Chapter VII. — Three Baptisms in Type

An Old Testament Word Picture

So he [Elijah] departed thence, and found Elisha. … who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him. … and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him. … Then he arose, and went after Elijah. 1 Kings 19:19, 21.

And Elijah took his mantle and. … smote the waters and. … they two went over on dry ground. 2 Kings 2:8.

He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him. 2 Kings 2:13.

To all who are acquainted with their foreshadowing truths Old Testament types stand out with grandeur of conception and minuteness of detail. No human mind could ever imagine anything more edifying and exquisitely beautiful than the truths which are mirrored in the vast arrangement of Old Testament typology. Yet it should be borne in mind that New Testament truth, particularly doctrine, cannot be established by these types. Doctrine is founded on the plain declarations of Scripture, chiefly the Church Epistles, and these must not be explained so as to fit in with any Old Testament picture. The true type must answer to the doctrine, and not the doctrine to the type, if we are rightly to divide the Word of Truth. We have always maintained that it is not a sound method of interpretation to build New Testament truth, particularly doctrine, on types, incidents, or prophecy. We are therefore viewing the call of Elisha from the field, his passing through the Jordan, and his equipment for service, as a type, because it corresponds with the teaching of the New Testament.

The believer's separation from his former life answers to Elisha's separation from his former life as antitype to type. The believer passing through the waters of baptism answers to Elisha passing through the river Jordan. The believer receiving an equipment for service answers to Elisha receiving the mantle of Elijah. In this Old Testament word picture we see Elijah the prophet clothed with a mantle that hangs loosely upon his shoulders. In the background of the picture is the field, and in the field a ploughman named Elisha, ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen. As we meditate, the picture begins to live, for the prophet wends his way towards the field in the distance, and when it is reached he touches the ploughman with his mantle and makes him his disciple. Elisha becomes the follower of the great prophet, and after passing through various experiences, including his passage through the Jordan, he receives as a gift the mantle that had touched him when in the field of former days.

Type And Antitype.

The Prophet: a type of the Saviour.

The Mantle: a type of the Holy Spirit.

The Ploughman: a type of the Sinner.

The Field: a type of the World.

Elijah the prophet is an outstanding character in Old Testament Scriptures. He was a wonderful man because the God of wonders was with him. Elijah believed in the essentially supernatural element of his religion, and accordingly experienced the miraculous in his ministry. Yet in face of his great works and mighty accomplishments in the name of his God, some of which we enumerate, we are told that he was an ordinary man, subject to like passions as his fellow men.

Elijah locks the heavens.

And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. 1 Kings 17:1.

Heavens unlocked three-and-a-half years later.

And Elijah said unto Ahab, get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. … And it came to pass in the meanwhile, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. 1 Kings 18:41, 45.

Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. James 5:17, 18.

Miraculously fed in time of amine.

And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook. 1 Kings 17:6.

Multiplied meal and oil.

And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which He spake by Elijah. 1 Kings 17:15, 16.

Raised the dead.

And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him. And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth. 1 Kings 17:17, 22, 23.

Fire descends from heaven.

And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that Thou art God in Israel, and that I am Thy servant, and that I have done all these things at Thy word. Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that Thou art the Lord God, and that Thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, He is the God; the Lord, He is the God. 1 Kings 18:36-39.

God's Friends.

Combined with Elijah's faithful service was the close intimacy, that worshipful communion and sweet fellowship that mark him out as God's friend, like Abraham, and as His companion, like Enoch. These three characters in the Old Testament were destined to stand out conspicuously throughout future dispensations as examples to all believers. It would not surprise us if we were told that Elijah was definitely informed beforehand of his translation to be with his God. The revelation might easily have been given during one of those heart-to-heart talks together. We are definitely told that Elijah before he was caught up called Elisha from the plough to the service of God. It was evidently part of the plan for Elisha to become his successor in the prophet's office. God's way of calling to a service so important is very unlike man's way. If the choice had been left to an ecclesiastical council consideration might only be given to applicants with tall foreheads, blue blood in the veins, or with letters to their names. Not so with God, as we see in the following appointments: —

Moses called to be law-giver and statesman.

Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto Me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth My people the children of Israel out of Egypt. Exodus 3:1, 9, 10.

Gideon called to be field marshal.

And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house. And the Lord said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man. Judges 6:14-16.

David called to be king.

And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and, behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither. … Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. 1 Sam. 16:11-13.

Let us now consider the typical import of the narrative before us.

Type And Antitype.

Type - Elisha leaves the field to follow Elijah.

And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah. … and ministered unto him. 1 Kings 19:20, 21.

Antitype - Disciples leave the world to follow Christ.

And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptised? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptised with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on Him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. Acts 19:3, 4.

The touch of Elijah's mantle resulted in the ploughman breaking up his wooden ploughs, and bidding farewell to the field and his acquaintances. Something had happened in his experience that day that meant dying to the old and living in the new. The field could no longer hold him, for contact with Elijah had created an urge within to follow the prophet. It was the beginning of days for him, for he began to live in a new world. He was planted in the likeness of death to the past life, and resurrected to a new life in the future. It was the same with the Ephesian disciples whom Elisha typifies. They had repented, and had turned from the world to follow Christ, as they were taught by John the Baptist. The regenerating touch of the Saviour meant to them the breaking up of old acquaintances, the destruction of sinful habits and separation from the world. Regeneration had created an urge within to leave the old paths and follow the new. They were planted in the likeness of Christ's death, and were raised in newness of life; and this life called for a new walk, new pleasures, and new companions. Until the sinner accepts Christ as Saviour, he merely exists, even though he may be extremely religious; but the moment he comes into contact with Him he begins to live. Elisha having left, the field is called to go through a series of tests as the 2nd chapter of the 2nd book of Kings shows. "Tarry here, I pray thee, for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel,” said Elijah, giving Elisha an opportunity to cease following. But the answer is soon given, “As the Lord liveth and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee." Bethel is reached and the second time the disciple is tested, "Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee, for the Lord hath sent me to Jericho,” and again the reply is the same. Jericho is reached, and for the third and last test the way that leads to Jordan is chosen by the disciple rather than retirement at Jericho — "And they two went on."

