“The angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God” (1 Kings 19:7,8).
(Adapted from “The Time is at Hand, A Treasure Revisited,”
published by the New Albany-Louisville Bible Students)
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There appears to be a chronological sequence in Elijah’s life that represents the chronology of the Church. The Scriptures that deal with this are in 1 Kings 17 through 19. An additional summary (also in chronological order) exists in 2 Kings 2.
● 1 Kings 17 typifies the Church’s history during the 1260 years of Papal domination (539 to 1799). In Elijah’s life, this corresponded to 3½ years without rain. In the antitype, this is the time of Papacy’s power to keep the faithful Church “hiding” in “the wilderness” condition.
● 1 Kings 18 typifies the events at and around 1799, Daniel’s “Time of the End.” In the life of Elijah, this was the challenge to the prophets of Baal. In the antitype, it is the 1799 victory of the Bible over Papacy, which had theretofore suppressed the Bible in dead languages.
● In 1 Kings 19:1-8, Elijah is fed twice. The first occasion had Elijah being fed under a “broom tree.” He fell asleep after this feeding. The second feeding has Elijah being fed to carry him 40 days to “Horeb, the mountain of God.” In the antitype, the first feeding (at the broom tree, representing the time of the “cleansing of the sanctuary”) corresponds to the period from 1799 through 1843. Its main feature (feeding) was the “Second
Advent Movement,” the Miller Movement.1 However, the virgins (Matthew 25:5) all fell asleep after the disappointment of that movement.
The second feeding represents the feeding by the works of the seventh trumpet. This feeding takes the Church through 40 years — 1874 to 1914. It is necessary to use the meaning of “Horeb” to understand this picture. “Horeb” means desolation.” The 40 years was to take the Elijah class (as it thought) to the “mountain [kingdom] of God.” We know now that it did not. The hopes of the brethren for the “kingdom of God” turned out to be premature or “desolate.” In other words, the expectation failed. But that is what is so lovely about this prophecy. It foretells that 1914 would fail — that its hopes would turn out to be “desolate.” Thus is pictured the 1874 to 1914 feeding, its expectation, and failure. It is interesting to note that this type shows that both feedings ended in disappointment.2
● 1 Kings 19:9-14 leads us from the 1914 desolation of hopes through a new series of events that transpire before the peaceable kingdom is established. Thus, Jehovah “was not in” the wind, earthquake, and fire. In other words, attempts of brethren to predict the kingdom at dates during these events were futile. God’s peaceable kingdom would not occur during these three periods. God (the sweet influence of His peaceable
kingdom) would not be in these periods.
(1) An editor adds, “and Joseph Wolff and the Albury
movement in England.”
(2) An editor adds, “in mid-1914, almost as many talks expected little in October as expected utter destruction.”
This series of events begins with God’s question to the antitypical Elijah as he stands at 1914: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” God is telling us that we must not stop at 1914.
“Keep going on! You must pass through a period of wars, breaking up of colonial empires, and ‘out-of-control-ism’ before you will hear the sweet soft voice of the peaceable kingdom.” Our analysis of these periods is as follows.
Wind: The period of the World Wars, 1914-1945.
Earthquake: 1945-1989. During this period “all the trees” (Luke 21:29) — many nations — put forth leaves as they became independent from colonial powers. The earth (established society) shook, or quaked, until it broke up the enormous world-wide satellite-nation structure of the colonial powers. This stage ended as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989.
Fire: 1989 to the Peace. “Fire” in Scripture pictures righteous destruction. There is no reason to change a basic symbol here. We traditionally call this fire, of 2 Kings, “anarchy.” We only need to adapt it to the reality of the times.
This period is marked by destruction. It is “righteous” in that God’s judgments against the old order are righteous (compare Revelation 15:3,4). We traditionally tend to call this period “anarchy,” but brethren sometimes do not agree on the meaning of that term. What we do see is nihilism, out-of-control-ism, and, as we now call it, “terrorism.” It is, indeed, anarchy. Anarchy is the tool for destruction (fire). What is exciting about this period is that it is the last step before the voice of peace that marks the beginning of mediation. It shows how close we are to what the antitypical Elijah class expected at the close of the 40 years. Nothing intervenes between “fire” and the kingdom. “Fire” is the “last stop” on our journey to peace.
