I have had a rough week this week. My normal ability to shove doubt down and cover it with Biblical promises has been weakened, and to say that a feeling of overwhelming hopelessness and despair has set in would be an understatement. I have been on the edge of tears for days. This has been a very rough week for holding on to the faith in the midst of everything. This week has been one where I’ve had only the strength to throw myself at His feet and tell him the burdens are too heavy. I suppose that when the worry and doubt is too persistent, when the burden of intercession and repentance becomes too heavy to carry, it only seems fitting to go to the Creator of my weak arms and ask for help. So, that’s been my prayer this week. I think sometimes, I’m too stubborn, or dense maybe, to go to God himself when things become too rough. I forget too easily that this God I worship is more than the omnipotent creator of all that is; He is also the omnipresent Father that I sometimes so desperately need to just hold me close and remind me that “Daddy has this.”
Last night, I curled up at His feet once more, looking for the rest I need. I awoke this morning and felt less burdened, but much more like I needed to spend some serious Word time today. So, I opened my Bible – not with the intent of reading where it opened, but simply to lay it open on the table so I’d be ready to sit down and read as soon as I got my daughter off to school.
I got home, I poured a cup of coffee and wandered over to the table where my Bible lay open. I noticed it was opened already to 2 Kings, chapter 2 specifically. I opted to just start there. I was hoping for there to be some sort of supernatural word meant just for my ears this morning – one of those moments when something read in the canon of scripture just knocks you loopy and you know it was meant for you at this exact time and place. When I began reading, though, I was pretty sure this wasn’t going to be one of those times.
Sometimes, I’m very wrong.
Contained in 2 Kings is a story that I’ve heard time and time again in Bible study and Sunday school. The story of Elijah being taken away in a fiery chariot, and his mantle falling upon Elisha is one I could tell without cracking the Book, I think. I won’t lie. I’ve heard the story so much that the idea of reading it again bored me. (Nothing says “my faith may have grown stale” like being bored by the story of God’s power falling on a prophet. Sigh.)
I read it anyway, though – carefully, in the hopes that I’d catch something new that I needed to hear. As I read the portion where Elisha asks only to “inherit two shares” of Elijah’s spirit, my mind began to wander. Elijah was broadly considered to be the most powerful of all the prophets. Elijah was also one of the two on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus as told in the gospels, the other being Moses. This, of course got me thinking about the entire episode on the Mount of Transfiguration – and digging for information on Moses and Elijah. Why would it be those two in particular that joined Jesus on the mount? Elijah never suffered a recorded earthly death. He was “taken” by God. The only other person to be taken was Enoch. So why not Elijah and Enoch? What’s the common denominator between Moses and Elijah?
Jesus was the Christ – the Word made flesh, according to John. We understand the “word” to be the holy scriptures – God’s little instruction book for us. Before the death and resurrection of Jesus the “word” was considered the scrolls of the “law and the prophets.” Matthew tells us that, during his sermon on the mount, Jesus says that he “came not to abolish them [law and the prophets], but to fulfill them” (Matt 5:17). Moses was the giver of the Law. It was from God’s own finger that the Law was handed down to Moses, who brought them down from Sinai. Moses was the symbol for the Law of God. Elijah was the greatest of the OT prophets. He was granted incredible power by the very Spirit of God. Elijah was the symbol for the Prophets of God.
Photo credit: Howard David Johnson
As I thought about the Transfiguration, it became clear – Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. Not the abolishment, but the fulfillment. Everything in history, from Eden on, was leading up to that point – the fulfillment of the law and the prophecies. That is why Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus. It was a powerful revelation to all who understood the importance of Moses and Elijah as it related to Judaism and the establishment of the original covenant. It was the revelation that Jesus was both beginning and end of everything. By his coming death and resurrection was the fulfillment of the promise of God – the redemption of man from his original sin in Eden.
This study – this Word – was going to take more than 1 cup of coffee. The ravens were (and still are) cackling and my mind was racing with the parallels in scripture at a pace with which I could not keep up.
I poured another cup of coffee.
I sat back down and began to think about that last part: Jesus was the fulfillment of the Promise – the redemption of man from his original sin in Eden. I turned to Genesis 1.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness.”
“In the beginning…” There’s another place where those words were used in scripture. I turned to John 1.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
In the beginning of all we know, God began creating our existence and our domain. The first thing He created was light, and then He separated it from the darkness. John says that “in the beginning” was the Word, and the Word was with God and was God. It says that all things were made though him. In HIM was life and the light of men. God not only created light, He is light, manifest in Jesus, and Jesus says (John 8:12) “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John reminds us that the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it.
I thought about this in light of all I have been facing this last year, (2 years, really). From the start, these battles have not been “normal. They are other-worldly. The verse that has been coming to remembrance this last year, and most especially since September, is Ephesians 6:12. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
“Powers over this present darkness” – Yet, John reminded us that the light will not be overcome by darkness. That the Light was separated from the darkness since the beginning. Not only that, but the Light (the Word) is “the light of men.” Since the beginning, Satan has been adversarial of man. His sole focus to destroy the relationship between God and humanity.
Because we took his place. Satan, before he was Satan, was Lucifer (Hebrew: “helel” brightness), the Morningstar, the light-bearer. Jesus is the Light, which means that, as an “anointed guardian cherub” he guarded the glory of God himself. (Cherubs are the angels seen around the throne of God, those that sing Holy, Holy, Holy…) When Lucifer became prideful, and sought to have the glory of God himself, God cast him down – He separated the darkness from the Light. When Jesus came, His purpose was to fulfill the law and the prophets, and to make a way of redemption for us to God – to make a way for us to obtain God’s favor once again, by coming to Him through Christ. When we do that, we become joint heirs, bearers and bringers of the Light to the rest of the world lost in darkness.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:14 – from the Sermon on the Mount)
By accepting the free gift of redemption and restoration that is offered through Christ, we finally accept our restored position as bringers and bearers of the Light. We are, by our deeds and actions as the redeemed, the ones who cry “holy, holy, holy” at the foot of the throne. We have displaced Lucifer. Not only that, but we are loved with an everlasting love. We are not angels. We are “a little higher than the angels” because He has made us His own though our own free will. We have chosen Him, and He has chosen us.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
This is why Ezekiel and Moses were on the Mount – they were our reminder that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law, and the Prophets, and as such, we now had a way to be redeemed back to our original purpose – as children of God who walk with Him, who bear witness to the Light, and give glory to the One who separated Light from Darkness.
This other-worldly battle is not the end. It is a distraction to take from us the reminder of the truth. It is meant to make us doubt the Word – to forget the Light. (And here is the important part) It is meant to make us stop singing “Holy Holy Holy!” It is meant to silence our praises because GOD INHABITS THE PRAISES OF HIS PEOPLE! (PS. 22:3)
O God! May I never forget!