Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Going Up

And he said, You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so. – 2 Kings 2:10
And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. -- Acts 1:9

Elijah and Elisha were not, as far as we know, among the writing prophets.  They did prophesy, certainly, but not in the systematic way of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the rest.  Instead, they were associated with the miraculous. 

Types and all that can get confusing.  The New Testament talks about John the Baptist coming in the spirit and power of Elijah as the forerunner, the one who prepares the way for Christ.  Understanding it from that perspective, the more powerful Elisha represents Christ.  However, in his being caught up to heaven, Elijah foreshadows the Ascension of Jesus, so the doubly-anointed Elisha is a type of the Church after Pentecost. 

Why would seeing Elijah “taken from” him give Elisha the “double portion” he had requested?   Note that the double portion is often misinterpreted.  The eldest son received the double portion of the estate.  Elisha was not asking for more power but to be the legitimate heir and recognized successor of his master.  So, too, it is the Church that is the heir of our ascended Lord upon the earth. 

The Ascension reveals that not everything is horizontal.  It gives us a glimpse out of the flatland of death, out of the bent world defined by time and space and insight into the transcendent and the vertical.  If Elisha saw into this divine dimension to which his master was translated, he was indeed the heir.  If the Church sees Christ resurrected and ascended, it, too, is heir to the kingdom.   

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