Elijah's Three Tasks
Bill Somers
 
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: Mal 4:5

The verse quoted above should be a very important part of our end time prophetic vision. The obvious reason, pointed out by many, is that it gives a sign to look for, that must precede the Day of the Lord. Many have written that they expect to see a movement or ministry that would function like Elijah did. Men and women moving in the spirit and power or Elijah. Some are even expecting Elijah himself to come in the flesh!
The second reason is that this verse links the ministry of Elijah with the End Times. I find that there is something very special about the story of Elijah as related in the Books of the Kings.

King Solomon takes up 11 chapters of 1 Kings. Jereboam has chapters 12, 13 and half of 14. Chapter 15 and 16 take us through a group of succeeding kings taking us up to Ahab.

Elijah comes along in chapter 17 and continues to the end of 1 Kings in chapter 22 and takes up again in 2 Kings. Elijah's ministry is carried on by Elisha who finally dies at the end of chapter 13. That makes 19 chapters in all. In these 19 chapters we find a great wealth of types and allegories of the End Times.

Our opening quote from Malachi 4:5 is referred to in the Gospel of Mathew.

And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.
But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.
Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist. Mat 17:10-13
Note here that in verse 11 Jesus says Elias [Elijah] shall come, and in verse 12 He says Elias has already come! And they understood that He meant that John the Baptist was Elijah! This is a multiple fulfillment of Malachi 4:5. John the Baptist fulfilled it and it will be fulfilled again in the future.
This indicates that John the Baptist carried out the role or tasks of Elijah in Jesus time. And we can expect this to occur again in our time. It also means that God is operating according to a certain pattern in the way he works things out. This pattern was set forth in the ministry of Elijah. The pattern was repeated in the ministry of John the Baptist and will be repeated again.

What this pattern is can be found by looking at the three tasks of Elijah.

The major points in Elijah's ministry are these:

1. He has a first confrontation with Ahab,
2. He is secluded for 3 and a half years,
3. He returns and holds a sacrifice on Mt. Carmel,
4. He flees from Jezebel to Mt. Horeb,
5. He returns from Mt. Horeb to carry out his three fold commission,
6. He meets with Ahab in Naboth's vineyard,
7. He is taken up into heaven.
Item 3 here is especially important. It gives us a great picture of confrontation with evil and triumphing over it. It is also a foreshadow of end time revival and harvest. But we are going to take a look at item 5, the three fold commission of Elijah.
What exactly was it?

And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:
And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.
And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay. 1 Kings 19:15-17
A Pattern is Set.
Elijah was told to go and anoint Hazael, Jehu and Elisha. Elisha was to be the new prophet coming after Elijah. Jehu was to be the New King of Israel. And Hazael to be the new King of Syria. In these cases the prophet acts as the spokesman and agent of God. He passes along to the person being anointed, God's power and authority to carry out a particular office. That is he places a mantle or commission from God on a particular person to do a particular job.
We know that Samuel anointed Saul and David. The Kings were sometimes anointed by prophets this way. It is also common for prophets to anoint other prophets and pass along their gifts or mantles this way. What is so curious here is Hazael! What is the point of having Elijah anoint the King of Syria, the leader of Israel's enemies?

We find in 1 Kings 19 where Elijah recruits Elisha.

1 Kings 19:19 So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him.
And later in 2 Kings 2, Elijah finally passes the mantle to Elisha.
2 Kings 2:
9 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.
10 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.
11 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.
12 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.
13 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan;
In 2 Kings 9, Jehu is anointed. But not by Elijah, who has been taken up into heaven by then. And it's not by Elisha either but by one of his servants.
2 Kings 9:
1 ¶ And Elisha the prophet called one of the children of the prophets, and said unto him, Gird up thy loins, and take this box of oil in thine hand, and go to Ramothgilead:
2 And when thou comest thither, look out there Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi, and go in, and make him arise up from among his brethren, and carry him to an inner chamber;
3 Then take the box of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, Thus saith the LORD, I have anointed thee king over Israel. Then open the door, and flee, and tarry not.
And we read in 2 Kings 8, how Elisha anoints Hazael.
2 King 8:
7 And Elisha came to Damascus; and Benhadad the king of Syria was sick; and it was told him, saying, The man of God is come hither.
8 And the king said unto Hazael, Take a present in thine hand, and go, meet the man of God, and enquire of the LORD by him, saying, Shall I recover of this disease?
9 So Hazael went to meet him, and took a present with him, even of every good thing of Damascus, forty camels' burden, and came and stood before him, and said, Thy son Benhadad king of Syria hath sent me to thee, saying, Shall I recover of this disease?
10 And Elisha said unto him, Go, say unto him, Thou mayest certainly recover: howbeit the LORD hath shewed me that he shall surely die.
11 And he settled his countenance stedfastly, until he was ashamed: and the man of God wept.
12 And Hazael said, Why weepeth my lord? And he answered, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel: their strong holds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash their children, and rip up their women with child.
13 And Hazael said, But what, is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing? And Elisha answered, The LORD hath shewed me that thou shalt be king over Syria.
Notice here that Elisha did not actually pass a mantle or physically anoint Hazael. He did however acknowledge him as the new King of Syria. And recognize that he would be carrying out judgment against Israel.
In some ways this reminds me of Moses before Pharaoh in Exodus 12, when Pharaoh says

"Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also." Exodus 12: 32
So Elijah's three tasks were to raise up a new prophet, anoint a new king, and acknowledge or authorize a new enemy to execute judgment. He did not personally complete all three, his successor did some of it. Because he has left the scene before it is all completed.
The pattern repeated.

