Elijah Taken to Heaven
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Elijah Taken to Heaven
“And it came about when the LORD was about to take up Elijah by a whirlwind to heaven, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal” (2Ki 2:1). The next portion of scripture paints a vivid picture of those who really knew the Lord and those who knew only His acts (Psalm 103:7). At the time of 2 Kings Chapter 2 there were many prophets of God in the land. Many of them were perceptive enough to know that Elijah was going to be taken to heaven by God. But Elijah did everything he could to discourage the prophets, including his servant Elisha, from following him to the place where he was to be taken. The prophets were tested to determine who was the most persistent and had the most intense vision. As it turns out only Elisha passed the test.
Elijah left Gigal and told Elisha to remain there. Elisha refused and followed Elijah against his orders (remember Elisha was Elijah’s servant). Elisha followed Elijah to Bethel and the perceptive prophets at Bethel told Elisha what he already knew i.e. that Elijah was going to be taken by God. Again Elijah commanded his servant Elisha to remain at Bethel but again Elisha disobeyed his master and followed Elijah to Jericho. At Jericho the same thing happened. The prophets at Jericho told Elisha what he already knew, that Elijah was going to be taken. Elisha told the prophets again to “be still”. Elisha refused to be distracted by the information he already knew. He wanted something more and would not be deterred.
Elijah, in one last ditch attempt to deter Elisha and the other prophets from following him Elijah said he was going to the Jorden River and commanded Elisha to remain at Jericho. However Elisha and 50 prophets followed Elijah to the area of the Jordon River. 50 of the prophets stood at a distance but 2 of them actually went with Elijah and Elisha to the banks of the river. Elijah then took his mantle and parted the Jordon River but only he and Elisha crossed the river - everyone else remained behind.
On the other side of the Jorden Elijah calmly folded his mantle and, realizing that he had been unable to shake Elisha off his trail, and realizing that Elisha was probably going to see him be taken to heaven, he asked Elisha what he wanted before he was taken. Being found at the very spot where his master was to be taken up, Elisha told Elijah he wanted a DOUBLE-PORTION of the spirit that was on Elijah that is twice as much. Remember Elijah was the prophet who defeated the 600 prophets of Baal in Israel, caused a drought, caused it to rain, anointed kings and was known as the prophet who “stood in the presence of the Lord” (1 Kings 18:15). How audacious was it for Elisha to ask for a DOUBLE-PORTION of that?
Elijah finally told Elisha that if he actually saw him, Elijah, being taken to heaven he could have his double portion. “Elijah said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.” As they were going along and talking, behold there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven. Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw Elijah no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces” (2Ki 2:1-12).
Since Elisha had seen Elijah go, Elisha immediately began to move in the double portion. “He took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and struck the waters and said, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the waters, they were divided here and there; and Elisha crossed over” (2 Ki 2:14). When Elisha returned to Jericho the prophets could see that the spirit of Elijah was on Elisha. However they did not believe that Elijah had been taken by God. Against Elisha’s word the prophets sent 50 men to look for Elijah. The 50 men did not find him and Elisha said “I told you so”.
Then the men of the city said to Elisha that the land was unfruitful and the water was bad as well. Elijah said: “Bring me a new jar, and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him. He went out to the spring of water and threw salt in it and said, “Thus says the LORD, ‘I have purified these waters; there shall not be from there death or barrenness any longer.’ ”So the waters were purified according to the word of Elisha.
Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up, young lads came out from the city and mocked him and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead; go up, you baldhead!”When he looked behind him and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the LORD. Then two female bears came out of the woods and tore up forty-two lads of their number. He went from there to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria (2Ki 2:19-25).
Elisha continued to move in great miracles. Whether they exceeded Elijah’s miracles is a matter of conjecture. But they were certainly no less great (see remainder of 2 Kings).
*Scriptures from: New American Standard Bible, 95 Edition
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