AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH October 25th., 2009
A CONTINUATION OF THE THRUST
AND BASE OF THE
OF AUSTRALIA (1901) ON BIBLICAL LINES …
THE TRANSFIGURATION AND THE THREE WHO SPOKE
WHY, in the transfiguration, that magnificent exposure of the transcendental deity of Jesus Christ, when His face and clothes shone in a brilliant illumination as if spot-lighted from heaven itself, when He was seen conversing with Moses and Elijah, when a voice from heaven declared, "THIS is My Beloved Son, hear Him!: why was Elijah there with Moses as the disciples looked in awe?
WHY ? It is clear that Moses might be there, since in Deuteronomy he had been led of the Lord to predict the coming of the prophet greater than he, whose word would be incapable of dismissal. He was, in this respect, a John the Baptist of the Old Testament. We could readily understand why then he would be seen, this Moses, the one to whom came the Old Covenant with its Levitical laws and symbols of Christ. It is clear why he would be appear in the presence of Christ who in Himself would fulfil the sacrificial point of these, and so in Himself, as in Hosea 13:14, institute the New Covenant.
This, it would be like the handing over of the baton in an athletic contest, Moses is there as the old runner, in the presence of Christ, the final runner, the end runner, the One for whom in this case the whole race was constructed. But why was Elijah there too ? What special significance did he have relative to this same Jesus Christ ? Did he explicitly predict His coming ?
No, in this case, it seems it was not so much as one predicting, but as one who in himself was a TYPE of Christ who was then to come, that Elijah was now given appearance while Christ was transfigured. Therefore, consider the amazing respects in which Elijah figured as a type of Christ, that is, as an expression of some of His features, in advance, like a memory in advance of the action, since to God time is no limit, barrier or condition.
Notice first, then, that the discussion, between the three, centred on the death which Christ was about to 'accomplish' in Jerusalem (Luke 9:31). It is then, not only about WHO He was and is, the beloved Son of God as foretold in Isaiah 42, 49, 54, the commander and the witness, in Himself the New covenant and light to the Gentiles, He of whom it is said, in Psalm 2, “blessed is the one who trusts in Him!” and again, “Kiss the Son lest He be angry, and you perish in the way,” this ultimate Judge and direct criterion over all men, who will “strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,” (Isaiah 11), and with the breath of His lips – “slay the wicked”: His rest “glorious”. That is majestic and grand.
It is however also centred on WHAT HE IS TO DO, as those three spoke as witnessed in the transfiguration of Luke 9. He was to ACCOMPLISH something, a death. It was to be a work of imposing character, majestic mould, intrinsic wonder, that of the the Child called Wonderful, the Mighty God (Isaiah 9), growing to be called Man of Sorrows (Isaiah 53). That grief was for good reason; for speaking of those healed by Him, Isaiah 53 tells us that on Him was laid the iniquity of us all.
In what way then could Elijah be SPECIALLY related to Christ, Moses having his place in terms of his prediction of Him as the prophet who would finally displace himself ? It was that in some parts of Elijah's life, he appears as a remarkably clear type of Christ. Let us look then at some of these.
ELIJAH AS TYPE OF CHRIST
FIRSTLY in OVERVIEW
1) Elijah was as far as action was concerned, again and again, left alone. Thus he ONLY went to the wicked King Ahab, to challenge him in the name of the Lord, advising that there would be no rain for 3 years (I Kings 17:1). He alone was to go into the wilderness, and there he waited by the brook Cherith while the waters lasted.
So Christ alone was called to become the Saviour, final and total, for Israel, and not for that people alone, and confronted Satan at the very first, through the devil's agent, Herod, who was so keen to exterminate Him that he slew children under two in an effort to ensure He would be extinguished.
Christ also went into the wilderness, where Satan tried Him, sought to tempt Him, to induce the desire for a name in THIS world, a fame, a power, a sensation, a sustenance, as he tempts many called to Christ as would-be pastors, who succumb and become this-world ministers, mere symbols, far from spiritual, fall-men, who are willing to be seduced by this world's culture, if only they may have a place, salary and accceptance, or perhaps fame as well.
2) When Elijah had at last been met by Ahab, after the 3 years were over, and the King was very ropable, challenging the prophet as the one disturbing Israel, he met this by telling the king that on the contrary it was he, this royal misfit, who was disturbing the land. Hence a challenge was arranged and it would be at Mt Carmel.
If Elijah called on the Lord to light the sacrifice, without earthly means, and those who with Ahab were following the cultural god called Baal, did the same, then the one who secured the celestial fire to consume the sacrifice would be the one shown experimentally to be true. The case was extreme and Elijah saturated the whole area with water so as to eliminate any doubt; just as Christ was thrust with a sword, hung for some 6 hours to drip and be choked and crushed in lung and spirit if it could be done, so that there could be no doubt.
At Mt Carmel, Elijah issued the necessary challenge, as many must do today, just as we also perform this office as must all faithful pastors and churches. "How long!" he queried the people, "will you halt between two opinions ? If the Lord be God, follow Him; but if Baal be God, follow him." The words were clear, the options presented simple. But "the people answered him not a word."
