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Elijah and the ravens

July 30, 2011

In the three years and six months of drought during the time of Elijah, God appointed ravens to bring food to him. [1 Kings 17:1-7] In the New Testament, the famine of three years and six months in the time of Elijah is connected to the age of the church, and the role of the holy Spirit. The age of the church is represented by the same symbolic period, of three years and six months, which is half of seven years, or seven times. Together with the ministry of Jesus and John the Baptist, the whole time assigned to the church is “seven times.” Note that a “time” can be expressed in various units.

Malachi said that God would send Elijah the prophet before the day of the Lord comes, and that he would “turn the hearts of the children to the fathers, and the hearts of the fathers to the children.” [Malachi 4:5-6] Jesus said that John the Baptist was a fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy. The holy Spirit sent to the church at Pentecost also fulfills Malachi’s prophecy.

Jesus pointed out that Elijah was sent to dwell with a widow of Sarepta, a Gentile. [Luke 4:24-26] Similarly, the Spirit has dwelt among Christians in Gentile nations. The three and a half years or 1,260 days of Revelation 11:3 and 12:6 connects the entire age of the church to the three years and six months of drought in the land in the days of Elijah.

The drought, when heaven was shut and there was no rain, alludes to the spiritual rain of God’s word. Isaiah compared God’s word to rain. [Isaiah 55:10-11]

The “rain” of the word of God seems to have ceased, since the time of the apostles. This is also seen in the prophecy about the two witnesses in Revelation 11. They have the power to “shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy.” [Revelation 11:6] The duration of their ministry is 1,260 days, corresponding to the famine in the time of Elijah. No new scripture has been written since the Apocalypse; the canon is completed. Spiritual gifts seem to have ceased. Even to understand the prophecies that have been previously written, has eluded the most imminent of scholars. The church has endured a kind of spiritual drought, since apostolic times. This condition was foretold by the prophet Amos. [Amos 8:11]

In the time of Elijah, the ravens brought food to him. The dove, and the raven, were the two birds that Noah released from the ark. The dove returned to him.

The spirit that came upon Jesus at his baptism came as a dove. Now, if the dove represents the spirit of God, what else could the ravens represent, but other spirits? The story of the dove and the raven, which Noah released after the flood, may be the background for the interpretation of the biblical significance of wings, which are mentioned in several prophecies. The “wing of abominations” mentioned in Daniel 9:27 probably represents flawed interpretations of prophecy.

In the history of the church, the Spirit of God has been present, but hidden, as Elijah was hidden from Ahab. As the ravens brought food to Elijah, the Spirit in the church has been nourished, by flawed interpretations. An illustration of this is the great variety of opinions expressed throughout the church’s history about the 1,260 days of prophecy, and the 70th week of Daniel 9. In my post, Genealogy of the gap, the opinions of more than a hundred expositors who proposed specific dates for the fulfillment of the 1,260 days are summarized. These flawed interpretations which Christians of the past have relied upon correspond to Elijah’s nourishment, when he hid in the Kerith Ravine, (or ‘by the brook Cherith’) that was brought to him in the morning and in the evening by the ravens.