What is the point of this Blog?
I believe it is now time, for those of us who were called by the Lord in the great movings of the Spirit in 1967 – 1974, and those “born again” since that time, to move across our figurative Jordan Rivers and go into the battle to take our Promised Land – promised by the Lord to us many years before – for the Kingdom of God.
How will I make my point?
I mean to illustrate this, not by the normal story of Joshua, but by a much later individual, Elijah, who came from the “wrong side of the Jordan” and had to cross it himself to begin his ministry. My Blog is not named, as it is, after the famous challenge of Elijah to the prophets of Baal and Asherah on Mt. Carmel; instead, on Moses’ own words in Deuteronomy 4:35 and 39 where he states twice “To you it was shown that you might know that the Lord He is God; there is no other besides Him”; and “Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the Lord, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other”; and Deuteronomy 7:9 “Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps his covenant and his lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments…”
Who was Elijah?
The Bible says that “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours…” James 5:17. Elijah had become a man close to God’s Spirit by the time he took his place in history, but he was a man, after all, and subject to the same proclivities as we are: he may have had a lazy streak, maybe suffered from pride, from depression, from anger and, I believe, he may have had a problem with lust. Nevertheless, he had a consuming desire to know the Lord, in a day when it was spiritually, and, for prophets, physically dangerous to do so; and he had to make a fateful decision of whether he was going to obey God or not, by crossing the Jordan to confront Ahab, the wicked King of the Northern Kingdom, Israel.
We know that Elijah, like some of us, came from the “wrong side of the tracks”, in this case the Jordan. The Bible says only of Elijah that he was “…the Tishbite, who was of the settlers in Gilead…” 1 Kings 17:1. Tishbite is not otherwise found in the Bible and the footnotes in the NASB say an alternate reading is that he was from “Tishbe in Gilead”. In any event, he was living in Gilead before his known ministry began.
Where was Gilead?
When Israel was camped on the east side of the Jordan, in Moses’ last years of ministry before Joshua took over, Israel had had to fight its way up to get to the proper spot to invade Canaan. Before they got there, when they were still camped in Midian, God told them it was time to move north to get to the spot. Deuteronomy 2:3. First, they asked to pass through, on a main highway, Edom, which was due south of modern day Jordan, in modern day Saudi Arabia, southeast of the Dead Sea. Numbers 20:14-21. But the King of Edom would not let Israel pass through, so Israel had to travel east to go around Edom up the east side of Edom. Deuteronomy 2:4-8. Next, Israel came to the border of Moab and God told Moses he wouldn’t give any of Moab to Israel as he had given it to the sons of Lot. Deuteronomy 2:9. After Israel had gone around Moab, they had to also go around Ammon, which was north of Moab. God had also told Moses that none of the land of Ammon was Israel’s either, as Ammon was also a descendant of Lot’s; so they had to go around the land of Ammon. Deuteronomy 2:19. So by now, Israel was camped about due east of the northern edge of the Dead Sea and still had to go west to get to the Jordan.
The land north of Ammon belonged to two Kings whose people were not related to Israel (Lot was). The Amorites, under Sihon, lived in Gilead, and the King of Bashan was Og. Moses asked Sihon to, again, let Israel pass through, on a main highway, from east of the Amorite land, to the west, where the Jordan River was, but Sihon would not let them pass through; and instead brought out an army to fight Israel. So the Lord let Israel fight, and defeat, the Amorites, because they were not “related” to Israel (and for other reasons which we will not discuss today). Numbers 21:21-32 and Deuteronomy 2:24-37. The land of the Amorites then became the land Israel called Gilead.
Then, although Moses could have had Israel go through the Amorite land it had conquered, to the west, to the Jordan, he did not. Instead, Israel continued up the east side of the Jordan leaving the Amorite land and moving north into Bashan. Og, King of Bashan brought his army out and Israel defeated them and took all the land of Bashan. Numbers 21:33-35 and Deuteronomy 3:1-11. This war was fought to rid the area around Canaan of the descendants of “actual” Giants (which we will discuss at another time). The conquest of these two Kings reliably took place about 1452 B.C.
