Old readers will recall that, long ago, we drew attention to the prophets Elijah and Elisha as being types of the Gospel church in its closing stages;—not types of the nominal church, but of God's true children. True, God's children will not be entirely separate and distinct from the nominal mass, until the close of the present "harvest;" but these prophets represent at first a nucleus of the true class, led into the light, to which all the faithful in Christ will be gathered; and from which will be sifted and separated all who lose the spirit of humility and true discipleship.
We saw that these two prophets typified two classes of the true children of God: that Elijah represented, so to speak, the cream of God's true church, the class called overcomers, who are to be granted the kingdom honors, at the first resurrection,—the specially holy and specially blessed of the Lord (Rev. 20:6) who will be caught up to spiritual power and glory in the time of our Lord's presence at his second advent, in the close of the harvest of this age; and that Elisha represented a class which would not be counted worthy of so great honor, because less faithful,—though the difference in faithfulness, as the reason for his exaltation, is not shown in the type.
As shown in DAWN, Vol. II., Elijah was the representative or type of the "overcomers" of the Gospel church, in their present earthly career, as the fore-runner of the glorified church, of which they shall compose a part when changed, glorified and in kingdom power; and Elisha represented a company of believers, the companions of the Elijah class and co-laborers together with them, though more on the natural plane. They too love God and are consecrated to his service, to the extent of striving to abstain from sin and to live holy lives, but not to the extent of sacrificing present rights and privileges even unto death. While they love God and love righteousness and admire the spirit of self-sacrifice and to some extent practice it, yet they are not fully on the altar as "burnt offerings" (Lev. 9:7), as all who would be of the Elijah class must be.
As the time for the "change" of the Elijah class draws nearer, the tests as to who of the living are worthy to be of the Elijah class become more and more stringent, as the import of entire consecration is more and more clearly seen. Already this fiery chariot begins to separate the classes, and it will continue to do so, more and more, during coming years, until complete. The Elisha class catches a view of the coming glory and exaltation for the overcomers, yet will not walk up to their privilege of sharing in it—will not walk worthy of that high vocation by making complete sacrifices of themselves in the service of the Lord and the Truth.
The fact that the two prophets walked side by side, and had personal acquaintance, does not imply that the two classes they represent are all personally acquainted: they may or may not know each other individually and specially; but they both walk the same road, progressing in knowledge and experience under God's leading and instruction, which, however, comes more directly and clearly to the Elijah class.
In every gathering of true children of God both classes may be found, and with many hopes and experiences similar. Both classes are consecrated, but to different degrees; and consequently to somewhat different services, and with proportionately varying degrees of spiritual insight into the Lord's plan. In some companies the Elijah class may predominate, but usually the Elisha will be the more numerous, and growingly so; for, evidently, though both classes are to be delivered from Babylon's bondage, the large majority of the "overcomers," being stronger, are already free.
The various stops made by Elijah, on his journey, while expecting exaltation, (at each of which Elisha, typifying all not overcomers, was invited to stop and go no further—see, 2 Kings 2:2,4,6), represented trials, and siftings, and separatings, here. Those who were sifted out on those various occasions do not belong to either the Elijah or the Elisha classes. To such as were sifted out, it is proper to apply the Apostle's words, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."—1 John 2:19.
These two constantly growing classes of children of God, sifted and tried and proved honest, though with different ideas and degrees of consecration, like the two typical prophets, go on together (i.e., in sympathy and interest) talking of the fact that one class is to be taken away to other scenes of joy and service, and a remaining class to continue in the world and start the work of restitution—healings of mind and body, abstaining from sin, etc. Thank God for the companionship of these two classes of his children, and for the sympathy and friendship, so profitable and encouraging to both.
But, we recently notice that a separation between these companion classes must take place. It will not, however, be in bitterness, nor in anger, nor as a result of error, we believe; but nevertheless it will be a marked division and separation of these two classes, which will continue to love and respect and fellowship each other. Each of God's true children will, according to his standing and degree of consecration and of faithfulness, be drawn into fullest sympathy with the class to which he belongs.
