When coming to consider the of end of days (or, “eschatology”), or the matters pertaining to the revealing of those hidden mysteries of the last days (or, “apocalyptic prophecy”), we must understand that the greatest aid to a truly saving knowledge of Church futurity will be established to the soul by none other means than that of a deep, spiritual understanding of biblical Church history! Though certainly counter-intuitive to the worldly-wise, high-minded men of our day, the way of humility before the holy Scriptures is the only way the Lord has ordained, and the only way of blessing! Men who want something for little to no effort at all, will wail at the last for the hunger pains which shall rack their souls in the straits, and in the famine of hearing the words of the Lord (Gen. 3:19; Prov. 5:11-13; Amos 8:9-14); for that they loved the willful ignorance of conceited, and self-centered apostates (Rom. 1:18-22,28; II Pet. 3:5)! Men and women also who have tragically reduced the glory of God in the hidden wisdom (I Cor. 2:6-16), which can only be attained unto by His Spirt teaching the contrite heart of the soul which humbles itself before the God from whose mouth cometh knowledge and wisdom (Prov. 2:6; Jas. 1:5,17)!… Therefore, let us humble ourselves quickly before this way in which the Spirit of the Lord leads us! To the holy Word of God!
Thus if we wish to look upon THE FINAL PROPHETIC MINISTRY, then we must bow ourselves to fully lay to heart, and attend diligently to the pulpits of the biblical-past. We must first become the sons of the prophets, if we would ever dream to be made the partaker of Elijah’s falling mantle, forecasted to fall one last time in this Last Time! The very thought of seeking understanding of prophetic fulfillments to come, when one has not abandoned their heart to first perceive the prophetic ministry in its former dispensations, must be blasphemy! For this is to wholly disregard, and disgrace the precedents which God has established through the thousands of years of foregoing Redemptive History, and this is beyond asinine — it is folly to the nth degree! As if some prestigious earthly justice, sworn to adhere to the most austere code of conduct, so dishonored his office by seeking to establish judgment in the land, void of all former case law relevant thereto! Or, would a dignified earthly attorney, ever seek to make a successful deposition before such a honorable judge, without having studied long, and duly applied himself to cite exhaustively the laws formerly established by the very judge himself? This is unthinkable, and laughable if it were not so great an offense to the decency of these noble offices!…
O my soul, how we must weep and howl, and gird up with sackcloth, for the so much more overwhelming offensiveness of unprepared men, who tread the holy loft of heaven’s courtroom, without all solemnization of mind, as they stand before the Judge of all the earth, to speak unto Him of all of the judgments, statutes, precepts, and laws which His heart and hands have framed with infinite wisdom, prudence, and awful dexterity!
“O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments. I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments. I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly.”
— Psa. 119:5-8
A brief but thorough survey of Church history as it pertained to the ten northern tribes, known as Israel, is relevant therefore as we come to consider the finality of the prophetic ministry in the Last Days. After the general departure from the faith, under the influence and carnal policy of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the northern land of Israel was overwhelmingly apostate, and without the knowledge of God, for they had departed from the practical infrastructure of redemption, established by God in the days when Moses led the children of Israel unto mount Horeb. This seminal act was so plainly declared by the son of Rehoboam, Abijah, in II Chron. 13:4-12, as it is written,
“Hear me, thou Jeroboam, and all Israel; ought ye not to know that the LORD God of Israel gave the kingdom over Israel to David for ever, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt? Yet Jeroboam the son of Nebat, the servant of Solomon the son of David, is risen up, and hath rebelled against his lord. And there are gathered unto him vain men, the children of Belial, and have strengthened themselves against Rehoboam the son of Solomon, when Rehoboam was young and tenderhearted, and could not withstand them. And now ye think to withstand the kingdom of the LORD in the hand of the sons of David; and ye be a great multitude, and there are with you golden calves, which Jeroboam made you for gods. Have ye not cast out the priests of the LORD, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, and have made you priests after the manner of the nations of other lands? so that whosoever cometh to consecrate himself with a young bullock and seven rams, the same may be a priest of them that are no gods. But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him; and the priests, which minister unto the LORD, are the sons of Aaron, and the Levites wait upon their business: and they burn unto the LORD every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense: the shewbread also set they in order upon the pure table; and the candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof, to burn every evening: for we keep the charge of the LORD our God; but ye have forsaken him. And, behold, God himself is with us for our captain, and his priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you. O children of Israel, fight ye not against the LORD God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper.”
