Animals, Colors, Metals, Numbers and Signs in Scripture.
Two -- Witness
Ishmael & Isaac
Witness of Two Births
In contrast, the birth of Isaac was by promise. It was typical of the spiritual birth in that the spiritual birth is also by promise. God promised to Abraham when he was old and well stricken in years that his barren wife Sarah, who was way past child bearing age, that he would restore them both to the time of life and that Sarah would bear a son at the set time in the next year.
According to Rom. 4:18-21, it was said of Abraham, "Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb: he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform." Thus, Isaac was born according to God's promise. He was born at God's set time. He was born contrary to nature.
Gal. 4:28 "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise." Like Isaac's birth, our spiritual birth is according to God's covenant promise in the covenant of redemption (Rom. 8:28-30). Furthermore, our spiritual birth is according to God's set time: John 3:8 "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." Additionally our spiritual birth is contrary to nature: John 6:63 "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."
Another great lesson illustrated in the births of Ishmael and of Isaac is that man wants to help God out. God had been promising to Abram that he would be a father of many nations and that in his seed all nations of the earth would be blessed and in his seed all families of the earth would be blessed. All the time that God had been making these promises Sarai was barren and had gone past normal child-bearing age. Sarai proposed a plan to Abram: Gen. 16:1 "Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. 2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai." Abram went along with this plan in an attempt to help God fulfill his promises. Consequently, Ishmael was born after the flesh. Ishmael's birth, however, did not fulfill the promises of God.
Just as Abram and Sarah attempted to help God fulfill his promises, men today think that God cannot save someone from sin or cause someone to be born again unless man helps him out. The birth of Isaac shows the utter foolishness of such thinking. God does not need nor require man's help in order to fulfill his promises. When Abraham was unable to assist in any way to bring about God's promises, then God performed his promises. The same is true today.
Two are often paired together in the scriptures as a witness to testify unto us basic bible doctrines. Esau and Jacob, the twin sons of Isaac and Rebecca, are paired together to illustrate to us the doctrine of God's election of a people to be his.
Gen. 25:21 "And Isaac entreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was entreated of him, and Rebecca his wife conceived. 22 And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD. 23 And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger." Rebecca was one of the seven women in the scriptures who had been barren, but later had children after that the Lord had intervened. After the Lord intervened Rebecca conceived and had twin sons in her womb. These sons names were Esau and Jacob.
In the ninth chapter of Romans these two sons are used to illustrate God's doctrine of election of a people to be his: Rom. 9:10 "And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; 11 (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) 12 It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. 13 As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated."
In the pronouncements of God given to Rebecca we see that God made a distinction between these two boys in that he said: "Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger." We also see as set forth in Rom. 9:11 that God's distinction between these two was not based on works for this distinction was pronounced before they were even born, nor had they either done good or evil. Thus, works had nothing to do with God's choice. Since the children were not yet born, they had no choice in this selection. The choice was completely and totally of God and God indicates that it was not based on works either having been done or foreseen works.
Next we see God's view of these two sons also before they were born, in that God said "Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated." God loved Jacob before he was born, and he hated Esau before he was born or had done any works, either good or evil.
Furthermore, we are told that this is God's purpose according to election. God's people, that he elected before the foundation of the world, had done neither good works or evil works when God elected them. Furthermore, those God did not elect before the foundation of the world, had done neither good works or evil works, when God did not choose them. Some have contended that God looked down through time and saw who would do good or accept him and based his election on what he foresaw. Psalms 14 disproves this notion: Ps. 14:2 "The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. 3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one." Thus, foreseen works or foreseen actions of men had nothing to do with God's election of a people to be his.
In conclusion, God chose a people and loved them before the foundation of the world and that choice was solely and totally by the grace of God. Furthermore, he did not choose some people to be his. These he hated and that lack being chosen was solely and totally by the sovereign act of a sovereign God. Jacob and Esau illustrate this great doctrine of election.
Elisha Foreshadow the Coming of Jesus
Elisha, however, was the greater prophet. When Elijah was taken up into glory, Elisha had asked for a double portion of the spirit of Elijah: 2 Kings 2: 9 "And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. 10 And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. 11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces. 13 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; 14 And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over."
The Lord used Elijah to perform seven miracles. The Lord used Elisha to perform fourteen miracles, thus a double portion. When Elisha's time came for him to die, the Lord used Elisha to send deliverance to Israel from the Syrian army.
The relationship between Elijah and Elisha mirrors the relationship between John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ. The book of Malachi prophesied that God would send Elijah the prophet to prepare the people for the coming of Christ: Mal. 4:5 "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: 6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."
The Lord testified at the Mount of Transfiguration that it was John the Baptist that came in the spirit and power of Elijah: Matt. 17:10 "And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? 11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. 12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. 13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist."
John was a great prophet, yet he came to prepare the way for a far better prophet, king and high priest. Just as Elijah preceded and paved the way for a greater prophet Elisha, so John was followed by a far greater prophet, the Lord Jesus Christ.