His name meant “God is Salvation” and he was supposed to prove the salvation that God could offer. He had to step into the shoes of a son named “Yahweh is God.” His predecessor had been a man of great exploits and had left an indelible mark on the history of Israel. To make matters interesting he had been taken away in grand style. Now this man had to come into the picture and take over. And his name was Elisha.
God had proven Himself throughout the life and ministry of Elijah and now He set out to prove the being He is- a God of Salvation. The call of Elisha is a unique and wonderful account. Elijah had given up on his ministry and wanted to die but God stood up and declared that a successor had to be anointed. His choice was Elisha. We have already read about how God appeared to Elijah and told him to anoint three men who were going to finish the job that Elijah had given up on.
THE FIRST PORTION
Elijah came down from the mountain of the LORD and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen. He was leading the 12th pair. The number 12 speaks of establishing. He was establishing things in the field and God was keen on establishing Elisha as the new man of God. The number was symbolic in its own right. It was time for establishment of a new truth in Israel that God was the LORD of salvation. And who else was to be established except the man who bore a similar name.
Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. There was something that happened at that moment. It was a deposit of God’s Spirit on the man that was to conscientise him as to what God had done. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. He knew that something had happened. Why would the prophet of Israel come to him and just throw his cloak on him for no reason? He knew that he had to leave and find out why he had been given that cloak.
When he got to Elijah he said to him, “Let me kiss my father and mother good-bye and then I will come with you” 1 Kings 19:20. Elisha had made his decision to follow the great prophet and wanted time to say good-bye to his family. Now was the point of separation and he wanted to make sure the prophet understood this fact. But the reply was a bit scary. “Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?” Maybe he had not realised that the deposit of the Spirit of God had already begun to stir up Elisha.
Wake up Elijah you have anointed the next prophet. Maybe he was bitter in a way about the successor. Maybe he didn’t want to anoint Elisha but something was already at work. What had Elijah done to Elisha? Maybe he understood the magnitude of the task and job at hand. It was no easy job being a prophet and he was afraid for the young lad. If this young man was going to fit into his shoes maybe it was bad. He would have to face the bitterness of Jezebel and face her wrath. Was Elijah ready to let this young man face this? Maybe he regretted resigning.
But whatever he said couldn’t damper the young man’s spirit because he was determined to go. After all he had heard about the exploits of Elijah and here was the opportunity to join the exciting lifestyle and even get to be an apprentice of this great man. Who knows what doors were going to open and whether he could be the next successor. But with such harsh words what would happen next?
Elisha left him and went back. What a false start, we would assume. Was this the end of a dream that seemed so bright a few minutes ago? And how dare Elijah raise up false hopes in this youngster? Probably we read the wrong script. Elisha took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the ploughing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate.
Elisha decided to put an end to his old lifestyle. No more was he going to be a farmer. His days were over and there had been a career shift. After all he was still young and had the space and time to do so. Elijah had anointed Elisha into the ministry of prophecy and he was eager for the challenge. From ploughing fields, Elisha would from this day on plough people’s lives through the reigns of Kings Joram, Jehu, Jehoahaz and Jehoash.
The act of slaughtering his oxen and burning the equipment was symbolic in its own right and confirmed his dedication to the new job. He understood that there was a need to put his foot down and decide what he wanted to do. He must have read about Jesus and how He said a man who puts his hand to the plough but then looks back is unfit for the Kingdom. Jesus said this to teach us that our past life can be a distraction in future.
Elisha didn’t want any distractions in future. He knew that if he still had oxen they could come back to his mind and cause him to return. He wanted to make a clean break from his farming days and start afresh. What’s more there was a challenging life waiting for him with the man of God. He decided to burn his equipment and throw a farewell party for the people he once worked with. So the pomp and fun was done.