Gad and Reuben decide to settle
As the 12 tribes (including Manasseh and Ephraim, but not including the Levites, who received no land in Canaan) were preparing themselves to cross the Jordan River to begin the conquest of Canaan, the Tribes of Gad and Reuben and the “half” tribe of Manasseh came to Moses and said they had much cattle and Gilead was good land for cattle raising, so they wanted their inheritance to fall on the east side of the Jordan, and not the west with the other 9 and 1/2 Tribes. Moses got very angry and accused them of treachery. However, it was settled, finally, that Gad and Reuben would take half of Gilead, Deuteronomy 3:12; and the half-Tribe of Manasseh would take all of Bashan and the other half of Gilead, Deuteronomy 3:13; as long as their men crossed over to fight the Canaanites and until the other 9 1/2 Tribes came into their inheritances; then they could go back to live on the east side of the Jordan. Numbers chapter 32, Numbers 34:13-15 and Deuteronomy 3:14-20. Moses attributed his giving of Gilead and Bashan to Gad, Reuben and half of Manasseh as the action of the Lord, in Deuteronomy 3:18 “…The Lord your God has given you this land to possess it…”
What was Elijah’s heritage?
We can conclude that Elijah, since he was from Gilead, was a descendant of Gad, Reuben, or Manasseh. We can learn something of the character of these three ancestors by the meaning of their names assigned by God, and by three sets of prophecies that were spoken over all three of them, or their descendants. Reuben was Jacob’s first born, through Jacob’s second wife, Leah, and his name means only “See, a son”. Genesis 29:32. Gad was Leah’s maid (Jacob’s concubine’s) son, and his name means “Fortunate”. Genesis 30:11. Manasseh was Jacob’s grandson, and his son Joseph’s first son, born in Egypt to an Egyptian wife (daughter of a priest) and his name means “Forgetting”. Genesis 41:51.
After Jacob had come to Egypt to live, where Joseph was second in command over Egypt, when he was dying, he prophesied over all of his sons. Reuben was the firstborn and should have had the firstborn’s blessing, but Jacob withheld such blessing, as Reuben lacked self-control and had had sex with Jacob’s second concubine, Bilhah, who was the mother of two of Reuben’s own brothers. Genesis 49:3-4 and Genesis 35:22. It is likely this ostracization of Reuben by his own father caused his descendants to want to stay on the other side of the river from their brethren. Of Gad, Jacob merely said that “…raiders shall raid him, but he shall raid at their heels.” Genesis 49:19. This indicates truth, in that Gad was to choose to live on the unprotected side of the Jordan, open to all the raiders from the east, but that Gad would fight back and not take it passively.
Since Joseph was Jacob’s son, the prophecy over him was to Joseph and not directly to Joseph’s children Manasseh and Ephraim. The blessing to Joseph was tremendous blessing of every sort. Genesis 49:22-26. But, before this final blessing, Jacob had had a private audience with Joseph and his sons. At that time, Jacob blessed his grandsons individually and he put Ephraim over Manasseh even though Manasseh was the first born; and Jacob said “…his younger brother shall be greater than he”. So Manasseh, like Reuben, did not receive the blessing of a firstborn, for reasons known only to God. Genesis 48:5-20.
When Moses was dying, he similarly prophesied over the descendants of the 12 Tribes: Of Reuben, all he said was “May Reuben live and not die, nor his men be few.” Deuteronomy 33:6. Of Joseph, he once again poured out blessings upon him (he used the word “choice” or “best” 6 times), and at the very end said “…those are the ten thousands of Ephraim and those are the thousands of Manesseh. He again put the younger over Manesseh and he blessed Ephraim with 10-fold blessings than Manasseh’s. Deuteronomy 33:13-17. Of Gad he said “…he lies down as a lion, and tears the arm, also the crown of the head” and “…he came with the leaders of the people; he executed the justice of the Lord, and His ordinances with Israel.” Deuteronomy 33:20-21.
Did any of these Tribes rule as Judges?
Finally, in looking at Elijah’s heritage, as to what may have been in his bloodline to produce such a fearless man of justice, we can look to see whether any of the 13 Judges who ruled, after Joshua had died, before the age of the prophets began when Samuel first showed up. The Judges ruled about 317 years (very hard to quantify) from about 1413 B.C. until 1096 B.C. Under the third judge, Deborah, and Barak, the commander, Israel prevailed against its enemy led by Sisera, but, in Deborah’s victory song, found at Judges 5:1-31, she says of Reuben: “Among the divisions of Reuben there were great resolves of heart. Why did you sit among the sheepfolds to hear the piping for the flocks? Among the divisions of Reuben there were great searchings of heart”; and “Gilead remained across the Jordan.” So Gilead did not come to the battle, across the Jordan to the west, against Sisera, but she mocked Reuben for staying put. Judges 5:15-17.