This conclusion, which we consider a reasonable one, is daily being forced upon us by facts which corroborate it,—by letters, etc. And we find this separation noted in the narrative of the typical prophets, where a chariot of fire parted or separated the two. We need not infer that the horses and chariot of fire which separated Elijah from Elisha will at once convey Elijah away. This we find is not the statement,—but that the fiery chariot "parted them both asunder," and after being thus parted from Elisha, Elijah was taken up "by a whirl-wind."—2 Kings 2:11.
As Elisha loved and respected and clung to Elijah to the last, and even after the separation cried after him, My father! my father!! and as he sought for and obtained (after Elijah was taken) an extra share of his spirit of consecration and power, and became his successor in the world as a teacher,—so, we may expect, will be the separation of these classes which they typified, and the results to them.
This separating is not to be esteemed a mark of divine disfavor, or an injury even, to the Elisha class: it leaves the individuals of the two classes as they were before, and assigns to each class the work for which its degree of consecration fits it. It will be in the end a blessing to both, for the sooner the Elijah class is completed and exalted, the sooner the fuller blessing of their mantle, the power and spirit of fuller consecration, will come to the Elisha class. God is testing the present probationary members of his church, by their faithfulness in following the example of their Redeemer in sacrificing their little all of earthly advantage, etc., and this test shall prove who are worthy of a place in the glorified "little flock" to whom is promised joint-heirship with the Lord Jesus. According to this crucial test, each one of the true servants must be tested. It will be for each of us to take his place, according to the depth or completeness of our consecration and the consequent fulness of our sacrifice, with either the one or the other of these classes.
If you are very faithful in walking up to the light you have, self-sacrificingly, you are one of the "overcomers," one of those represented in Elijah, and will find yourself continually in closest and growing sympathy and fellowship with others similarly desirous of sacrificing earthly advantages and plans for heavenly ones. If you are not so fully consecrated, yet one who loves God and who desires to please him in well-doing—yet not to the extent of complete self-sacrifice to his will, his plan and way—you will find yourself drawn toward other good people who love right, but who like yourself are unwilling to serve it to the extent of complete self-sacrifice. You will find yourself and them gradually becoming more interested in human restitution, faith-healing, reforms, etc., than in the prize of the high calling. And this Elisha class will have a great work of this sort to do after the Elijah class is exalted.
The time for choosing our place is rapidly passing. In fact, the choice is made almost imperceptibly; almost unconsciously some, the Elisha class, draw away from the searching, bright, spiritual, truths which are approaching more and more near, and which prove and show clearly what manner of persons we should be, sacrificing all for the great prize. Thus the Lord's fiery or spiritual, chariot, drawn by spiritual doctrines, is to do a final, separating work. But the weakest and humblest of the consecrated ones need not fear this chariot. It is your privilege to be of the Elijah class, if you will. God has invited you to this class and has made it possible for you to walk with and be of it, no matter how deficient you may be, naturally, of those sterling qualities which "overcomers" must possess. It is for us to will, and for us to lay aside every weight and hindrance and to so run as to obtain this great prize; then God will work in us to do his good pleasure. But, thank God, our overcoming is not judged by the [R1133 : page 1] amount of service we shall be able to render to our Lord, nor by the amount of honor we shall bring to our great Redeemer, but by our willingness and the earnestness of our endeavors to do and to suffer all we can in his cause.
Be our sacrifice ever so lame and imperfect, it is reckoned holy and without blemish, if we presented it to: the Father in and through the merit of our Redeemer; and if "holy and acceptable" through him (Rom. 12:1; 1 Pet. 2:5), the reward of sacrifice is ours, be our offering ever so small. But it must be a free-will offering, and it must be a whole burnt-offering; [R1133 : page 2] not the smallest piece can be kept back from the consuming fire of the altar. And none who have the spirit of the Master will seek to keep back a part of their little all; they will feel, indeed, on the contrary, that at most it is but as offering dross for a jewel, for a pearl of great value. They will rather truthfully say:—