There must have been some detractors who questioned his deed and labelled him a fool but he stood his ground and said he was going. His parents may have tried their best to make him change his mind but he refused. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant. How many of us today would take that stance? It was a tough decision but it had to be made. When God calls us most of us are not eager to leave our comfort zones for the lifestyle of Elijah but Elisha was. We need to forget the past and set out and attend to someone. It is there that we can learn a lot.
Elisha must have had a hard time locating Elijah and convincing him that he was serious about this new commitment. He too might have told Elisha to go back home and forget about it but he determination on the young boy’s face was confidence enough for Elijah to take him on board. Maybe during the farewell party and the time of locating Elijah, God had ministered to Elijah and told him to take the lad on board. But we do know that a compromise was reached when Elisha attended to Elijah. Ahead lay a new task.
In life today we must adopt the Elisha attitude and burn all our past dependence and set out to follow Elijah. What really was charming about him that would cause a young man like Elisha to throw his future out of the window? As we have already read Elijah was a man of awesome declarative authority. But what did he have to do with Elisha? The Elijah movie part 1 had ended without any sight of Elisha and all must have forgotten about him. But when the part 2 classic was out there was no denying that this young man had a future in the industry.
THE DOUBLE PORTION
We meet up with the two men in 2 Kings 2 when Elijah was on his way to the chariot experience. When the LORD was about to take up Elijah to heaven in a whirlwind, the two were on their way from Gilgal. It was here that Elijah told the lad to stay. Gilgal was a place of new beginnings. From scripture we notice that it was at Gilgal that the covenant of circumcision was renewed. It was at Gilgal that the manna stopped falling. Gilgal was just a place of new beginnings. Elisha had already had his new beginning. He was keen on completing the journey he had started. Gilgal was also part of Samuel’s circuit and Elisha wanted to complete his circuit as well. He refused to remain.
“As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you” 2 Kings 2:2. So they went down to Bethel. Bethel was the House of God. It was the place of worship. Elisha knew that it was the place where the word of God would be taught. He had all the time in the world to learn about God and was not going to wait there to learn. In the House of God there was a need to participate in the activities of God. But Elisha saw the need for evangelism. He had to go out and evangelise.
The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, “Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?” Elisha replied that he knew but that it wasn’t going to stop him getting what the LORD had prepared from him. He told them to keep quiet about it. The sons of the prophets had been at Bethel for a long time but they didn’t know what God had prepared. Elisha suspected that Elijah had something to offer and he was sticking with him.
Elijah was so determined to leave Elisha behind and leaving Bethel he told Elisha to remain as he was headed to Jericho. Again he refused to remain. Jericho was a place of breakthroughs. It was at Jericho that the walls fell before Israel. It was a place of open doors. Elisha had received the breakthrough when he got the cloak cover but he needed more than that. He was not content on a breakthrough. He wanted to go on. Leaving here Jericho the sons of the prophets reminded him of the imminent departure of Elijah. He refused to believe this statement
In the face of all these refusals one may be tempted to ask why the declarative authority of Elijah was refusing to work. In 1 Kings 19:20 Elijah thought he had rid himself of Elisha but little did he know that on that occasion he had done something which had to be fulfilled. There was a purpose in this son’s life and God was putting a damper on Elijah’s declarative authority.
Elijah told him that he had to go on to Jordan. Jordan was the place of separation. It was the place of crossing over. The children of Israel had crossed over to their inheritance by this River. It was here that Elisha was prepared to go as far. He wanted to cross over to a new place. Probably there was something yonder. When they got to the threshold of the Jordan Elijah took his cloak and struck the water and it split allowing them to cross over on dry ground.
There must have been a tint of excitement when the waters parted. Elisha must have felt that his hour had come and he was anticipating more. Why? It was because Elijah had not talked about any mission beyond the Jordan. When they were across Elijah said to him, “Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken from you?” That must have been the reason that Elisha had been tagging along. There was a question across the Jordan. There is a question that will be asked you across the Jordan and if you are like Elisha you will have a ready answer.