It is as today, so many in so many countries has one found who will NOT heed the warning of cultural assimilation, a crude substitute for Christianity with another Gospel, another God, another impact and another Jesus, who truncate the love of God, or divorce it from truth and justice, who make of Him an embracive name while they have truck with apostates, people who deny His deity, His mission, His morals, His name and still call the burnt out residue for some reason or other, a church! Was Israel still a people of the Lord ? Their day would come soon enough for their destruction, but for this time, here was the demonstration either to add to their sins, or to bring some from their sleepy squalor to spiritual life.
The case now is not different. Some churches continue in obvious collusion with anti-christ principles, procedures and people (cf. Revelation 2:16ff., 21ff.); they proceed as if their OWN name were sufficient, just as some thought in Christ's day that being 'children of Abraham' was guarantee of spirituality or godliness (John 8). Not so. As John the Baptist indicated, God could raise children of Abraham from the stones. Spiritual things may be given physical emplacement, but the spiritual realities are unique and it is these that matter. God is one, and nothing else has any place by Him, for foolish as are the Jehovah's Witness camps, there is no one LIKE the Almighty in heaven (Psalm 89), and Christ is His EXACT image! (Hebrews 1), whose throne is called the throne of God! Christ IS God.
There is no hiding place in this world, whose boss at its own level, is none other than the devil as Christ taught (John 14:30-31), so that to love this world is to be an enemy of Christ (James 4:4).
As to those, however - like those who insist on staying now in Churches where Christ and the Bible are no longer required unchanged - to whom Elijah issued this challenge: they answered never a word. They sat tight. They hoped it would not require any sacrifice on their part. They did not want to stick their necks out, to join the ranks of those dissident from this world and its received institutions. They wanted to have God if you can have one of those, ALONG WITH the structure and the institutional respectability of their position.
It is so today. You cannot however do this, merely mouthing words while betraying Christ. If the Lord be God, follow HIM; but if these cultural mutations which seek to merely use the name of God, if these be God, then follow them! You cannot indefinitely halt between two opinions.
Within hours of this declamation and confrontation near to Mt Carmel's summit, hundreds of Baal's prophets were dead, just as Japan, insisting on its ruthless attack on the USA, found suddenly, that hundreds of thousands of people had been smitten. You cannot halt indefinitely, hoping for a better surrender pattern. You act and become what you are going to be, and then are treated accordingly. Deception has a place in the liberties God has created, when these are misused as now, so vilely and violently; but it is not the last place. The last place is damnation, judgment or salvation, deliverance. Christ is the hinge of that door, indeed He is the door itself. Without Him, no entrance (John10).
The Culture is King religious alliance, those of Baal, for hours into mid-day heat sought for Baal to light the fires under the sacrifices, and Elijah chided and mocked them, Perhaps he is hunting, holding a conversation! he derided. When his own time of test came, as Christ's came on the Cross, from which taken, His power led on to the resurrection (cf. John 2), declaring His authenticity through the Spirit (Romans 1:4, I Corinthians 15): what then ? Then, there was action!
Christ's body did not rot. It would have been ever so simple if it has done so, and become an historical exhibit, like Lenin in his tomb, air-conditioned or whatever the means may be. It was never so permitted; for the stone moved, He went away, in His body remaining available, He being worshipped by Thomas, eating fish with His disciples (Luke 24:42). Meanwhile, His work till His return He duly set (Luke 24) and empowered (Acts 1-2).
Elijah, speaking to God and imploring Him to show the people that their hearts were being restored, DID send fire and the saturated sacrifice was consumed, and great was the abundance of flames (I Kings 18:38). Christ sent His Spirit as foretold (Luke 24:49) and thousands were won (Acts 2-3).
Thus there is this multiple parallel with Elijah as a type of Christ.
ELIJAH AS TYPE OF CHRIST
SECONDLY in ITEMISATION
1) ALONE as testifying of the truth publicly, in confrontation and continually,
2) ALONE as facing the King (just as Christ faced Pilate, John 18, and as a babe escaped Herod),
3) ALONE as personally putting in his own person, the challenge to the powers that be (Mark 14:53-65),
4) ALONE as being the cause of the outpouring. It was of fire with Elijah, just as it was of His Spirit with Christ at Pentecost (cf. John 17, Luke 24, Acts 2), thus bringing salvation to the land.
This Elijah was used to do, in first showing distinctively and according to His written word, the power of God in practice and in life; secondly in bringing in the death penalty as prescribed (Deuteronomy 13) for those who misled in the theocratic state of Israel, concerning God, and who taught amiss for other gods: this to hundreds of the false prophets; and thirdly in continuing his work politically, and spiritually through Elisha.
Christ did not come to destroy the world but that the world might through Him be saved (John 3:17) and accordingly, it was by the outpouring of the Spirit of life that He brought in deliverance, and those who saw where the spiritual death was, in the Temple worship now displaced, in the autocratic liberals of His day, these voluntarily left it and embraced life.
