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Bible Commentary Adam Clarke

Elijah's Retirement on Earth
(Not in Heaven)
PDF Version

We all have been taught that Elijah was taken up into the heavenlies, never to return to earth; never to die, as do all other men (except those who will be alive at Christ's Parousia). The scriptures do not teach this, even though he was taken up into the heavens. Elijah was probably transported away from the Israelites into retirement. Approximately seven to thirteen years after his departure, from Elisha, he comes out of retirement, after Jehoshaphat's death, to write a letter to Jehoshaphat's son, Jehoram. With this being the case, Elijah's removal from the public sector, is most likely going to be similar to Phillip's removal from the man of Ethiopia, as recorded in Acts 8:39-40.

The section of scripture that gives us this information is 2 Chronicles 21:12, which states, "Then came there unto him [Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat], a writing, from Elijah the prophet, saying,—Thus, saith Yahweh, Elohim of David thy father, Because thou hast not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat thy father, nor in the ways of Asa, king of Judah..." This verse is the only usage of Elijah's name in Chronicles, while Elijah's name was used sixty-six times in Kings. This section of scripture discloses to us that Elijah was alive and well on planet earth. Now we do the counting to see when he wrote this letter.

1.) Elijah departed from Elisha (2 Kgs. 2:13).
2.) Jehoram, son of Ahab, began to reign in Israel after this incident (2 Kgs. 3:1). This occurred in the eighteenth year of king Jehoshaphat.
3.) Jehoshaphat reigned twenty-five years (2 Chron. 20:31).
4.) Jehoshaphat reigned at least seven years after Elijah's departure (25 - 18 = 7). Jehoshaphat died (2 Chron. 21:1).
5.) Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat, begins his eight year reign after his father's death (2 Chron. 21:5).
6.) Elijah writes to Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, after Jehoshaphat's death, and says,

"...Thus, saith Yahweh, Elohim of David thy father, Because thou hast not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat thy father, nor in the ways of Asa, king of Judah; but hast walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and hast caused Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to be unchaste, after the unchastities of the house of Ahab,—moreover also, thine own brethren of the house of thy father who were better than thou, hast thou slain, lo! Yahweh, is about to plague, with a great plague, thy people, and thy children and thy wives, and all thy possessions; also, thyself, with sore diseases, with disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels shall fall out, by reason of the disease, in a year added to a year" (2 Chron. 21:12-15).

7.) Elijah prophesied that Jehoram's bowels would fall out, which began to occur in the sixth year of his reign. He died from this condition after the second year, of this condition, as prophesied by Elijah (2 Chron. 21:18-20).
8.) Jehoram began his reign, at least 7 years after Elijah's departure and he reigned 6 years before Elijah's prophesy began to come to pass (7 + 6 = 13 years).

The above scriptures gives us the evidence that Elijah wrote a letter, seven to thirteen years, after his departure. Why is this hard to believe? Phillip experienced a similar event. Acts 8:39 - 40, states, "But, when they came up out of the water, the ruah of Yahweh caught away [harpazo] Philip, and the eunuch saw him no more; for he was going on his way rejoicing. Now Philip was found at Azotus; and, passing through, he was telling the glad tidings unto all the cities, until he came unto Caesarea." When Elijah departed, the sons of the prophets stated, "...Lo! we pray thee, there are with thy servants fifty men, sons of valour—let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy lord, lest the ruah of  Yahweh have borne him away, and cast him on one of the mountains, or into one of the valleys...So they sent fifty men, and made search three days, but found him not" (2 Kgs. 2:16-17). They could not find him because Yahweh must have hid him. Ahab had all Israel searching for Elijah, for 3 1/2 years, but neither could they find him because Yahweh hid him. What would people believe, about Phillip, if Acts just read, "But, when they came up out of the water, the ruah of Yahweh caught away [harpazo] Philip, and the eunuch saw him no more?" They would say, He is in Heaven. We have been taught that Enoch is in Heaven but Hebrews 11:13, after mentioning Enoch, states, "In faith, all these died..." Enoch died as did Moses (Deu. 34:7). Well, what about the transformation of Yahoshua upon the mountain, the disciples seeing Elijah and Moses?  What they saw was a vision; "And, as they were coming down out of the mountain, Yahoshua commanded them, saying—Unto no one, may ye tell the vision, until the Son of Man, from among the dead shall arise" (Mt. 17:9). The disciples saw a vision. Other disciples that saw visions were Ananias, Peter, Paul etc...

Elijah had an extremely difficult life, so difficult that he desired to die (1 Kgs. 19:4). Yahweh probably rewarded him for his labors, placing him in a location where he could not be found. Yahweh gave him three more assignments before he was replaced by Elisha (1 Kgs. 19:4, 15-16). These three tasks being accomplished, he could then be taken into a storm in the heavens, retiring from being a prophet to Israel. He could have been placed into a foreign land, which occurred when he was directed to go to the city of Zarephath, a city in Zion, during the 3 1/2 year drought in Israel (1 Kgs. 17:9).  Elisha, Elijah's replacement, became the prophet of Yahweh to Israel. Seven to thirteen years later, Elijah, metaphorically speaking, came knocking on king Jehoram's door, to Jehoram's bewilderment, notifying him that Yahweh was so displeased with his actions that he was going to die a terrible death.

Elijah died, as all men do (except for those who will be present at Yahoshua's Parousia) (1 Cor. 15 & 1 Thes. 4). Men desire to be in Heaven, the minute they die, but Yahweh does not teach this doctrine. These men are described in 2 Timothy 4:3 - 4, which states, "...the healthful teaching, they will not endure, but, according to their own covetings, will, unto themselves, heap up teachers, because they have an itching ear, And, from the truth, indeed, their ear, will they turn away, while, unto stories, they will turn themselves aside" (2 Ti. 4:3-4). (Yahweh gave us a whole chapter dealing with this subject, which is 1 Corinthians 15.)  Enoch, Elijah and Moses are asleep, awaiting their egeiro (awakening), which will occur at the Resurrection of the Just (Lk. 14:14).

(For footnotes, read the PDF version.)


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