“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit” 2 Kings 2:9. Wow! He had been persistent for a reason- he wanted a double portion on top of the one portion that had been given to him in his home field. In life today we need men like Elisha who will leave their land, burn up their equipment, slaughter their trusted cows and follow Elijah. Even if he says, “go back,” tell him you are coming as long as the LORD and he live. You never know, across the Jordan you may get your double portion of anointing.
In Numbers 11:17 we find God telling Moses that He would take some of the Spirit on him and place it on the 70 elders so they would help unburden him. Here Elisha also sought the double portion of inheritance to get recognition of his being heir to Elijah’s office. Though a hard ask, Elijah gave him a promise. “If you see me when I am taken it will be yours- otherwise not” 2 Kings 2:10. He had to see Elijah being taken away for him to get the promise.
There will be times when God will say to you, “You need to see it before you can get it.” You cannot chase after what you cannot see. Your pursuit is determined by your vision. That is why the prophet Haggai would say, “write down your vision on stone tablets, so that he who reads it may run with it.” Write it down and make it plain, so that anybody who reads it can “run” with it. God knows that we can only be motivated when we see. There is a saying that goes a little something like this, “Seeing is believing.” We can only get the promise of Elijah when we see him go.
Elisha was preparing himself for this great departure and he was not letting the opportunity slip away. He had left the place of new beginning, come to the House of God, left the land of breakthroughs and finally made it to the Jordan and he was ready for whatever was to come. As the two continued on the journey a great event took place. Elijah was translated and Elisha saw him go. “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” was the cry of Elisha. He had seen his master go so he was the right candidate for the promise.
We read that Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart. He took the cloak that had fallen off Elijah's back as his own. He knew that there was power in that cloak and so he dissociated himself from is own lifestyle to adopt that of Elijah. How sad it is that some of us will not remove our own garments of the past sinful life for the cloak of righteousness offered by Jesus. The cloak with the double-portioned cloak was left behind and the minute Elisha put it on he became the treble portioned prophet.
THE TREBLE PORTION
Elisha picked up the cloak but was confused. As long as Elijah was around he went on. Now that he was gone what next? He took the cloak that had fallen from him and struck the water with it. Elijah was gone what about his God? “Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over 2 Kings 2:14. He crossed over to write his own piece of history. Are you also positioned to get across and write your own piece of history? Now is the season to seek the God of your mentor and see if He can operate in like manner for you as He did your Elijah.
The company of the prophets from Jericho who were watching acknowledged that indeed the spirit of Elijah was resting on Elisha. He too had assurance that Elijah’s God was now his own God. He could go out with that confidence even when the prophets were pestering him to seek Elijah somewhere. When he gave them the go ahead to look for him they failed to locate him. Why? It was because God had completed the blockbuster. It was time for a new star to rise and his name was Elisha.
After the Jordan experience Elisha decided to retrace the footsteps of Elijah and enjoy the favour of the places he had refused to remain at. The two had been in a hurry to get to the Jordan and there was now need to slowly retrace and partake of the relevance of these places. There is that need in your life to retrace the footsteps of your predecessors and see the things you missed the first time around. There may be something you may have missed and now that you have all the time you need to go back and enjoy the favour of that area.
The first stop was Jericho. The problem with this place was that the water was bad. The men of the city said to Elisha, “Look, our lord, this town is well situated, as you can see, but the water is bad and the land is unproductive” 2 Kings 2:19. As an Elisha son you will be called upon to get to places where the water is bad and as a result the land becomes unproductive. Water was an essential need and it was useful in many regards. We need not forget that the town was well situated.
Jericho must have been suffering from the curse of Joshua and he must have forgotten that one day the Israelites would need to inhabit the city. The men of the town had tried their hand at farming and they must have failed dismally. They may have heard about the waters of Marah and knew that there was a way of making these whole. So they decided to visit the man of God to complain.
There will be times when you will be called upon to visit a place where there a curse has been laid. It may be one of the most important resources and when the men of the town come to you they will remind you of many things. They will tell you that their town is well situated. It may be a place that is the border of your land. All people coming from the desert had to come in this way and there was a need to create a favourable impression. As an entry port into Israel there was a need to satisfy all visitors and the water had to be good.
