In these verses, the 27-year ministry of the prophet Elijah is coming to an end and he is about to pass the mantle of leadership on to his apprentice Elisha. Elijah was single-mindedly committed to communicating God’s messages to the kings of Israel, primarily to the wicked King Ahab and his wife Jezebel, during a time when the nation was turning from God and towards the Babylonian god Baal. Ahab saw Elijah as an adversary because he generally brought bad news. He refused to take the correct actions that God was suggesting through Elijah.
Key Verses: (NRSV)
1: “Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind…” – Elijah had proven to be an extraordinary disciple for God and, because of this, his life would not end in an ordinary way.
2: “Elijah says to Elisha, “Stay here for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” – Three times during their journey to the river Jordan where Elijah is to ascend into heaven, he instructs his protégé to stay behind.
6: “…But he said, “As the Lord lives, and you yourself live, I will not leave you.” – And three times Elisha responds and demonstrates his commitment to God and to Elijah. His determination to stay with his master would not be swayed.
8: “Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.” – Just as God had parted the waters of the Red Sea and the River Jordan for the people of the Exodus, He opens the way for His favored prophet to come home.
9: “Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me what I may do for you...’ Elisha said, ‘Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.’” – This was not a selfish request. Elisha was demonstrating that his love of Elijah was as a son; requesting only that inheritance that a son would expect to receive.
12: “Elisha kept watching and crying out, ‘Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’” – God granted Elisha’s request of inheritance by allowing him to watch Elijah being drawn into heaven. Elisha’s response was to mourn the loss of his mentor.
14: “He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen… When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over." – A mentorship completed and a ministry continued.
Points to Contemplate:
Are you as single-minded and determined to be a disciple for Christ as Elijah and Elisha?
Does today’s story demonstrate to you that God rewards that kind of faithfulness? Elijah was involved many amazing miracles during his life, not the least of which was his entrance into heaven. However, the most amazing miracle was his personal relationship with God. Are you open and available for that miracle to occur in your life?
What does today’s story teach you about leadership? Are you mentoring a replacement? Elisha’s training continued to the very end of Elijah’s time on earth. He was taught the importance of dedication in the life of ministry. In your positions of leadership, are you focused on the training of those who will take your position after you leave? Can you leave an inheritance that is meaningful and worthwhile to those who follow?
Who do you emulate? Is there someone in your life that possesses a quality or trait you admire? What was that attribute? Is it the reason for their success in ministry? Does it uniquely set them apart as disciples of Christ? As you watch your mentor are you discovering that the fruits of the Spirit are the most meaningful traits for anyone in ministry? Is the attribute you admire most a fruit of the Spirit? If it is, do you realize that it is available to you through prayer and constant study of God’s Word? That in your pathway to holiness, Christ is creating you anew and filling you with the fruits of His Spirit? Promises of the Gospel:
Elisha followed Elijah until the very end, soaking up all information and rights of inheritance he could, but once he was left behind, he turned and returned to the tasks that lay before him. And as he did, he learned that the gifts and skills of Elijah were now his. But developing the determination and stamina to successfully achieve the goals and objectives that God has provided is only part of the story. Whereas we can look with our heads in the clouds at the glories yet to be achieved, turning and facing the grindstone of daily ministry and the step-by-step process to holiness is where all victories will be won.