5) Nor is this all. As he proceeded in his various special ministries, and after Mt Carmel, Elijah was in the midst of extreme humiliation and felt it to the uttermost. He was so alone, no better than his fathers, he felt, now pursued by an angry Queen (her nice priests were slain, she was incensed and sought the death of Elijah, placed under curse); and under the juniper tree he was bemused. So in some degree of parallel, Christ at Gethsemane, was seeking His Father - "If it is Your will, take this cup away from Me. Nevertheless, not My will but Thy will be done!" Although Elijah did have some 7000 others in the land who had not bowed to the idol, they did not appear in his work very much in the huge crisis; and although the disciples were for Christ, at the arrest, there was dispersion after this. He had to stand alone in the name of the Lord.
6) We need to reflect that Elijah restored the broken altar, and that Christ restored to useful reality, the misused altar of the Temple (cf. Isaiah 1), by making Himself in all His own purity as the Son of God, the altar, Himself the priest who offering HIMSELF, and of Himself the temple in which it was so offered.
7) Elijah accepted the supreme test of a highly visible and obvious thing, fire from heaven to consume sodden material, as far more amazingly, in parallel did Christ, of having His OWN flesh not rot, but raised. In each case it was experimentally easy to show it. The thing could be displayed or it could not, His work would continue or it would not. It did, and His flesh was not available for observation of rotting, just as the fire was available for observation that it was hot.
8) Elijah used no deputy, and required no army or troupe to participate in the test; nor did Christ in His, the disciples having fled, or been afar off, and none being permitted to fight for Him (Matthew 26:53ff.).
9) Christ's ministry was one of some 3 years and for such a period was there no rain in Israel by the word of God. As with Elijah, near the first was the sojourn in the wilderness. There is a resemblance here also, for in this period, Elijah raised the dead (I Kings 17:17-24), just as Christ's raised the widow's son at Nain, and Lazarus for example, acting with singular power and leadership, in His case supreme, amidst the shambles of official religion in Israel in His own day.
10) Afterwards came the ascension of Christ, just as Elijah was taken off in the chariot of fire to heaven; and before this came the amazing works of Elijah duly ordered, including his political appointment at a spiritual level and his training of Elisha to carry on the work, just as at Pentecost came the power of God to the apostles, appointed to carry on the work.
11) Even in the comparison of Christ's ascension and the taking up by chariot of Elijah there is a type of relationship. Thus in the case of Elijah, after he went, prophets asked Elisha if they could look for his body somewhere, as if it might physically have fallen down into some receptive earth, and might be found perhaps in some valley. Elisha reluctantly let them go at last, but it was as he indicated, a futile excursion. Heaven is not on this earth! So with Christ, Mary looked for the body of Christ in the well-known and marked tomb, a singular one, but when she could not find it, she asked the One whom she took to be the gardener if He knew who had taken it or to what place! The parallel is striking here.
12) Thus, just as Christ indicated to the people, that where He went, they - the unbelieving taunters, could not come (John 8:21-23), so where Elijah went, those young prophets could not come, for they were on earth, and he had been taken to heaven. Elijah had been TAKEN up to heaven, but Christ without a conveyance, as with the chariot, ascended of Himself, just as He descended in the first place. Thus, as in John 3:13, there is none like Him, for said He, the Son of man "is in heaven", this being His place by nature and being, Godhead in the Son. He alone so ascended, having first descended, heaven His place from eternity.
13) Finally, just as Elijah gave out the word from the Lord that the widow's cruse would not fail, nor her flour, in the famine, so Christ declared that if you seek first His kingdom and His righteousness all these things would be added to you.
Each of us who, being Christian, hear this address today or any other day, should realise that it is not only as in general, necessary to follow Christ in this singularity of testimony, He to make it, we to be faithful to it; but we must also be willing to meet our tasks without apparent help; for though there WERE 7000 others who had not bowed the knee to the cultural substitute for the worship of God in that former time, yet Elijah as we have just seen, in much had to act alone. Sentries at night are the same in a battle-field, so let each one of us be found faithful at his or her post in this 'night', which Christ declared to be coming. Let us work while we have the light within and the scope so to act, for "the night is coming when no man can work" (John 9:4) and it is near (as in Revelation 13 cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5).
Faithfulness, under trial, if need be when you have to act alone, it is as perfume from the frangipane, as silver streams in Spring sparkling amidst the corn, as canola in its shimmering plateaux of a yellow surface of its own, above the ground, like roses that secrete a hidden perfume of additional beauty beyond the petals, like mountain sentinels in the wilderness.
Be therefore faithful to the end, and the Lord will reward you, who is our shield and our exceedingly great reward. He Himself is the heart of it, for there is none like Him, the triune splendour of His beauty the very soil and ground of all beauty of spirit, of art and of circumstance. To worship Him is also to serve Him, as Christ not only spoke in PRAYER before the cross, but lay ON it in PERSON practically, after that. May the Lord bless deeply, who heed.