Of the 13 Judges, only one was from Gilead, Jephthah. The Ammonites, who Israel had not been allowed to fight earlier, before they had crossed the Jordan to conquer it, had harassed Gilead for 18 years. Judges 10:8. Then, Ammon crossed the Jordan to the west and was harrassing Judah, Benjamin and Ephraim, so the entire country was up in arms. Judges 10:9. The man Gilead was actually the father of Jephthah, but his mother had been a prostitute, so the elders of Gilead had driven Jephthah out, as a bad example. But, as it was said of General Ulysses S. Grant, “this man fights”, so the elders were pursuaded by the rest of Israel to humble themselves before Jephthah and ask him to deliver the Tribes, both east and west of the Jordan, which Jephthah was able to do. Judges 11:5-7 and 32-33. Gilead’s father, Machir, was actually of the Tribe of Manasseh, and had been alloted “Gilead” (named afterward) “…because he was a man of war”. In other words, to live across the Jordan, with the other 9 1/2 Tribes separated by a river, you had to be ready to fight at all times.
So, which Tribe was Elijah descended from?
Elijah’s name means “My God is Jehovah” and some sources state that his name actually can be translated as “The Lord He is God”, so that when the fire fell on Mt. Carmel and the people cried out with that statement, the people were actually saying “Elijah, Elijah!”. 1 Kings 18:39. He crossed the Jordan about 910 B.C. Thus, in the 542 years since Israel was ready to cross the Jordan, until Elijah was ready to cross the Jordan to take his place in history, what we can conclude, is that none of the Kings of the unified Israel, or of the separated Kingdoms of Judah in the south and Israel in the north; nor any of the Judges who ruled before the Kings, except for Jephthah, whose mother likely was a pagan, had ever held leadership positions in Israel. So, on the surface, there was nothing from his bloodline that would have indicated spiritual, or otherwise, greatness in Elijah.
But, there were the prophecies given by Jacob, Moses and Deborah. None of them prophesied good things about Reuben; thus I conclude that Elijah was not a descendant of Reuben. For Manasseh, the three prophecies were not anything dramatic, but, again, we do have the leadership of Jephthah. But, I conclude that Elijah was not a descendant of the half Tribe of Manesseh who lived across the Jordan. With Gad, we have three prophecies that are consistent with Elijah’s nature. Jacob prophesied that raiders would strike at him, but he would strike them back; he was not going to be passive about evil. Deborah merely stated that Gilead (Gad) didn’t cross the Jordan to fight, but did not imply cowardice. However, Moses’ prophecy actually defines Elijah’s future actions on Mt. Carmel in the great battle of “God” versus evil: Deuteronomy 33:20 states “He lies down as a lion, and tears the arm, also the crown of the head.” When Elijah single-handedly killed 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah, he was acting as a lion. 1 Kings 18:40 (implies only Baal) and 1 Kings 19:1 (implies Baal and Asherah). Deuteronomy 33:21 says “…he came with the leaders of the people; he executed the justice of the Lord, and His ordinances with Israel.” King Ahab issued a decree that all Israel was to assemble on Mt. Carmel along with all the prophets of Baal and Asherah, 1 Kings 18:19-20, so Moses’ prophecy was fulfilled to the letter; and then Elijah executed the justice of the Lord upon them.
So, I believe Elijah was a descendant of Gad, whose Tribe had been living, usually quietly, on the wrong side of the Jordan, away from all the great battles of Saul and David; away from the great temple built and dedicated to God by Solomon. Elijah could have remained quiet himself. But, he had an innate sense of justice and he must have begun to read the scriptures at an early age, and to have put his faith in God and dedicated his life to God. Then, he must have passed on from there, to knowing God intimately; at some point being baptized in God’s Spirit, as all the true Prophets of God were in the Old Testament. Numbers 11:29. Then, he began to learn to hear God’s voice, and see God in the circumstances of things that occurred around him, and in his family, and in his community, and in Israel as a nation. He would have often heard God’s Word, and then made a public proclamation to those around him, and the proclamation would have come to pass. Then, at some point, the voice he heard stirred him and he thought he heard God say to him “Go, and tell King Ahab that it will not rain until you, Elijah, say that it will”. He was believing that God had entrusted to him control over the physical elements, when the direction of the Lord wanted it so.
The final thing Elijah had to do, the hardest thing, was to accept that he had heard God correctly, to resolve to put his faith on the line publicly and to be willing to endure public, universal, humiliation if it were not so. But he set his face as flint and he took the first big step – he crossed the Jordan River to the west side, then faced the “thicket of the Jordan”, then the mountain ridge that he needed to ascend to go to Samaria where King Ahab’s court was. Maybe you have been hearing something from the Lord for a long time, and He has continued to remind you, in His subtle way, that it was still on its way, and you have lost hope; maybe you have given up. I say it is time to get your faith in hearing, and following, and loving, and obeying God back, and arise, with the power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, to go forth to do what God has called you to do and has annointed you to do. Elijah had to do this; will we?