shall
this song be sung in the land of Judah; We have a strong city: salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks." But this will be realized only in that city "which hath foundations."
In the shadowy sense in which the kingdom was offered to the children after the flesh, in just that limited sense, John the Baptist was the Elijah. Christ in speaking of John, says, "And if ye will receive it, this is Elias which was for to come," (Matt. 11: 14).
Here it is clearly made conditional; If ye receive it, this is the Elias; if not, he is not the Elias. And they did not receive it, hence, when asked, "Art thou Elias"? John could truly say, "I am not," (John 1:21).
That Elijah [the names are the same, one is from the Hebrew, and the other the Greek], was only a mere type, and that the prophecy does not point to him in person, is clear from the fact that conditionally, John was the Elijah. And yet John, even if they had received him, was still the son of Elizabeth. But Gabriel, in Luke 1: 16, makes it clear; "He shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers," &c. Hence, the real Elijah, who, or whatever he may be, will be the antitype of Elijah the prophet. This, like many other prophecies, points in the letter of the text, to the type, and in the spirit or real meaning, to the antitype. And it can be shown that the "church of the firstborn," Christ and his body complete, is the true antitypical Elijah.
"He shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children; and the hearts of the children to their fathers; lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." Here is the alternative, if the Elijah brings about this happy reunion of the family, a blessing results, but, if he could, or should fail, as John the Baptist failed, then a curse must result. And that this turning of the hearts; &c, refers to something more than the Jewish nation, is evident from the extent of the curse, in case of failure. But it is written, "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed," Hence, the real Elijah "shall not fail nor be discouraged till he hath set judgment in the earth."
Of John it was said, "But I say unto you Elias has 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. (Matt. 17: 12). But to the antitypical Elijah they will not do as they list; "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision, , . . Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion."
As the restitution is to result in the good of the human family, and it is only through the restitution, that all families of the earth
are to be blessed in Abraham and his seed; and this work of restoreing all things is the Elijah work: it follows of necessity, that the Elijah, and "the seed," are one and the same. And that Christ, head and body, the one perfect seed, is alone competent for the work, and that it belongs to him, no one can doubt. Hence, all ideas of a personal Elijah are from some other than divine origin. "And the least in the kingdom of heaven [that is of that body which is to constitute the real Elijah] is greater than John the Baptist."
But, it may be asked. If the gospel church, with Christ as its head, is the real antitypical Elijah, who is to "turn the hearts of the fathers to the children; and the children to their fathers;" and "restore all things:" is not that work being accomplished during the gospel dispensation? Let Christ answer; — "Suppose ye that I am come to send peace on earth? I tell you nay! but rather division: for from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father." But when he has perfected his church, he comes not to bring division, not to set the fathers and children at variance, so that "a man's foes shall be they of his own household:" but to speak peace; "and of the increase of his government, and of peace, there shall be no end."
As Elijah was a type of the gospel church, there should be a correspondence, as there always must be between type and antitype.
Was the church endowd with the power of miricles? "And Elijah said, See, thy son liveth." Has the gospel church been persecuted and compelled to flee, by a woman who sat as queen, (Rev. 18: 7); and is called Jezebel, (Rev. 2: 20)? "Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as one of them. And when he saw that, he arose and went for his life." Did the church, when fleeing from the woman, find shelter in the wilderness, "where they should feed her a thousand two hundred and threescore days? Then Elijah did according to the word of the Lord; . . . and the ravens brought him bread and flesh, in the morning, and bread and flesh, in the evening." When the church came out of the "wilderness," after her flight, did the "famine, not of bread, nor of water, but for hearing the word of the Lord," cease, by a copious outporing of "the latter rain? And the word of the Lord came unto Elijah, in the third year, [at the end of "three years and six months," James 5:17] saying, Go show thyself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the earth." Is the church to end its career by translation: — "Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump." "For the dead in Christ shall rise first, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air." "And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind; that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal," (2 Kings 2: 1).
