II Kings 2:1-18
I’ve done a few Bible stories about Elijah on my site. This is the last in the series.
Elijah was a godly man. He did as God asked without hesitating or questioning. He loved the Lord, and I’m sure he wanted to be with Him. Today, he gets his desire, and this is how it happened.
Elijah was a prophet of God, after his departure, Elisha was going to be the prophet in his place. Elijah and Elisha were at Gilgal. (Gilgal is the place Joshua led the Israelites, after wandering 40 years in the wilderness, across the Jordan into the promised land. He then piled stones there as a memorial as to what God did for them. You can read about this in your Bible, Joshua 4:19-24) Elijah is getting close to enter the promised land (Heaven) for all believers. Elijah told Elisha to stay at Gilgal because the Lord had called him to Bethel. (Bethel means “house of God”. It’s the place where, in a dream, Jacob saw angels ascending and descending on a ladder to Heaven. God told him there he would give him and his seed that land. Jacob received the same blessing as his father Abraham for his descendants When he awoke, he said “Surely the Lord is in this place” and he named it Bethel (Gen 28:10-19)
Elisha knew that Elijah was going to be taken away this day. There was no way he wanted to be away from Elijah when that time came. Listen to his response, “As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. “(2:2)
So they travelled together to Bethel.
At Bethel the sons of the prophets met them and said to Elisha “Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head today?:” Elisha already knew it and answered, “Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace” (v.3)
Again Elijah told him to tarry there at Bethel because the Lord was now sending him to Jericho. (Jericho is the city God delivered into Joshua’s hands when they entered the promised land in Joshua chapter 6)
At Jericho the sons of the prophets came to Elisha and said, “Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head today?” (5)
Elisha answered, “Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace” (5)
Again Elijah said to Elisha to tarry there because the Lord was sending him to Jordan.( Remember,Israel had to cross the Jordan to enter the promised land.) Elijah is getting ready to enter the Promised Land for all believers. Again Elisha answered “As the Lord liveth, and as thy sould liveth, I will not leave thee.” (v6)
At the Jordan River, fifty of the sons of the prophets came to watch. While they watched, Elijah and Elisha came to the banks of the river. Elijah stood on the bank and wrapped his mantle (cloak) and hit the river. The Bible tells us the waters were “divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground. (v.8)
I’m sure if the fifty prophets had cameras you would hear click, click, click everywhere as picture after picture was taken. You would think all 50 prophets would run to the river to cross over with them, why did none of them follow? Maybe we will get a hint of the reason in a few verses.
Once again Elijah and Elisha were by themselves on the other side of the river. Elisha had three times refused to leave Elijah. Elijah knew very soon he would be leaving Elisha. While they were walking and talking Elijah spoke what was on his heart, “Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee.” (v.9)
Elisha made the biggest request of his life—one that would change his whole life, “…I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.” (v.9)
He asked more than Elijah could give; only God could give that. So, being a man of God and a man of wisdom, he put that decision solely on God. “And he said, “Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee: but if not, it shall not be so.” (v.10)
I’m sure Elisha didn’t even want to look off to the side. He wanted to see Elijah at that precise second.
The two good friends continued on walking and talking. Suddenly “…there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder: and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” (11)
The first part of v. 12 says, “And Elisha saw it…”
If Elijah was a true prophet (and he was) that meant that now Elisha had a double portion of Elijah’s spirit.
Elisha cried out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof.” (v.12) Then he rent (or tore) his clothes in two pieces. He knew he had been in the presence of a holy man and a Holy God. He be stooped and picked up Elijah’s mantle. The mantle dropped from Elijah when he was taken on his glorious ride. Elisha reverently carried it back to the banks of the Jordan River and smote the river, crying out, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” (14) When he hit the water, the river parted for him, just like it had for Elijah.
Remember the sons of the prophets that had come to watch the two prophets cross? They were still there. Immediately when they saw the waters part they said, “The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha.” (15) They came to meet him and even bowed before him.
Right away they wanted to send 50 strong men to seek for Elijah in case the Spirit of the Lord had taken him up and cast him on a mountain or in a valley. What kind of faith did they have in God? Do you think this lack of complete trust is the reason they didn’t make an effort to follow Elijah and Elisha when they crossed the Jordan?
Elisha answered “ye shall not send” (16c) Elisha trusted God more than that. Still the prophets pressed him, and sometimes we see in Scripture when people are determined and press, God lets them go their own way. So they went searching for three days. But God, Who is capable of sending a whirlwind and chariots and horses of fire for his man, is also capable of taking him all the way to heaven.
In Luke 9:28-36 when Jesus walked on earth, we see that when He was transfigured before the disciples, they also saw Elijah and Moses. So we have an account in the Bible that God did take Elijah to be with Him.
When the prophets returned from their search, Elisha spoke to them, “…Did I not say unto you, Go not?” (v.18) That was a reminder to them that they were acting on their own wisdom and desires, not on the message or wisdom of God’s man.