Elisha needed to prove his name to the men of Jericho. God had to prove His salvation to these men through His representative, as He would do likewise with you. Elisha told the men to bring him a new bowl and put salt in it. He took it and went out to the spring and threw the salt into it saying, “This is what the LORD says: ‘I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.’” And the water has remained wholesome to this day according to the word Elisha had spoken.
How exciting it is that sons in the mould of Elisha are capable of declaring things that last a lifetime. That is exactly what this son decided to do. He was specific in his request for a bowl and salt. He knew that as the salt of the earth he could leave a mark on the world. He understood in the prophetic that Jesus has said salt had an effect of purifying things. We too need to purify whatever we meet up with that is not pure. We need to affect well-situated towns so that we can leave their towns wholesome and habitable.
Joshua could have caused the residents of Jericho to suffer a while under the burden of the curse but Elisha was equal to the task to declare the acceptable year of the LORD. He understood that the time had come for the salvation of the town. And from that day on till today the waters of Jericho have been wholesome. Elijah did his own act of declarative speaking. It took faith that “Yahweh is God” now was “God is Salvation.”
From here he made his way to Bethel. There were things in the House of God that needed to be put in order. As leader of the school of the prophets Elisha needed to set straight the ways of God. He was a responsible leader and he knew that God would not tolerate any misdemeanours in His House. The same is true today where the House of God has been taken for granted. Not only is the Church building abused and taken in vain, so too is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, our bodies, abused beyond measure and that by professing sons and daughters of the Most High God.
Elisha knew that there was a lot wrong and so he set out on this journey. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. “Go on up, you baldhead!” they said. Here were disrespectful youths mocking at God’s anointed representative. How dare you touch the anointed of God, don’t you know that you are touching the pupil of the LORD’s Eye? The same is true of many youths today who have left the way of respect to mock at their elders.
Elisha was going to have no more of this culture grow unchecked and so he decided to remedy the situation. We too need elders who will stem the growth of a new culture that has affected today’s youth. He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the Name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled them, 42 in total. That was something terrible, a curse called down on these youths at the House of God. No more would they see the ladder reaching down from heaven like Jacob had in his flight to Paddan Aram.
What power lay in the Name of the LORD, if only we would understand that and know what His Name can do. He says “I Am Who I Am” and the Name LORD speaks of a relationship between the true God and His people. He is with His people. Elisha knew this fact so must we. Let us challenge situations in the Name of the LORD and learn to be overcomers through it. There is no better way to get a breakthrough than through the Name that is above all names.
Though the Bible doesn’t record it, one can assume that Elisha packed his bags for Gilgal. It was here that he remembered the covenant he had made with God. There was a need to remind God that he was still serious with his commitment to the prophetic office. At times it will take you going back to the place where you made your covenant with God and remind Him of your commitment to the work up ahead. At first Elijah had told him to remain here but he had been prepared to go on. Now that you have the double portion, go back and reaffirm your covenant with the LORD.
And then he went on to that fervent prayer sight- Mt Carmel. He retraced the steps of Elijah up that path he had taken as he went to destroy the 850 false prophets, stopping at the altar that had been rebuilt and pausing to reflect on what was going through the mind of his great master. Little did he know that he too was going to be great in the sight of all Israel. When he got to the top of the Mount he too must have prayed the seventh and perfect prayer of Elijah and seen his own cloud of spiritual rain rise. After this experience he descended and went back to Samaria to begin his prophetic ministry.
Probably on the way up the Mount he was reliving past conquests but whatever it was, he too had a revelation and was now going out to conquer the world. We need to all retrace the footsteps of the men and women of faith and have our own revelation of what God wants us to do in life. He has a better plan for us than the one He had for the guys who went before us. Remember we are the workmanship of God and there are good works that God has created in advance for us to do. Daily we should walk in and towards them.
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