Elijah and Elisha and Jesus

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by T.A.G., Apr 3, 2010.

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  1. T.A.G.

    T.A.G. Puritan Board Freshman

    Reading these two prophets I can not help but see the similarities between these men and Jesus' ministry. For example each one raised a person from the grave. They also increased food when food was limited etc.

    What do you think God is communicating to us when we see such striking parallels with these mens ministry and Christ?
  2. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Senior

    I always thought that the Redemptive-Historical method saw in the OT symbols of Jesus, even in the major people like David. So my first guess would be that these two great prophets were types and shadows of Jesus in this sense they forshadowed Jesus' ministry but they paled in compareson to the miracles Jesus was going to preform.
  3. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    The Elijah/Elisha accounts contain a great outpouring of miracles the likes of which hadn't been seen among God's people since Moses, and would not be seen again until Christ. It is altogether proper to see Elijah/Elisha as a preview of Christ on a level similar to Moses.

    So why do we have both Moses and Elijah/Elisha? I like to think of it this way:

    There are two sides to our sin problem. Sin is both rebellion (we are disobedient to God) and it is bondage (we are captive to the devil and the ways of the world). Moses primarily shows us salvation from bondage. Elijah/Elisha confront rebellion, calling an apostate people to turn their hearts back to God. Together, they give us a preview of the final, all-encompassing victory over sin won for us by Christ.

    That's not the only framework we can apply to Elijah/Elisha, but it's where I start. Amid all the other similarities to Jesus (resurrections, mass feedings, care for the needy, healing lepers) the most fundamental may be the call for repentance. Only in Christ is the full and lasting repentance Elijah/Elisha ached for made possible.

    BTW... Ray Dillard's brief book, Faith in the Face of Apostasy, the Gospel According to Elijah and Elisha is excellent (and and easy read) on this topic.
  4. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I've read Ray Dillard's book and found it interesting but kept thinking that he was stretching for parallels.

    I wonder, sometimes, if an attempt to see "Christ figures" and other things not explicitly mentioned in the text is a return to a type of allegory that the Reformers were so vehemently against. If we don't have the benefit of Apostolic witness to see a fulfillment in OT passages, are we at liberty to add Redemptive Historical "flair" to a passage or a personage?
  5. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    That's a fair point. I think I'd agree Dillard stretched for some minor parallels that detracted from more major themes and may have even been unwaranted. But I appreciate his determination to read the entire Bible with Christ in view, and I wonder if the greater error is to read any part of the Bible and fail to see Christ at all.

    In Dillard's defense, I'd argue his fault (if any) is an overactive redemptive-historical mindset rather than an allegorical approach. My understanding of the allegorical method is that it largely discounts the original meaning and context of the text, which I don't think Dillard would stand for.
  6. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Sometime in the recent past, there was a TableTalk article on this subject, one that I thought was particularly insightful. Perhaps someone else remembers, and can post the month/yr of that issue? And the author. (I'm thinking it might have been Bruce Waltke).

    I didn't find it stretched things too far, and it made a striking connection (irrc) between Elijah and John the Baptist (and of course we know that Jesus referenced the two together). Elisha's ministry then surpasses Elijah's.

    I believe that the art of properly seeing the parallels in the OT is part of why our training and selection of ministers has to be so exacting. The NT cannot possibly give us every one of the connections, without quadrupling the size of the Bible. So it gives us the example, and expects us to handle the text judiciously.

    If we run away from finding Christ in the OT, we will end up in just as deep an error as allegory does, from the other direction. It has been helpful to me to come to realize that the hermeneutical errors of the pre-Medieval period (the Alexandrian vs. Antiochan schools) is reflected in our own day.

    When I was in seminary, I was taught that the Antiochans lost the battle, and so we ended up in Medieval allegory. This is a false dichotomy. The problem is actually closer to the mean. The Antiochans were being pilloried because of their "literal" hermeneutic. The danger that was feared was an over-reliance on the literal, to the exclusion of finding the Christian message in the OT.

    Now, I have to say that I have seen some absolutely unreal allegory from some modern proponents of RH. Felt like a time-warp. There is definitely a "taking things too far." But, because of that experience, I began to realize that RH is actually an attempt to revive a form of interpretation that, frankly, has been abandoned in too much of the church--finally seeing that it has been to our detriment. We are taught that the Reformation restored the literal interpretation to the church (it did), but we have lost the skill of accurately presenting Christ and the gospel by failing to connect the types with the fulfillment.

    In a sense, the "scientific approach" to Scripture was fed by an obsessive dedication to the "literal" meaning of the text. The Bible as our religious constitution was overthrown. The fears that led the church of the fifth and sixth centuries to officially denounce the Antiochans actually came to pass in the aftermath of the Reformation. This fellow: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Salomo_Semler at about 200 years post-Ref. is one to whom the rationalists owe a great debt, for undermining faith in the Bible's unifed message.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2010
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