When I taught Old and New Testament at a Catholic High School, I developed the phrase “Catholics Must Use Bible A.D.D.” to describe how Catholics should read the scriptures. This is my second installment of what I hope to be a regular series for this blog. What I mean by Bible A.D.D. is necessary to understand the Scriptures, is that we need to read New Testament passages in light of the Old Testament and vice versa. We should not isolate Scripture passages in order to decipher their meaning. However, we need to be careful to avoid a Biblical A.D.H.D. in which we too quickly scan over passages without understanding the context of the Bible as a whole.
Today’s topic will consider how the prophet Elisha foreshadowed Jesus Christ. This will be demonstrated via biblical typology. Catholic Bible 101 defines typology in this manner, “Biblical typology is when a person or an event in the Old Testament foreshadows a person or an event in the New Testament (http://www.catholicbible101.com/biblicaltypology.htm). I will outline three ways that Elisha foreshadows Jesus.
Miracle of Multiplication of Food
In 2 Kings 4:42-44, Elisha− through the grace of God− feeds 100 people by way of multiplying the bread. Jesus performs a similar miracle in John 6. Aside from the parallels in the actual miracles themselves, both Elisha and Jesus receive the bread from an unnamed individual (see 2 Kings 4:42 and John 6:9).
Healing of Lepers
Elisha heals the soldier Naaman in 2 Kings 5:9-10 through his command to have the leper wash in the Jordan seven times. Jesus also performs the same type of healing miracle. As with most typological reading everything the Son of God does is greater than the Old Testament type (i.e. Elisha)—here Jesus heals 10 lepers.
Preceded by a Great Prophet
Both Elisha and Jesus were heralded in by a great prophet Elijah and John the Baptist respectively. Interestingly enough, St. Luke draws a connection between these prophets when he says, “It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17 NASB). What is most important is that both prophets point us toward Christ.
Elisha was a holy man of God who prepared for the coming of Jesus Christ. He is one of many types that foreshadow and prepare us for the Incarnation. I will continue to post examples of this typological approach to reading the Scriptures.