After Elijah received the grace and blessings of Rothem (Juniper) tree, he travelled 40 days and nights to Mt. Horeb where he met God and received the last word and instructions. From there, he takes the final journey to transfiguration.
1. Meeting God at Mt. Horeb
Like Moses before him and Jesus after him, Elijah travelled without eating (fasted) for 40 days. Later, at the Mt. of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah met with Jesus to discuss Jesus’ departure (Matthew 17:1-8, Luke 9:28-36).
What did Elijah experience at Mt. Horeb?
(1 Kings 19:11–12, Matthew 24:3–14)
In order to walk the path of transfiguration, we need to meet the Lord. Elijah was told to wait for the Lord who is passing by. 1 Kings 19:11-12 foreshadows the signs of end-time before the Lord’s return similar to what Jesus said in Matthew 24:3-14. The disciples asked Jesus when will He come again. There will be signs like the great and strong wind (those who will mislead and cause people to sway) that will break up mountains (those with supposedly great faith), an earthquake (wars, famine and earthquakes), and fire (tribulation and persecution). But the Lord was not there. The Lord comes through a small still voice (like the little book in Revelations), the voice of God is the Word of God. As Jesus said, the end will come when the gospel of the kingdom (the Word) is preached to the whole world. And those who endure until the end can meet the Lord.
Elijah’s journey is like a guideline for our journey of faith to transfiguration and eternal life. His journey also becomes a type of Jesus’ walk on earth.
Jesus, the God of heaven, came down in the flesh to this sinful world, to save unclean sinners. He ate with sinners, outcasts, and tax collectors like the ravens that fed Elijah (Matthew 11:19). Jesus found faith in the gentiles like the Sidonian (Canaanite) woman who sought for Jesus to heal her daughter (Mark 7:24-25) just like God sent Elijah to bless a gentile widow. Jesus’ prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane and victory on the cross is like Elijah’s victory at Mt. Carmel. Although Jesus gained victory, the disciples ran away. Then, Jesus appears to His disciples to empower them and ascends up to heaven just as Elijah went up.
After Jesus’ ascension, the disciples received the Holy Spirit and power to go out and fulfil the task He has left with them just as Elisha receives power through the mantle that Elijah leaves behind.
2. God’s instructions
(1 Kings 19:15–18)
After Elijah went through the Brook Cherith, Mount Carmel, the widow of Zarepath, the Rothem Tree, and now he needs to go to Damascus to anoint Hazael as king over Aram and Jehu as king over Israel. He had to change the kings. It is not easy to do a regime change, so his path and tests only became harder and harder. And this is a mirror of our life of faith. Damascus is like the outside forces(worldly comforts, attacks and temptations) of satan from the world. We need to change the ruler outside of us pulling us away from God. And Israel is like the inside factors like our laziness, greed and selfishness that rules our heart and makes our faith unable to grow.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
God is telling Elijah to change. We expect God to transfigure (change) us, yet we don’t want to even make the slightest change in ourselves.
3. Journey to transfiguration
2 Kings 2:1
And it came about when the LORD was about to take up Elijah by a whirlwind to heaven, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.
God’s purpose was already set to take Elijah up. But this path was not only for Elijah, Elijah took Elisha, his successor-to-be, through this path before leaving him with the task.
Places Elijah and Elisha walk through these places:
(1) Gilgal – shame/reproach is rolled away; sins of Egypt and the wilderness rolled away (2 Kings 2:1)
This is a place of circumcision (Joshua 5:9), God commanded them to be circumcised there. What kind of stone did they use? (Joshua 5:2-3) Flint knives which are used to kindle fire, representing the Word. It is the stone that begins fire.
Using flint knife to circumcise baptism of fire (Colossians 2:11-12 circumcision = baptism). It signifies burning away all sins. It is completely separating ourselves apart from sin, being reborn. Like Brook Cherith to cut away.
(2) Bethel – house of God (2 Kings 2:2)
Bethel is the place where Jacob changed the name from Luz (Hebrew: turn aside, take refuge) to Bethel (Hebrew: house of God). It was the house away from home. Jacob was going away from his father’s house, but he realized that this is the true Father’s house because God was with him.
– This is indicative of Jacob’s deceiving heart turning into God’s house/dwelling.
– It is like the house of the widow in a gentile land where Elijah found God’s protection.
This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”
– He worshipped and made a vow to tithe.
Worship is a duty for believers of God, not a privilege or rights. Tithe is also a duty for believers.
– When Jacob made this promise, God gave him a covenant which is ‘no matter what happens, I will be your Immanuel God until you return to this place.’
So God will be with us as long as we change, we worship Him and vow to tithe.
(3) Jericho – place where God made the Israelites walk around every day for 6 days and 7 times on the 7th day. (2 Kings 2:4)
This was a place to experience that the battle is won through faith and obedience to God’s Word! The impregnable walls of Jericho came down at the sound of the trumpets! The impossible has happened to give victory to God’s people who followed His Word.
Like Elijah’s impossible victory at Mt. Carmel
(4) Jordan – go down (2 Kings 2:6)
(Matthew 3:5) John the Baptist gave baptism at Jordan River.
(2 Kings 5:1-14) General Naaman was healed of leprosy by dipping himself in the Jordan River 7 times. Leprosy was a sickness of losing senses. It was thought to have given to them as a result of sin, result of having fallen away from God. After Naaman humbled himself and went down to the river Jordan, he was healed. Becoming humble brings healing.
John Calvin said, “When you read the Bible, become an empty container.”
– Pride in faith is something that is very difficult to fix.
This is like the Rothem tree where Elijah was so down that he felt like he could not go on anymore. This is where God gave new strength for the final journey to transfiguration.
(5) Up to heaven (2 Kings 2:8–11)
The last test to Elisha was a question from Elijah, ‘You have followed me in walking your journey of faith…,’ “Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you” (2 Kings 2:9).
– Elijah and Elisha’s relationship = teacher and student relationship and father and son relationship
If Jesus asked us what we wanted before He was taken up to heaven, what would we ask for? I hope that we would ask to be able to go up to heaven alive with Him.
But Elisha chooses the power on earth, a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Would he have been able to follow Elijah up to heaven if he had asked for that? Or was that not an option? Did Elisha have to stay back? But he chose to stay on earth with double the power of Elijah. What about us?
2 Kings 2:9–10 Shows us that Elijah said, “What is asked for is a hard thing.” It wasn’t hard because God couldn’t give it to Elisha, but it showed Elisha’s hardened heart.
Just as Elijah went up to heaven and Elisha received power through the mantle, Jesus went up and the disciples received power through the Holy Spirit to continue the work of Jesus on earth. Then, later, the prophet Malachi prophesies that Elijah will come back. We studied at the beginning of this series about how Elijah came back. Now, we are waiting for Jesus to come back. Hence, Elijah is a type of Jesus who ascended up to heaven and will return.
Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.
Elijah was born as a human being and sinner, but God led him through the journey of faith that transferred him from earthly to heavenly. And the result of that is transfiguration. Somehow, the Bible does not give any information about his background. It does not even mention who his father was. The Bible always introduces the prophets as “son of so and so.” But Elijah’s origin is not given. It is like he was taken out of the earthly genealogy. Jesus also came in the line of an earthly genealogy, but the genealogy becomes a heavenly one after Jesus. And Jesus is originally without genealogy, without father and mother (Hebrews 7:1-3).
May we also receive the blessing of being taken out of the earthly genealogy and added into the heavenly genealogy!