How does this compare with what John the Baptist did?
In Mark 1 we read:

Mark 1:
9 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.
10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:
Here John did not anoint, he baptized. The effect however is the same. Jesus was the new prophet who succeeded John. For John said,
He must increase but I must decrease. John 3:30
Jesus is also the new King of Israel. John also leaves the scene before the third task is finished.
The new 'king of Syria' is Judas Iscariot, the man of perdition. And Jesus 'anoints' or authorizes him to carry out judgment in the following passage.

John 13:
21 When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
22 Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake.
23 Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.
24 Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake.
25 He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?
26 Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.
27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.
Here the judgment is not against Israel the nation, but against Israel personified, namely Jesus Himself. But all three elements of the commission are fulfilled. And the three characters are in parallel.
Elijah is to Elisha is to Hazael as John is to Jesus is to Judas. John baptized Jesus who was the new prophet and the new king. Jesus gave Judas permission to betray him.

The Book Of Acts
In the Book of Acts we see the same pattern again, though not quite as clear. In this case the three characters are Stephen, Paul and Caesar Nero.

Stephen's ministry has some parallels with John the Baptist's. He had a great impact in his time and ended up being martyred.

And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. Acts 6:8-9
And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul.
And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. Acts 7: 58-59

His ministry was followed by that of Saul as he became Paul. So Paul was raised up and had a ministry that was greater that Stephens, just as Elisha's was greater than Elijah's and Jesus' was greater than John's. Paul was the new prophet, and he proclaimed Jesus and the new king in his ministry to the gentiles. Since Jehu is a figure of Jesus in the second coming, each instance of this pattern has Jesus as King.
As the Lord spoke of him in Acts 9:

… for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake. Acts 9:15-16
Near the end of Paul's ministry we see how Paul ends up being sent to Caesar.
While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.
Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest.
For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar.
Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go. Acts 25:8, 10-12
Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar. Acts 26:32

So what happened here is that when Paul said : I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, it was the same as when Jesus said to Judas That thou doest, do quickly . Paul was giving Caesar permission to carry out judgment against him, just as Jesus gave Judas permission.
"Caesar' has the meaning of "severed". The Caesars referred to in the New Testament are.
1. Augustus Luke 2:1
2. Tiberius Luke 3:1 20:22
3. Claudius Acts 11:28
4. Nero Acts 25:8 Philippians 4:22

Nero was the Caesar that Paul went before and who had him martyred. The name Nero, interestingly enough, is said to have a numeric of 666.

End Time Application..
I once heard an interesting discussion about ministries raising up other ministries. It was said that since the reformation, all the great leaders who came along were not able to raise up successors who went on to become greater than them. Luther, Calvin, Knox, Wesley, etc all represent peaks in the progress of the church. These peaks were followed by declines. Likewise the great revivals are all peaks in the growth of the church. Each revival was followed by a decline.

But the Word of God says

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: Mal 4:5
And we take that to mean that the end time church will be gifted with a ministry that will also carry out the three tasks of Elijah. That today's church leaders will be privileged to raise up a new generation who will far surpass them in accomplishments. They will be ministries who will do the greater works.
Likewise, the revival we have today, great as it is, will be far outshone by the final end time revival and harvest that the Lord is going to give.

In this case the three tasks of Elijah are to raise up a greater ministry, Proclaim a new King, King Jesus, and to lay their lives down in service to Jesus.

The three characters are today's church, the end time church [man-child] and the beast or anti-christ, whose number is 666, and who is given power to overcome the saints. {See Satan's Final Challenge by Bill Somers}

We can see that the pattern in the ministry of Elisha is a pattern for the end time church. The pattern set by Jesus is a pattern for the end time church. The pattern followed by Paul is a pattern for the end time church, [It shows Paul to be a type of the end time church, his conversion a type of revival.]

And so this pattern as it will work out gives us three stages. First is where we are now, preparing for and anticipating a great revival and harvest.

Second will be the End Time Apostolic Church that will receive the final outpouring of the Spirit and will do the Greater Works.

Third will be a church that is willing to present their bodies a living sacrifice, laying down their lives just as Jesus and Paul did. And being able to say with Paul:

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8.