This it was that transformed that man of the early dawnlight named Enoch, the seventh from Adam. He was the head of the leading family of the race, the racial leader. He had lived well on into the seventh decade of his life.
Then the change came. He recognized a Presence with him, one day. That One unseen by unseeing eyes became real to him and then more real. He yielded to His wooing. He companioned with Him daily. This came to be the realest thing. And he was transformed by it. He grew constantly less like what he had been, and more like what he was originally meant to be, like his Companion. Constant contact re stored the original likeness. He was transformed before men's eyes, changed over from within.
Then one day the transforming forces had gone so far that he was transferred to the upper levels, where all see His face, and his likeness shines out of all faces. He never got over the sight that came to him that early day.
It was this that wooed the man of Ur away from his ancestral home to be a lonely pilgrim, a stranger among strangers. Nothing less or else could have broken the early attachments, the strongest of the East. That winsome wooing Presence became to him stronger than the strongest human attachments of his family and home land.
This it was that steadied him through the loneliness, the homelessness, the disappointments, the long delays, until it was the image of a new man, a transformed man, a faith-begotten man, that at length looked at him out of the eyes of his only begotten. This it was that steadied him through the hardest test of all with that only begotten, the fire test on Moriah. And that made the transformation yet fuller. For so he grew the liker him to whose presence he insisted on yielding as each test came.
So it was with that rare student of Egypt and Arabia. Trained in the best that man could give in the University of the Nile, and then further trained by absence from man in the University of the Desert, alone with sheep and stars, shifting sand and immovable rock, he wasn't ready for his task yet. He was well trained but not yet transformed.
The fires had to be kindled, purifying, melting, fusing fires. And only fire kindles fire. The fire of the unburnt bush told him first of a new kind of fire, uncatalogued on the Nile. The fire of a Presence burned daily, not consuming him, but only the dross in him, as he led his race from Egypt to Sinai, out from the slavery of men up to the freedom of the presence of God. And then for six weeks, twice over, he was in the Presence of Flame on the Mount.
This it was that utterly changed him into the strongly gentle, patient, tender-hearted, wise man who taught and trained, lived with and led, the immature men and women whom God would weld into a nation, a God-nation. He never got over those two long visits to the Mount, nor has the world.
It was nothing else than this, long years later, that made the rugged man of the deserts brave the traitorous Ahab in his luxurious, licentious court. Without it, the sight obscured, the vision lost, he is a coward fleeing like a whipped dog before a bad woman, thinking only of saving his own skin. It showed himself, his weak, cowardly self, to himself.
A fresh vision that early morning in the mouth of the desert cave made the yet deeper more radical transformation. That unutterably gentle sound of stillness, too exquisite to be told, only to be felt by a spirit in tune, that left him not a whit less willing to brave danger than before, but made over now into another sort, like him whose Presence in the cave so melted him down.
This new, gentled, mellowed, strengthened Elijah reappears in the man who received the birthright portion of his spirit. We know the new Elijah by the spirit that swayed Elisha. The old spirit, fiercely denouncing, calling down fire, slaying the priests, but with no grief-broken heart under these stern needful things,—this we think of familiarly as the Elijah spirit.
The new spirit, healing, teaching, sympathizing, leading, feeding, fathering, the greatness of gentleness and patience, these characteristics of Elijah's prophetic heir tell of the deep radical transformation by the wondrous unseen Presence that early morning in the mouth of the cave. This is the birthright gift of Elijah to Elisha. Elijah had a spirit-sight of God, and he never got over it. He became like Him into whose face he looked.