In Can We Know the Identity of the Two Witnesses? we saw that Elijah was an Old Testament picture of John the Baptist. In fact, John the Baptist fulfilled the Malachi prophecies concerning Elijah. Not only did Elijah picture John, but Elisha is an Old Testament depiction of Yeshua (Jesus) – of both His First Coming and Second Coming. This two-part study is focused on examining these amazing parallels.
Elisha’s name means “God is salvation,” and the meaning of Yeshua’s name is “Yahweh saves” or “the LORD saves” – both names have essentially the same meanings.
For this study, I recommend that the reader take the time to read the passages listed in their entirety, as we are only able to cite the pertinent portions of Scripture with a brief summary for context. This will take longer, but the end result should be a much richer appreciation for the parallels and will also give the reader a chance to see if he or she can spot some other associations in their own study.
I will also be offering links to previous articles that may be of interest to the reader for further information on the topics covered within this study.
The first parallel was miracles of creation.
Elisha: The Increase of the Widow’s Oil – 2 Kings 4:1-7
A woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets had recently become a widow and was in dire straits financially – even to the point of indenturehood – and pleaded for Elisha’s help.
“Then he [Elisha] said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few. And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full. So she went from him, and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out. And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest” (2 Kings 4:3-7).
Yeshua: Changing Water into Wine – John 2:1-10
Jesus did a similar miracle when He turned the water into wine at the wedding in Cana.
“And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it” (John 2:6-7).
Vessels and waterpots became earthly utensils for miracles of creation. One was for livelihood, and the other was for a celebration, and both were a blessing from God for a human need.
(For a deeper study on the significance of the wedding of Cana, please see The Prophetic Third Day).
Extended Application: God’s care for His people – especially for the needy – is evident throughout the Scriptures, and we, as His children, should be showing the same compassion and love for others.
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).
The second parallel was both miracles of resurrections or resuscitations.
Elisha: The Shunammite’s Son is Raised – 2 Kings 4:8-37
A beautiful story, to be sure. But the promised son had died, and resuscitation was necessary for the child of promise.
“And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed. He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the Lord. And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. And he called Gehazi, and said, Call this Shunammite. So he called her. And when she was come in unto him, he said, Take up thy son” (2 Kings 4:32-36).
We see a parallel in Jesus raising the daughter of a ruler in the synagogue.
Yeshua: Jairus’ Daughter is Raised – Luke 8:49-56
“And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat” (Luke 8:54-55).
Jesus, the Creator and giver of life, is the way, the truth, and the life.
Extended Applications: Christ’s resurrection, the resurrection of the church, the resurrection of the Old Testament saints, and the resurrection of Tribulation saints are all pictured within the resurrections – or resuscitations – that are recorded for us in both the Old and New Testaments.
Just as Elisha resuscitated the widow’s son, so, too, was the Son of God raised from the dead; and because He has conquered death, we shall be resurrected as well!
(For a study on the resurrections and how they may play out, please see Resurrections and The Marriage Supper of The Lamb).
The third parallel was death in a pot/bowl.
Elisha: Death in the Pot – 2 Kings 4:38-41
The sons of the Prophets were making stew in a pot, and one of the prophets unintentionally put poisonous gourds into the pottage.
“So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O thou man of God, there is death in the pot. And they could not eat thereof. But he said, Then bring meal. And he cast it into the pot; and he said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat. And there was no harm in the pot” (2 Kings 4:40-41).
In a parallel, we see another food container that ultimately led to death.
Yeshua: ‘Death’ in the Bowl – John 13:21-30
The allusion to Elisha’s death in a pot should remind us of our Lord’s experience of identifying His traitor by dipping sop into a bowl.
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. And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly” (John 13:26-27).
One pot and one bowl – both ultimately produced different forms of salvation from death.
Just as Elisha’s death in the pot became life-giving sustenance for the sons of the prophets, so, too, did Christ’s symbolic death in the dipping in the bowl of sop lead to our life eternal through His death. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ was the means to set men free from sin, death, and judgment.
(For a study on the believer’s relationship to “dying to self” in this life, please see Losing One’s Life and Dying to Self).
Extended Application: Elisha cast meal, which is made of flour from wheat, into the pot of stew to save the prophets from the poison present in the pottage (2 Kings 4:41). Jesus, in alluding to His death for the salvation of souls, said:
“And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:23-24).
In addition, at the Last Supper, Jesus:
“… took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19).
Elisha’s wheat saved the prophets, while Christ’s sacrifice, “which [was] given for [us]” as “a corn of wheat” that falls to “the ground and die,” will “bringeth forth much fruit.” And to this, we should all say, “Thank you, Lord!”
The fourth parallel is, again, miracles of creation.
Elisha: The Multiplication of the Loaves – 2 Kings 4:42-44
“And there came a man from Baalshalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk thereof. And he said, Give unto the people, that they may eat. And his servitor said, What, should I set this before an hundred men? He said again, Give the people, that they may eat: for thus saith the Lord, They shall eat, and shall leave thereof. So he set it before them, and they did eat, and left thereof, according to the word of the Lord” (2 Kings 4:42-44).
Truly a picture of our Lord feeding the multitudes!
Yeshua: The Feeding of the 5,000 – John 6:1-14
“When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?” (John 6:5-9).
