“My father; my father! The Chariot of Israel; and the horsemen thereof.” – II Kings 2:12.
This declaration was made by Elisha as he beheld Elijah taken “up by a whirlwind into heaven.” We have in it, and its connections, a remarkable exposition of the manner in which the Lord raises up men gifted (Ephesians 4:8), to meet the Issues that arise each in the particular day of his labor. We often hear the expression made regarding men prominent in this great work, “who will fill his place?” We understand that each of these men, fills his own place.
In the carnal world men are trained for certain work; a lawyer studies law; a doctor medicine, &c., but men raised up of this Divine order need no earthly training. “The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:1). This preparation may gradually go on from and in early life: but the especial equipment comes with the especial call.
Joshua the son of Nun, who was to succeed Moses is mentioned very early in connection with the ministry of Moses: and we can trace him through the life work of Moses. We do not question but what this Divine preparation is here and there manifested as in the case of David (I Samuel 17:34-36) and others. They come into the world as in the case of Jeremiah the life of heaven in them; ordained “a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5), and so we find in the case of Samuel, (I Samuel 1:20-28): also of Moses (Exodus 2: 1-9): and so in each and every case, men, not women, are called, qualified, and equipped for prophetic, ministerial, or similar work.
“They are taught in the school of sorrow,
And Christ is the Teacher there.”
While the world around us are teaching their dupes in Sunday Schools, and other such unauthorized auxiliaries, their Y.M.C.A., and similar anti-christian organizations, the God of heaven calls His people and they follow Him. This calling and preparation is hidden from the world; and in a measure, often from the saints. We suppose that the great body of the people knew not who should succeed Elijah. The carnal Israelites evidently supposed that Elijah would have no successor, just as the world around us supposes when a Gospel minister dies, that ends all Gospel work. This because of their ignorance of the power, grace, and glory of the true Gospel system.
They are “made in secret,” (Psalms 139:5), and developed as is the substance of the body of which Christ is Head. The all-seeing eye of Israel’s God watches over the development of the “generation of Jesus Christ,” (Matthew 1:1). The Psalmist testifies “Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations” (Psalms 90:1); and these are “the generations of Adam” in which the “generation of Jesus Christ,” is developed. They are “made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth” (Psalms 139:16).
“My father; my father the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof.” Mark you this relationship! How could he be their father unless they were begotten and born of Him? And mark you, equally so, that He the Father of these children, is called, “The Mighty God: The Everlasting Father,” (Isaiah 9:6): and thus may they be called “everlasting children” as existing in an everlasting seed substance – Christ; the eternal, everlasting Son of God. As “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God * * * and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).
Each of these children who come down as Christ did (John 3:13) from “God out of heaven,” (Revelation 21:2,) partakes “of flesh and blood” as Christ did; and Christ as they did (Hebrews 2:14). Mark you, also these children are not made up out of flesh and blood, on the principle that the Adamic sinner is born of God; but the heavenly, spiritual child, existing not in full development in heaven, as we and the able men before us are falsely and ridiculously accused of holding; but existing in seed substance (Psalms 139:15,16), in Christ. Christ maintains a twofold relation to His people: First, He is the “incorruptible seed” substance (Galatians 3:16); second, He is “the first born among many brethren” (Romans 8:29).
“My Father, my Father.” There are three absolute essentials in the development of any character of life: First, the seed; Second, the “generation;” and lastly, the birth that develops that generation. Now, as every seed, must be after “his kind,” (Genesis 1:25); it follows as an absolute fact that the birth from Adam can produce nothing but “his kind” – (Adam sinners); and that an Adam sinner cannot be born of the Spirit, for this is the birth of a life in which Adam had no previous existence. The bungling translation “again” in John 3:3, has caused much confusion among many who really desire to know the Truth. The fact is the term “again” is not in the original Greek. The term “again” is a translation from the Greek term “anothen,” which properly translated means “from above.” The marginal reading so gives it that way. The revised translation very properly does not use the term “again,” in the body of the text. It uses “anew”, which is also a bungle; thus “except a man be born anew,” but in the margin it has the term “above”. The honest received text of the King James Translation also has a marginal reference “above.” Those who are born of God came down “from above.” Christ, the Word, “lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” Only the elect come into the world; all others have always been in the loins of Adam in this world.
