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If in your heart you make a manger for his birth
Then God will once again become a child on earth.
O God, who wonderfully created, and yet more wonderfully restored, the dignity of human nature: Grant that we may share the divine life of him who humbled himself to share our humanity, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Something to Ponder
Today we begin looking at a second and final typology: the First Elijah and the Second Elijah.
The Old Testament history of Elijah is begins quite suddenly with chapter 17 in the First Book of Kings, and ends quite dramatically when Elijah ascends "in a whirlwind into heaven" in chapter 2 of the Second Book of Kings.
Apart from the fleeting mention of a letter from Elijah in 2 Chronicles 21:12, there is this significant prophecy in the last two verses of the last book of the Old Testament:
"Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse" (Malachi 4:5-6).
In addition to the Hebrew version of the Old Testament, there is a Greek version, compiled by the Greek-speaking Jews living outside of Palestine.
This Greek version is known as the Septuagint, a word that means 70, because it was said to be translated from Hebrew to Greek by 70 Jewish scholars. For this reason, when the Greek wording of a passage in the Septuagint differs from the Hebrew wording, the Greek version is indicated by the Roman numeral LXX.
In addition to the Greek translations of the Hebrew Old Testament, the Septuagint also contains several books which were written after Old Testament and before the New Testament. This collection of books is called the "Apocrypha"— a word that means "hidden"— because these newer books were "hidden" in favor of the older and universally received books of the Hebrew Bible.
Until the fifteenth century Protestant Reformation, the Septuagint was fully recognized by the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.
Most of the emerging Protestant Churches decided that the Apocryphal books shouldn't be recognized, so their Bibles only contain the (Hebrew) Old Testament and the New Testament.
The Anglican (Episcopal) Church, while recognizing the value of the Apocrypha, decided it should not be used to determine the doctrine (official teaching) of the Church, so in our Bibles the Apocrypha is placed either between the Old and New Testaments (which is chronologically appropriate), or after the New Testament (reflecting their lesser status).
All this is by way of introducing this wonderful summary of Elijah's career in the Apocryphal book of Ecclesiasticus, also known (variously) as The Wisdom of Jesus son of Sirach, or, simply, Sirach (48:1-11):
"Then Elijah arose, a prophet like fire, and his word burned like a torch.
"He brought a famine upon them, and by his zeal he made them few in number.
"By the word of the Lord he shut up the heavens, and also three times brought down fire.
"How glorious you were, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! Whose glory is equal to yours?
"You raised a corpse from death and from Hades, by the word of the Most High.
"You sent kings down to destruction, and famous men, from their sickbeds.
"You heard rebuke at Sinai and judgments of vengeance at Horeb.
"You anointed kings to inflict retribution, and prophets to succeed you.
"You were taken up by a whirlwind of fire, in a chariot with horses of fire.
"At the appointed time, it is written, you are destined to calm the wrath of God before it breaks out in fury, to turn the hearts of parents to their children, and to restore the tribes of Jacob.
"Happy are those who saw you and were adorned with your love! For we also shall surely live."
Any idea whom the Second Elijah might be?
O God, make the door of my heart wide enough to receive all who need human love and fellowship, and a heavenly Father's care; and narrow enough to shut out all envy, pride, and hate. Make its threshold smooth enough to be no stumbling block to children, nor to straying feet, but rugged enough to turn back the tempter's power. Make it a gateway to your eternal kingdom. Amen.
Thomas Ken, Bishop of Bath and Wells, 1637-1711