Clothed with Power
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued ( = clothed) with power from on high. And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen.
Ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost
For John truly baptised with water, but ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
Shortly before Jesus ascended back into heaven He told His disciples that they would be baptised with the Holy Spirit. This was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2. The church was born, and everyone of those one hundred and twenty men and women, in that upper room on that day, were baptised into the body of Christ. From that moment on the benefits of Christ’s redeeming work at Calvary were made available to all who believe.
The purpose Jesus gives to His disciples is that they were to be witnesses unto Him, not for Him but unto Him. As we progress through the book of Acts we see that quite clearly. In the Luke reference above, we have an interesting aspect of this baptism. Jesus said to the disciples that they would be endured with power. The word endured meaning ‘to be clothed with’!
This leads us to look at our antepenultimate type regarding this baptism into Christ. The ascension of Elijah and the commissioning of Elisha in his place.
In brief, Elijah (=God is Jehovah) had come to the end of his ministry, and God was to translate him to heaven without seeing death. Elisha (=Salvation of my God) was to take over in Elijah’s place. When Elijah was taken up his mantle (coat) fell down and Elisha clothed himself with it, and went about discharging his commission.
In type we see Elijah as Christ ascending into heaven, his mantle representing the Holy Spirit. Elisha, typifying the Church, being clothed from on high and taking up the mantle. In short the episode in II Kgs. 2 is a picture of the ascension of Christ and the sending forth of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
It is necessary I go away
And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel. And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho. And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace. And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the LORD hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on. And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan. And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground. And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces. He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.
This handing over the reins is a unique experience in all of scripture. Nowhere else do we have a record of a prophet handing over to another prophet in this way. Here we will concentrate on the salient points.
The first point to note is that at every turn of the journey these two men made Elisha was reminded of Elijah’s imminent departure. In the gospels, as Calvary approached, Jesus spoke more and more of His departure from His disciples, but also of the promise of the coming of the Spirit especially in the section Jn.14-16.
Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
These three chapters are full of Jesus’ teaching regarding the Holy Spirit. However for our purposes we note that Jesus emphasised that He had to go away in order for the Spirit to come. Whilst on Earth Jesus was located in one place only, from the time of His ascension and the sending forth the Spirit He has always been with all His disciples. This is what He promised before His ascension, Mtt. 28:18-20.
The coming of the Spirit makes the finished work of Jesus available to all who believe.
A Double portion
Elisha, knowing that Elijah was to be taken away, made a strange request. He asked for a double portion of Elijah’s Spirit. A careful look at the ministries of these two prophets will reveal that the record of the number of miracles of Elisha’s is much more than that of Elijah’s. Of course we have no way of knowing what other miracles may have taken place in either men’s lives outside of the Biblical record. However the records that we do have indicate the double portion operating in Elisha’s life.
We are reminded of Jesus’ words to His disciples.
Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
Jesus said that because He was going to the Father, then those who believe on Him shall do greater works than Him! Here we see the comparison between Elijah and Elisha, and Jesus and His followers. In both cases the latter would do greater works.
This is not to be understood by saying of greater quality but rather greater in quantity. Jesus, now being at the Father’s right hand, is not limited to one place on the earth but works through His people all over the globe.
In fact Luke says that the book of Acts records the continuing works and teaching of Jesus, Acts.1:1.
A strange journey
So where does the symbol of baptism come into all of this? Reading the text once more we note that Elijah went on a strange journey with Elisha in attendance. Starting at Gilgal they moved to Bethel and then to Jericho and finally to Jordan. At the river Elijah, taking his mantle, smote the waters and the waters divided and both of them went over on dry ground!
Exactly the same picture as at the Red Sea, and of the children of Israel entering the Promised land. The waters parted and they went over on dry land. They were in type both baptised, and Elisha was baptised with the baptism that Elijah was baptised with. This reminds us of Jesus’ words.
And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.
As we have seen before in this series, those who are baptised into Christ are identified with His death and resurrection. Consequently they become beneficiaries of His victorious death and resurrection. This picture of Elijah and Elisha typifies this truth.
Gilgal, we saw this with Joshua, where circumcision reintroduced the rite. This was the basic preparation for the children of Israel to enter the promised land. It had to be fulfilled.
Bethel means the house of God. Here the sons of the prophets remarked to Elisha that the Lord would take away His head. Here we have the idea of the head and body, this typifying the believers being baptised into one body with Christ the Head.
We can also see the house of God reference. In Hebrews we read that we are His house Heb.3:6, where He dwells. The discourses of Jesus in Jn.14-16 give us the meanings to this. This baptism brings us not only into the death and resurrection of Christ but also into His church; we also are built into a house wherein He dwells.
The next port of call was Jericho. This was the first city that the Israelites defeated when entering the promised land. We note from Joshua that everyone, except for Rahab and those in her house, were to be destroyed, and all the spoils given wholly to God. (It was Achan’s failure in this that caused Israel’s defeat at Ai) Josh.6:17-19.
In this baptism into Christ all the old has to be destroyed. This of course has been a repeated theme in the types throughout, and is explained by II Cor.5:17.
Putting off to put on
Elisha could not have hadElijah’s mantle until his head was removed. Likewise the Holy Spirit could not have been poured out until Jesus had ascended and been glorified.
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
In the account in II Kgs. 2 we see that once Elijah had been taken up, Elisha cried and rent his own clothes then took up the mantle of Elijah. This symbolising putting off the old man and putting on the new so that he could move out in the life God had for him.
This baptism shows putting off the works of self effort and impotence and being filled with the power of the Spirit to be witnesses unto Jesus; the book of Acts shows how this all works out
This type shows us that this baptism into Christ is to be clothed (endued) with power from on high. It brings us into the body of Christ and we become part of His house wherein He dwells. The impotence of self effort is done away with and we become witnesses unto Jesus. It also shows the necessity of Jesus’ ascension into heaven so that He could send the Sprit for us to do the greater works on the earth.