Elisha had learned to trust his master under all kinds of circumstances, and when he decides to follow he is assured of his presence with him. How encouraging the words of our Lord are to His disciples — "I will never leave thee."

The disciple can trust the One who through the touch of regeneration caused him to leave the world of sin, to break up the old associations, and to leave all, for he is assured that he will never be forsaken by his Lord.

Jordan is reached, and Elisha is to witness the great miracle of the dividing of the waters.

Type - Through the waters with Elijah.

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. 2 Kings 2:8.

Antitype - Through the waters with Christ.

When they heard this, they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. Acts 19:5.

The mantle that had separated Elisha from the field now makes a unique baptismal font right in the heart of Jordan. The waters miraculously divided hither and thither are walled up on both sides. The pathway is ready and soon Elisha follows Elijah into that which mirrored the baptism of believers in the New Testament. They went down to the bed of Jordan, walked right through, and came up again the other side.

Here the disciple is seen passing through the same waters as his Master. What a beautiful picture of those Ephesian disciples who, having believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, followed Him through the waters of baptism.

Elisha having passed typically from death into life when touched by the mantle in the field, having also passed through the typical waters of baptism, is about to experience a third baptism in type — the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The day of Elijah's translation to heaven came, and the revelation is made known to the disciple. Elisha chose the proffered parting gift, "Let a double portion of thy Spirit be upon me," and they both went on together. Then the heavens are opened, and in the distance is seen the flaming chariot. It comes nearer and nearer until the sand of the desert is disturbed, and when near enough Elijah steps into the chariot and is taken heavenward. Then as the flaming chariot with its privileged passenger ascends, the silence of the desert is broken by the clear ringing notes of the lone disciple. "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof." The Scripture says, "he cried — it was no whispering undertone: Elisha, the disciple, rent the air with his cries until they reached the ears of the departing prophet. If any of the conservative sons of the prophet were near enough we feel sure they would have tried to restrain the enthusiast. They would have advised him to say the words quietly, that there was no need for such a noise, and not to be so emotional. But to Elisha the occasion demanded wholehearted surrender of all he possessed, even his vocal organs to praise the God of Israel while waiting for the mantle. Sanctified emotion did not seem out of place to one who had received the promise of power for service. His master was departing, and it behoved him to be full-throated as well as full-hearted in his quest of the desired blessing. How of ten have we met religious people in our day who regard all audible praise as mere emotion. It is not to be wondered at that they do not experience revival, for there can be no revival without the sanctified praises of God's people. Why such folk consider praise and ejaculations during times of revival as noise is because their hearts are not tuned in to heaven. If they were, the cries of the penitent, and the singing of the loud and full-throated praises of the redeemed, would fall upon their ears as the most exquisite harmony.

The departing prophet must have been tuned in to the cries of Elisha, for it was not long until the answer came —

Type - The mantle of power descends.

He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan. 2 Kings 2:13.

Antitype - The Holy Spirit descends.

And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Hoy Ghost came on them, and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. Acts 19:6.

The mantle that had brought Elisha into newness of life when in the field, and had made the passage through the waters of Jordan possible, now clothed him with power. The antitype in the 19th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles also reveals the order in which the Ephesian disciples received the Holy Spirit. Firstly, they were convicted of their sins by the Holy Spirit, and had left the world to follow Christ, whom John the Baptist preached. Secondly, they followed in the footsteps of their Lord, for they were baptised in His Name. Thirdly, the Holy Spirit came upon them as the Apostle laid his hands upon them.

Elisha in the desert was alone, yet not alone, for he possessed the very mantle which had so mightily clothed- Elijah. True, his master had gone, but he possessed his power. Elisha is to be pardoned if he was anxious to put the mantle to immediate test, for it is not long until he stands at the bank of Jordan. If the religious sons of the prophets had met him before he reached the bank they might have argued with him thus, "It is no use exercising yourself Elisha, for the supernatural power was withdrawn when your master ascended. You must join us now, and like us live in the higher plane of faith without signs or miracles. The supernatural element was necessary in the days of Elijah, when he had to contend with the mighty Ahab, but now that we are living in a different and more enlightened dispensation it is quite unnecessary.”

But all the arguments that the sons of the prophets might raise were doomed to fall before the demonstration that followed. Elisha, clothed with the same mantle, smote the waters of Jordan, and they were walled up again as they were in the days of Elijah —

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. … 2 Kings 2:14. The disciples mentioned in the Acts received an equipment for service when the Holy Spirit came upon them, and, as with the disciples at Pentecost, the Spirit took possession of their vocal organs, and they spoke with tongues and also prophesied. They had been baptised into the death of Christ when they in faith accepted the Lamb of God who had come to take away their sins. Like Isaiah the prophet they could say, "The Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” They experienced the second baptism when they went through the waters in the name of the Lord Jesus. The third baptism which these Ephesian disciples experienced was that of the Holy Spirit. Like Elisha they had received power for service from the One who had made them disciples. The Master had departed, but His power remained!