This is an accurate caricature of the attributes which would sadly comprise the spiritual and moral climate of Israel for the two and a half centuries of their vain existence as a nation.
From Jeroboam to Omri the father of Ahab, there were numerous uprisings, none of which availed at all to reform the fallen religious standard from the days of Jeroboam. These upheavels led to Omri’s usurpation as the 4th dynasty over Israel. His son Ahab, would plunge the land into a greater, more deplorable low than had ever before been accomplished, for upon his marriage to Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, he became no more than a puppet fulfilling all of the idolatrous, blood-thirsty lusts of this filthy woman (see, I Kng. 16:30-33).
His father had built Samaria (which would remain the capital of Israel from thenceforth), after the capital of Israel had been resituated from Shechem in the days of Jeroboam, to Tirzah in the days of Baasha, but Ahab after his marriage to Jezebel built a temple therein to Baal, and a grove, yea the whole city was established around the worship of this image of jealousy! It was also at this time that many of the prophets had been cut off (I Kng. 18:4), so that as far as Elijah knew he was the only prophet of the Lord left in Israel (I Kng. 18:22;19:10,14).
Not surprisingly, on the threshold of one of the most impactful prophetic ministries to ever grace the coasts of earthly Canaan, it was at this very time in which the once solemnly-cursed city of Jericho was rebuilt, according to the final verse of I Kings 16,
“In his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid the foundation thereof in Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Joshua the son of Nun.”
This may seem as a relatively insignificant detail in the over all narrative, almost haphazardly inserted, perhaps for the sake (merely) of it not being left out… Not so, dear reader. Understanding the end from the beginning, namely, how that the prophetic ministry of Elijah would extrapolate out over the subsequent generations, and millennia of God’s people, and become the watchword for the very END OF THE WORLD, this immediate preface to the tale of Elijah’s prophetic ministry, is an inexpendable piece of furniture setting the stage!
In the smaller, and more brief setting of Israel proper (in reference to the grand scheme of all of redemptive history, which is not confined to a relatively little isolated region of the Middle East, but covers the face of the whole earth, as it is written, “The God of the whole earth shall He be called,” Isa. 54:5), Jericho served as a counterpart of that worldwide precedent which the Lord at first set forth in the ancient city of Babel (see, Gen. 11), and which arose once again in prominence above all other kingdoms in the just wrath which the Lord ordained against His rebellious people, revealed in the Babylonian Captivity. This same world-renown city of Babylon is foretold in the pages of ancient prophecy to arise once more at the end of time, in the final punishment of the almost entirely fallen Gentile Church Age, as well as the utterly blind and deluded physical seed of the Jewish people.
Jericho was the localized expression of this more excellent and consummating reality of BABYLON!
As in the beginning of time Babylon was thus set forth (see, Gen. 11), only to arise again in the end of the world; thus, likewise, was Jericho set forth at the beginning of time for the nation of Israel, yea, at their very nativity (Josh. 6).
The relevance that this testimony of the rebuilding of Jericho bears in the opening scene of the prophetic ministry of Elijah, is that it is the precursor of the end of Israel, just as the rebuilding of Babylon is a signal forerunner of THE END OF THE WORLD. Thus this was the dreadful catalyst to the “end of the world” as far as Israel was concerned. Even as the inferior rebuilding of Babylon, ordained to make war against Jerusalem and Judah (approximately 586 BC), meant the “end of the world” for the chief seat of all religion and light in the world!
Therefore, Elijah was in very deed an end-time prophet, and thus the precedent for all restoration generations to follow, and would prefigure THE FINAL PROPHETIC MINISTRY like no other prophet before him, and everyone following bearing his same mantle, would only shed further light upon the spirit and power of the anointing upon this original prophet.
This is the ominous backdrop for the ascension of Elijah the Tishbite.