Some years ago at the University of Virginia, with one of the best Greek scholars: and an original Greek version of the Bible before us, we examined this text and its many connections; and are confident that the original text reads: “Except a man be born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Assuredly then must he have the above life which is Christ: i.e., existing in that life not en-masse, but in a personal unit, just as Adam’s family existed in Adam, in a personal unit. And this child of God, the Father, (John 1:13) comes “down from God out of heaven” (Revelation 21:2; Isaiah 54:5; Matthew 1:1-6); takes up his abode as did Jesus in a mortal body born of Adam (Hebrews 10:5).
Here we have not two principles in one man; but two men distinctly separate, each from a distinctly separate Headship; seedship, one spiritual from Christ “the new man, which after God is created in righteousness, and true holiness” and the other, natural, from Adam – the “old man corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.” (Ephesians 4:22,23,25.) The italicized term “man” in these quotations is from the Greek term “anthropas” which means “a certain man.” And these two antagonistic men are contrary “the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” “I delight in the law of God,” says Paul, “after the inward man” (Romans 7:22). “What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies,” says Solomon. (Canticles 6:13).
My Father; my Father. We are told that “because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6). In the Contest of 1886-89, our opponents claimed that we, the natural seed, by the Spirit, cry Abba, Father; but the testimony here is that the Holy Spirit itself, is the one that cries “Abba, Father,” and that the adopted heir is sealed by that Spirit, (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30). And oh how precious when the Holy Spirit controls our heart; and winged by faith we soar upward realizing that we are sheltering under the heavenly wings; and that like “A father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust” (Psalm 103:13). And so thus it was with Elisha, as like a flash, for a moment the heavens were opened; and he saw visions of God.
“My Father; my Father; the Chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.” This Chariot evidently is the Church whether hidden under legal types, or in open development. We are told that “King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon. He made the pillars thereof of silver, the bottom thereof of gold; the covering of it of purple, the midst thereof being paved with love for the daughters of Jerusalem” (Canticles 3:9,10). Beautiful figure this ! and type of the Gospel Church as she shines forth “clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars” (Revelation 12:1). This answers Solomon’s description of the same Gospel Church: “Fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners” (Canticles 6:10). But sometimes He makes “the clouds His chariot” (Psalm 104:3). Now if the clouds should be dark; and His face veiled from view, as Job testifies of this, saying, “Oh that I knew where I might find Him that I might come even to His seat! I would argue my cause before Him” (Job 23:3,4). “Clouds and darkness” frequently “are round about Him” (Psalm 97:2). “Thou makest darkness and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth” (Psalm 104:20). But whether as in days of old the leadings of our God are by “The Pillar of the Cloud” by day or “The Pillar of fire” by night, Nehemiah 9:19, the faith of these living witnesses grasps the Divine leadings, and they follow in that strait and narrow path that leadeth unto life. (Matthew 7:13,14).
“My Father, my Father, the Chariot of Israel; and the horsemen thereof.” “The Chariot of Israel.” The Gospel Church, as we have stated whether hidden under the legal type, or in open development, the Church “which is in God the Father; and in the Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thessalonians 1:1) is situated as the dwelling place of God. “And He said unto me, Son of man, the place of My throne, and the place of the soles of My feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel forever” (Ezekiel 13:7). This is The Church wherein He dwells; in in which He rides! Wonderful thought! Stupendous testimony!
And He shall surely triumph over all opposition: and His triumph shall be signal, and complete. “And there came unto me one of the seven angels, which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee, the bride, the Lamb’s wife. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God: and her light was like a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal” (Revelation 21:9-11).
