Job considered himself a member of a fallen race. His profound question, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” is often used to show that a ransom to redeem man cannot come from the fallen human race. Therefore, some being from outside the human race had to provide the Ransom for Adam. To think of someone lifting this sin-benighted, diseased earth out of the quagmire of sin would be hopeless if the matter were viewed from the natural standpoint, for the human race is beyond human repair. Only Divinity can provide a solution.
1 & 2 Kings
The account in 2 Kings 9:1–10:28 regarding Jehu, who was at the battle in Ramoth-gilead, is a more complete picture. He was responsible for the death of Jezebel, and it might be said that he is the individual who shot the arrow. Elisha sent one of the sons of the prophets to tell Jehu that the God of Israel had determined he would be the successor of King Jehoram of Israel. In other words, the messenger precipitated the circumstances, and Jehu mortally wounded Jehoram. Thus there is a similarity in that both kings of Israel were slain: Ahab and Jehoram.
Elijah was to give a message to Ahab, condemning the seizing of Naboth’s vineyard and telling the king his destiny. “Thus saith the LORD, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine.” In regard to his posterity, it was prophesied, “Him that dieth of Ahab in the city the dogs shall eat; and him that dieth in the field shall the fowls of the air eat.” And of Jezebel, it was said, “The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.” From a historical standpoint, these prophecies led up to a future judgment to show the guilt of Ahab and Jezebel personally and a pending judgment upon what they represent. When Jezebel was slain by Jehu, he said, “This is the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel: And the carcase of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field in the portion of Jezreel; so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel” (2 Kings 9:36,37). The destiny of Jezebel, as pronounced by Elijah earlier, was then fulfilled.
That text describes the attractiveness of the false system, but we do not think it applies to Jezebel’s motive with Jehu. She looked out the window with regality the way the pope looks out the window over St. Peter’s Square and a past pope went out to meet the barbarians with the triple crown, jewels, and luxurious clothing. Jezebel will want to awe, distract, momentarily shock, and thus change Jehu’s thinking and intention to work mischief. The pope has a unique office as head of both the Papacy and the Roman Catholic Church. When he looks out the window in his white robes, the papal banner is seen, and a red carpet is thrown over the windowsill. The people below in the square get down on their knees to kneel before him.
The angel of God said, “Go down with him. Do not be afraid.” Here is an insight into Elijah’s character. His waiting for instruction before going to Ahaziah shows that although the prophet spoke strongly, he did so only when he felt it was the Lord’s will. This lesson is good for Christians to remember so that they do not get too strong or brave in their own strength. To please the Lord, they need the full assurance of faith that they are doing the right thing. Thus, after being assured by the angel as to what God’s will was for him, Elijah obeyed promptly— regardless of any natural inclinations. He arose and went with the captain to King Ahaziah.
The sons of the prophets who were in a school at Bethel came forth to Elisha and said, “Don’t you know that God will take away Elijah, your master, from off your head today?” How unusual that all the sons of the prophets had been informed of the expectation, as well as Elisha, who said, “Yes, I know it.” The details are not supplied as to how the expectation was known.
What in the antitype indicates that they would be aware of the imminence of the departure of the Elijah class? Current events will become so conspicuous that they will know the time is drawing close for the completion of the Elijah class, the Church, the Little Flock. As Jesus said, “When [you see] these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption [deliverance] draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).
At the end of the contest with the 450 prophets of Baal, the drought of 3 1/2 years also ended, picturing in the antitype the year 1799, the end of the long 1,260-year period of famine for the Word of God. The time periods indicated after Elijah fled from Jezebel in Jezreel are (1) the day’s journey into the wilderness when he separated from his servant and (2) the 40 days and nights of travel, which represent, respectively, one year and 40 years. What are the 40 years in the antitype?
A son of the prophets asked in the name of the Lord that he be smitten. The one who disobeyed “the voice of the LORD” by refusing to do the smiting was slain by a lion. Then that prophet found another man and said, “Smite me.” This time the man smote him but only wounded him instead of killing him. Next the same prophet departed and, disguising himself, waited for King Ahab to come along. As Ahab passed by, the prophet cried out, “I went out into the midst of the battle, and behold, a soldier brought a man to me and said, ‘Keep this man. If by any means he is missing, your life shall be for his life, or else you will pay a talent of silver.’ And as your servant was busy here and there, the man was gone.” Ahab said to the disguised prophet, “So shall your judgment be. You yourself have decided it.” When the prophet removed the disguise, Ahab recognized him as one of the prophets. The prophet then pronounced judgment on Ahab for letting go the man (Ben-hadad) whom God had devoted to destruction. Ahab went back to Samaria “resentful and sullen” (see RSV). Subsequently Ahab mourned and repented, so the destruction of his house was delayed until his son came on the scene (see chapter 21).
What does Naboth’s vineyard represent? We are inclined to think it was the Lord’s vineyard before Constantine’s day because Naboth was betrayed and Jezebel was involved in the acquisition of his vineyard and death (verse 15). Naboth himself represents the Lord’s true people, who had custody of the vineyard. We are reminded of the vineyard in Song 1:6. Naboth was betrayed and slain as an individual. The Elijah picture commences in A.D. 539, the beginning of the 1,260 years, whereas the Naboth class existed earlier. Constantine called together various religious groups and took advice from pagan priests.
Notice that Solomon started out with an individual: “If any man trespass against his neighbour….” (1 Kings 8:31). Then he prayed with regard to the nation being taken into captivity and wanting restoration: “When thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy….” (verse 33). Out of respect for what God had said earlier, he asked that the Temple be a magnet in connection with making the people’s prayers effective. Now he talked about the withholding of rain, which was also a subject in Moses’ dissertation. The withholding of rain, which brought crop failure, also meant that the Israelites had sinned. In that case, Solomon asked for an instructor to show the people the error of their way: “Teach them the good way wherein they should walk [so that they can retrace their steps].” Solomon’s prayer contained a wide range of thinking.