Note that Elisha had 20 loaves of barley for 100 men, and Jesus had only five barley loaves and two small fish that fed 5,000 men. In all of the parallels, Jesus always did more with less for much greater miracles and provision, as He is the Creator incarnate!
“And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten” (John 6:10-13).
Just so, with Jesus, there remained more after the feeding than He began with. Now that’s a mighty Creator!
Extended Application: Christ said afterward, concerning Himself:
“… I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35b).
“I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51).
Praise the Lord that He willingly gave of His flesh and His blood on the cross for our sins! Thank you, Lord Jesus!!
The fifth parallel is the healing of foreign lepers.
Elisha: The Healing of Naaman the Syrian – 2 Kings 5:1-27
God cares for all people of every nation.
“And Elisha sent a messenger unto him [Naaman], saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean” (2 Kings 5:10).
“Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel” (2 Kings 5:14-15a).
Of course, our Lord, being that same caring and loving God of Elisha, did alike when He came to earth as a man at His First Coming.
Yeshua: The Healing of the Samaritan – Luke 17:11-19
“And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole” (Luke 17:12-19).
Our Lord often commended the Samaritans and Gentiles for their faith. Even though He was sent to the lost sheep of Israel, He made a concerted effort to reach out to the Gentiles because His love is for all people created in His image.
Extended Application: Healing from sin.
Leprosy has always been analogous to sin, and the Lord’s mission was to free us from that sin and reconcile us back to the Father through His sacrifice on the cross.
(For a study on the believer’s responsibility regarding forgiveness of trespasses and sins, please see The Challenge of Forgiveness).
The sixth parallel was acts of creative providence.
Elisha: The Floating Ax Head – 2 Kings 6:1-7
The sons of the prophets went to build a new place to dwell in, and one of the prophets lost a borrowed ax head in the waters.
“And the man of God [Elisha] said, Where fell it? And he shewed him the place. And he cut down a stick, and cast it in thither; and the iron did swim. Therefore said he, Take it up to thee. And he put out his hand, and took it” (2 Kings 6:6-7).
A miracle, to be sure. But note the process of Elisha cutting down a stick and casting it into the waters. The same procedure was carried out by Moses at the waters of Marah (Exodus 15:22-26).
Yeshua: The Coin in the Fish’s Mouth – Matthew 17:24-27
We see a similar act of creative providence when Jesus was challenged about paying the tribute money.
“And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee” (Matthew 17:24-27).
Peter cast in the water his hook and pulled up out of the water the first fish he caught, which had the tribute money in its mouth!
We can also see an allusion to the cross when we see the wood being thrown into the water for redemption – the wood of the cross and tree where our Lord paid the price for our sins.
Extended Application: The rapture of the church. Just as Elisha cast in the stick – or wood of the cross – into the water and the ax head floated to the top, we can see the imagery of those alive on earth at the rapture of the church being lifted up from off of the earth into the air.
“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18).
(For a study on the rapture of the church in the Olivet Discourse and other passages, please see Jesus Was the First to Teach the Rapture!).
The seventh parallel is God’s omnipresence.
Elisha: God Tells His Prophet What the Enemy Does in Secret – 2 Kings 6:8-12
Just as “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24), our Lord sees everything by His omnipresence and acts accordingly through His omniscience. This was the experience of Israel’s enemies.
“Then the king of Syria warred against Israel, and took counsel with his servants, saying, In such and such a place shall be my camp. And the man of God sent unto the king of Israel, saying, Beware that thou pass not such a place; for thither the Syrians are come down. And the king of Israel sent to the place which the man of God told him and warned him of, and saved himself there, not once nor twice” (2 Kings 6:8-10).
The king of Syria thought there was treason in his ranks, never considering that the God of all creation could see his every move – let alone know his every thought – and provide His prophet with that information to confound Israel’s enemies.
“Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled for this thing; and he called his servants, and said unto them, Will ye not shew me which of us is for the king of Israel? And one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber” (2 Kings 6:11-12).
The parallel I see here is one of the invisible God who desires that His people rely on the spirit that God has given within them to serve and commune with His Holy Spirit. As a Spirit, God is a God of hidden secrets.
“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter” (Proverbs 25:2).
“Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom” (Psalm 51:6).
Yeshua: God Sees and Knows His Children in Secret – Matthew 6:1-8
The Lord wants our charity, whenever possible, to be done in secret and to be hidden.
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven… But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:1, 3-4).
The Lord also wants our personal prayer life to be in secret and hidden.
“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:6).
Extended Application: God sees everything, as He is omnipresent. And He knows everything, as His omniscience knows no bounds.
“For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops” (Luke 12:2-3).
“Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:23-24).
We have just looked at seven parallels in the ministries of Elisha and Yeshua. In Part 2, we will be looking at six others that I pray the reader will find fascinating. I encourage the reader to be on the lookout for more parallels, not only between Elisha and Messiah Jesus, but between other Biblical characters, events, and narratives with their many associations and relationships to the Son of God – for there are many!!
Parallels, pictures, snapshots, patterns, symbolisms, and many other correlations point to our God and Savior, Jesus Christ, within the Scriptures. Even Christ Himself said so:
“Search the scriptures… they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39).
Love, grace, mercy, and shalom in Messiah Yeshua, and Maranatha!
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