“My Father, my Father: the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.” The Rider in this Chariot; the Driver who controlled the horsemen; directing their every movement, was not visible. The Power of Almighty God is not known or seen; not at all by human sight or knowledge; and often lost sight of by the saints. Truly is it a hidden power. Habakkuk in a reference to the power and glory of God says, “He had horns coming out of His hand; and there was the hiding of His power;” (Habakkuk 3:4); held securely in His hand: forever hidden from the wise and prudent of earth. When Moses besought the Lord: “I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory,” the reply was: “Thou canst not see My face, for there shall no man see me and live. And the Lord said, Behold there is a place by Me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock. And it shall come to pass, while My glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a cleft of the rock, and will cover thee with My hand while I pass by: And I will take away My hand, and thou shalt see My back parts; but My face shall not be seen” Exodus 33:19-23).
“My Father; my Father: the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.” It will be noticed that in this wonder vision of Elisha; this flash of light that opened the heavens to his view (Ezekiel 1:1) the hand of Him who sat in the Chariot, controlling the movements of the horsemen was not seen. In the preceding verse of our text, we have the testimony: “And it came to pass as they (Elijah and Elisha) 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.” Mark you, this is all that Elisha saw “The Chariot of fire and hoses of fire.” But our text gives the interpretation of the sight.
“My Father; my Father; the Chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof.” The term horsemen here used comes from the Hebrew term Parash, translated universally in the singular, “Horseman” which we regard as a proper translation horseman, defined in our dictionaries as “one who uses and manages the horse.” The Latin Vulgate translation, renders this “Driver,” and rendering this clause of our text: “The Driver thereof.”
Assuredly did Elisha mean to express in his flashlight of this vision that the Unseen Hand guiding The Chariot of Fire, and its horses of fire, was the Hand of Almighty God. We have in the prophesy of Zachariah 6:1-3, “There came four Chariots out from between two mountains: and the mountains were mountains of brass. In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses; and in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grizzled and bay horses.” As in the vision of Elisha, the controlling power; the Driver of these chariots were not seen. But it was shown to the prophet, that He who sent these chariots forth, controlling the move of these horses was, “The Lord of all the earth” (Zechariah 6:5). The mountains of Brass evidently refer to the absolute, irrevocable Predestination of the God of heaven, directing, controlling, and assuring the events calling for the coming forth of these chariots.
Let us now sum up the substance of this testimony. Mark you what we have previously stated, all that Elisha saw was “The chariot of fire; and the horses of fire.” Our text simply gives the interpretation, but we believe, the inspired interpretation of what he saw. The sight gave evidence; the revelations brought him near to the Throne; and that Throne was not veiled in terror but in love;
“His Throne no frowning aspect wears,
His hand no vengeful thunder bears”
like the Pillar of the cloud and the Pillar of fire that guided Israel in their wilderness journey. Elisha’s spirit was filled with the love of God as he realized the relationship – “My Father: my Father.”
He saw by faith the long, shadowy travel under legal hope of the Gospel Church and its final glorious triumph, as the Divine hand of Him who sat in its chariot, directed its travel whither the horses attached to the chariot. (Zechariah 6: 5-8) go into the north country, or toward the south country, or walk “to and fro through the earth.” “The two mountains of brass,” evidently refer to the two dispensations, Legal and Gospel, for the prophecy of Zechariah reaches out of the first and into the second; and here is where the plural of Parash, horsemen, come in. For a clear evidence was here presented to Elisha, that this directing, controlling Hand guiding this Chariot would supply men, like as in his and Elijah’s particular case: one to succeed another; each in his place to meet the issues as they arose; amply qualified each for his work; as Samuel succeeded Eli, and so on down through the ages of time; as apostles, succeeded prophets; and one group of His ministers succeeds another – The Chariot of heaven moved on in its appointed course; and until the redeemed Gospel Church should shine forth in a blaze of light; “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” (I Corinthians 15:52-54).
Elder William Smoot