Elisha Prefiguring Christ
2 Kings 13:20-21
And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year.…

1. In the facts and incidents of his early history we may find Elisha prefiguring Christ. He came from Jordan, gifted by the hand of Elijah with the power of the Spirit; and surely there is some resemblance here between him and our Blessed Lord, baptized by John in the same river of Jordan, when the Holy Spirit like a dove abode upon Him. Nor can I forget the eminently religious home in which Elisha was brought up at Abelmeholah, "the meadow of the dance," — reminding me of another home in Nazareth, where even a child understood what it was to be about "His Father's business." Is there nothing, also, in the fact that Elisha was called from the plough to be a prophet, and that up to the period when He began His public ministry, the Master, with the sweat standing in bead-drops on His lofty brow, stooped low and worked hard at a carpenter's bench.

2. In close connection and intercourse with matters of this world, we may find Elisha prefiguring Christ. Like John the Baptist, Elijah to a large extent lived out of the world — away from and above it, in stern sublimity. Elisha, on the other hand, as we have seen all through the course of these lectures, was a citizen of the world, and mingled — as we would say in present day language — in all the great national and political movements and events of his time. In like manner, one of the chief complaints against the Divine Author of Christianity was this: His publicity — "The Son of man came eating and drinking" — and His apparent insurrection against constituted authority. The first was true, for "He could not be hid"; the second was false, for His kingdom was not of this world, else would His servants fight. The Elijah-like type of character — the hermit, the recluse, the solitary — was not reproduced in Jesus Christ. Such a type of character, in fact, was essentially unfitted for a religion that was to conquer the world. Christianity was to be a religion for common life.

3. In his intimate communion with the other world, find another important and apt-to-be-forgotten element in Elisha prefiguring Christ. Elijah and John the Baptist had little or nothing of this. True, Elijah was fed by the ravens, and miraculously sustained by an angel under the juniper tree; yet he had no such revelations and glimpses of the unseen world — beyond "the still small voice" — as were vouchsafed to Elisha. "And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw: and behold the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha." "I, even I only, am left," was the wail of Elijah: to Elisha, on the other hand, was given, in a manner the most extraordinary, the anticipation by hundreds of years of the great Christian doctrine of the Communion of Saints. "Ye are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and Church of the firstborn which are written in Heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect."

4. In what I shall term the discerning of spirits, and the reading of the thoughts and intents of the heart, we have another line of parallel in Elisha prefiguring Christ. "Went not mine heart with thee," said the prophet to Gehazi. When Jehoram, at the siege of Samaria, sent the executioner to take the prophet's life, "See ye," said the man of God, "how this son of a murderer hath sent to take away mine head." Now how innumerable are the illustrations in the life of Christ of Divine prescience and discerning of spirits, as furnished in the four Gospels, I need not stay to tell. "He knew what was in man." And it is by bringing things to the Master's test that we, as by a new and subtle sense, can detect insidious unbelief, and transmit the faith of the Gospel pure and inviolate, as the beloved disciple assures us in a passage which is full of much solemn truth. "The anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you; and ye need not that any man teach you, but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, end even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him." The one infallibility in the universe is in Christ, because Christ is God. There is another side to this thought. If Christ knows what is in man, He is just the Saviour for us, "the sympathising Jesus."

5. In moral magnetism of character we see Elisha — in an infinitely lower, I admit, but still a sufficiently important and admissible sense — in his work and ministry prefiguring Christ. The attractiveness of Elisha's character we have had ample occasion during these lectures to see. I think our great painters have seldom been less successful than in painting pictures of Christ. I have seen scores of them; but the face has either been too effeminate, or too colourless and uncharacteristic, and sometimes even too despotic — of all things in the world — to satisfy the portrait of the Bible, or the unpainted portrait of the heart. The best life of Christ is in the four Gospels, and the best pictures of Christ are there also.

(H. T. Howat.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Elisha died, and they buried him. And the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year.

WEB: Elisha died, and they buried him. Now the bands of the Moabites invaded the land at the coming in of the year.

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