Elijah: “The Prophetic Hinge”

Eliahu (Elijah) written in Hebrew

Ronald B. Allen wrote a nice article (“Elijah the Broken Prophet” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 22.3 [1979], 193-202) on Elijah’s life and ministry. Though I do not fully agree with each point Allen makes, the essay is helpful. I’ll put the best part of the essay here:

“…It is not just in miraculous displays that Elijah points forward to Jesus. It is pre-eminently in the fact that ‘Elijah the second Moses’ is still not the Prophet greater than Moses…; he is rather the hinge-figure that keeps that hope alive. Just as Moses with manna, and Jesus with the multitudes hungry on the shore of Galilee, so Elijah is connected with miraculous provisions of food…. Further, he portends the resurrection miracles of our Lord when he is used of Yahweh to bring back to life the dead son of his benefactress…, whereas, she, in turn, is the Syrophonecian believer in the OT…. Elijah’s role in the rain controversy is also recalled in the many instances of Jesus’ control over weather phenomena: Baal is still a fake!”

“Finally, may we not see in Elijah’s despair in the wilderness something similar to Jesus’ ordeal in Gethsemane? In both cases there was a time of tumultuous decision-making in determining to drink the cup of the Father’s will. Though a broken prophet, Elijah does not remain broken. His ministry continued in the record of the book of Kings. His name became a messianic designation…. And he – with Moses – talked with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration – fades before him, so that the three disciples on looking again ‘saw no one except Jesus himself alone.'”

Here’s how Allen closes the essay: “…Elijah was seen in in a heilsgeschichtliche continuity to be the prophetic hinge between Moses and Jesus. He is a second Moses who still ranks lower than the great prophet Messiah.”

I like that term “prophetic hinge.” While Allen didn’t go too far into it, there are so many parallels between Moses/Israel and Elijah. I’ve counted around 10; there are no doubt more, which in turn again brings us to the Messiah.

shane lems

sunnyside wa