Why should Elijah be translated? he was no better than his fathers. (1 Kings 19: 4). Because being a typical character he represented the body of Christ in all its humiliation, and final victory. But
the parallels are not complete, when he starts for translation. His movements from leaving Gilgal until he crosses the Jordan, have their exact parallels under the midnight cry movement, the one in which the church is represented as going to meet her Lord (Matt. 25: 6-12) Even the meaning of the names of each point visited by Elijah, in which he startes from Gilgal for Beth-el, and from Beth-el to Jericho, and then for Jordan, crosses the Jordan, and still goes on, all have their antitype here, in this movement now ending with the "harvest" message.
It does not follow that because all the church have not taken part, that they are not represented; all the church did not flee into the wilderness. And often a minority is made to represent the whole, as is doubtless the case in the parable of the "ten virgins."
This movement is related to, and we might almost say based on, the very unpopular Advent movement of 1843-4. Since all the rules of interpretation then adopted, are fully carried out in this present movement. The '43 movement ending as it did, in disappointment and fanaticism, has been a great reproach. Prior to that, the pious in all the churches would both sing and talk of the second advent. But now the bare mentioning of the subject is frowned upon. This movement started some fifteen years after, and out of the very sink of that reproach: not only, indorsing the prophetic applications then made, but indorsing the movement itself, as the fulfilment of Mat. 25; 1-5.
Gilgal means, "rolling away the reproach," (Joshua 5: 9). With the evidence now before us, we must believe that translation is near; and, assuming that these arguments are true, Will it not roll away the reproach of the '43 movement? for if that filled the conditions of Mat. 25: 1-5, this movement completes the parable. And the midnight cry movement being the one that ends with the coming of the Bridegroom, and the "going in of those who were ready;" ought to be the antitype of the Elijah translation scenes.
When the Lord would translate Elijah, he started from Gilgal, for Beth-el. Beth-el was the place where Jacob's ladder stood; and received its name in consequence of that vision. Our object-point, when this movement started, was 1873; where the six thousand years ended, the day of the Lord begun, and the special light now shining on the nature of the closing events of the age, began to develope. And we trust that this "ladder," resting on that platform, will stand secure, until the topmost round is scaled. But Beth-el was scarcely reached by Elijah, before the Lord sent him to Jericho; which means "his month, or moon," And we had but just reached our object-point in '73, when the light shone on the evidences, as now given in this book, that Christ was due to leave the holy Place on the "tenth day of the seventh month," in 1874; to which we immediately began to look. That, clearly answering to Jericho, the second object-point of Elijah.
But "the Lord said go to Jordan." And, without giving it up, or any apparent discouragement, he started for Jordan; which is, judgment. He not only went to, but crossed the Jordan; entering in and coming out on the other side, dry shod. When we reached the seventh month of 1874, there was no time for discouragement.
as the light on the 1335 "days," showing that they could be prolonged to Feb. 14th 1875, came out at that time. And also that between Feb. 14, where the resurrection would be due to commence, and April 5th, the end of the Jewish ecclesiastical year, at which time the Jubilee, or "times of restitution" would begin, was just fifty days. Which could not occur again until the new moon should come again on April 6th, and that April belong to a leap-year. Which would require the return of many, many cycles.
The special point in this fifty days, is that from the resurrection of Christ. "the firstfruits," to the descent of the Holy Spirit, "the earnest of the inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession" (Ephe. 1: 14), was also fifty days.
Although we did not look for translation on the 14th of February, we believed then, as now, that the resurrection began at that time, and with the "order" of the prophets, the order to which Daniel belongs. But we did expect translation between that, and April 6th. Hence, with those two object-points in view when we started from the "seventh month" of 1874, they answer to the passage between the banks of the Jordan. And as we journey on a little further, deliverence may come any time between this and the end of the "harvest," in 1878. And now, as then, "the sons of the prophets stand afar off." (2 Kings 2: 7).
These things may look small, as indeed they are, and foolish to the world. And so do many of the little details of the law: Why should Christ ride into Jerusalem five days before the passover, instead of six? Why should he be betrayed on the evening of the 14th of the first month? Go to Exo. 12: and learn why. A lamb was taken up, and a lamb was slain, at those set times. Type and antitype are a feature in all of God's work, even from the six days of creation, to the end of the great plan; "For, said he, See thou make every thing after the pattern shown thee in the holy mount."