Verse 14 repeats the statement made earlier in verse 10. This repetition is for a purpose. Verse 14 draws us back to 1914 (described in verse 10), so that God can tell the Elijah class its commission from 1914 until the peace 1 Kings 19:15-18 describes that commission. The item of particular interest is that Elijah never finished the work given to him. Elisha would finish it. Thus, we are introduced to the concept that the Great Multitude (an extension of the Elijah class) completes the work of the Elijah class. This is depicted by the passing of Elijah’s “mantle” (or authority) to Elisha.3
The Final Chapter
The final chapter in the Elijah type is in 2 Kings 2. From 1799 until the present, God is “about to take up Elijah by a whirlwind to heaven.”
There are two primary Hebrew words translated “whirlwind.” One is severe, representing the kind of cyclonic wind that sweeps everything away. That is not the Hebrew word used in 2 Kings 2:1. Elijah is taken up in a “Tempest,” a strong but not-yet-destructive storm. Hence, Elijah’s glorification is before the final “whirlwind” that will be caused by the “four winds” of Revelation 7.
Four Step Journey
In 2 Kings 2, we find a 4-step journey of Elijah from 1799 to his glorification. It is symbolized by three dwelling places (cities) and by one river (Jordan). The meanings of these place names is helpful in the interpretation of the sequence.
Gilgal means “A Rolling Away.” It represents the condition of the Church from 1799 until 1874. According to Br. Russell, places, when used as symbols, represent conditions. We can attach dates to these places if we can ascertain when the conditions begin.
Gilgal refers to two “rolling away” conditions. (1) The power of Papacy to greatly persecute was ended (or rolled away) in 1799. (2) The errors of Christendom were rolled away from the faithful as the “Cleansing of the Sanctuary” progressed through the 19th Century.
Bethel is the name Br. Russell gave to his “headquarters” home once he left Pennsylvania. The name means “House of God.” This is an apt name for the condition of joy, peace, and learning which the harvest Church enjoyed during Br. Russell’s ministry. This condition covers the period from 1874 to 1914 — the 40 years of Elijah’s second feeding.
Jericho means “Fragrance.” It represents the condition of the Church from 1914 until the closing of the door of the “Wise and Foolish Virgins” parable. The meaning of the name might be elusive except for a clue in Revelation. The Thyatira period of the Church (the fourth Church era) has a name meaning “Sweet Perfume of Sacrifice.” It was so named because the true Church was so much subjugated under Papacy’s iron fist that God counted its sacrifices particularly sweet because the true sacrifice was very difficult. It has also been suggested that if one follows only one of his senses (in this case, the sense of smell), he cannot see where he is going. He is walking by faith. All of this describes the brotherhood since Br. Russell’s death. There is no clear human leadership. There are challenges concerning faith, doctrine, practice, and prophecy. The 1914 disappointment has required our re-evaluation of the details of our understanding. Holding our faith during these undirected times is a “fragrance” to our Lord. In Revelation 14, after detailing the complexities and length of the Harvest, our Lord tells us, “Here is the perseverance of the saints.” It is thus predicted that the fragrance of endurance will be needed in this time.
This marks the end of the conditions in which the Church has “dwelt” since 1799. The fourth “stop” in this journey is not a dwelling place or even a “stop.” It is a river to be crossed.
Jordan means “Judged Down.” It represents the closing of the door to the High Calling. It is not the glorification of the Church, but its completion (with some yet walking in the flesh for a short while). The “Judged Down” reference may connect to the Wise and Foolish Virgin parable. The foolish are “judged down” to a lesser reward than is received by the wise. We might say that “judgment has been handed down.” Or, we might even say that “judgment is over” as respects the 144,000. Thus Jordan brings us not to another dwelling condition, but rather to a major event: the closing of the door of the High Calling.
The Mantle of Elijah
The likelihood that this interpretation is correct is supported in 2 Kings 2:8. Elijah folded his mantle before striking the waters of the Jordan. Hebrews 1:1-12 indicates the meaning of this. “Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.”
In this text, each “heaven” (period of spiritual arrangement) changes because it becomes “old.” It is folded up because its usefulness has ended. In the context of the Hebrews text, it is the Law that is folded up. But in 2 Kings 2, it is the Gospel Age work of the Elijah class that is ended or folded up. Elijah’s authority ended at the crossing of Jordan. Whatever is left to do before the peace, Elisha would do — hence he picked up Elijah’s mantle or “authority.”
It is of interest to note that the dates suggested in our study (1799, 1843, 1874, 1914, 1945, and 1989) create a numerical palindrome. Between these dates are the following periods of years: 44 – 31 – 40 – 31 – 44. These remain the same whether we read them forward or backward. It may be the Lord’s suggestion to us that our conclusions are not accidental.