(Summary of the sermon:13 Mar 2016)
And it came to pass, when the Lord was about to take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. Then Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me on to Bethel.”
But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!” So they went down to Bethel.
Now the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?”
And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent!”
Then Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me on to Jericho.”
But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!” So they came to Jericho.
Now the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho came to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?”
So he answered, “Yes, I know; keep silent!”
Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me on to the Jordan.”
But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!” So the two of them went on. And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went and stood facing them at a distance, while the two of them stood by the Jordan. Now Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up, and struck the water; and it was divided this way and that, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground.
And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?”
Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.”
So he 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.” Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces. He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over.
2 Kings 2:1-14
It was time for Elijah to home to Heaven. So he undertook a journey from Gilgal to Jordan. He is not alone in this journey though. His successor and beloved disciple Elisha determinedly follows him. Even though at different points Elijah tried to discourage him from making the trek with him, Elisha refused to leave his side until he received a double portion of Elijah’s spirit.
On the surface, Elisha’s request for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit seems very selfish and brash. But if we look carefully, we will understand the real reasons. Let us study them today.
- FAITH, OBEDIENCE AND COURAGE
Elisha was already chosen as Elijah’s successor. But Elisha knew that he could not fulfill his role as the prophet of Israel without God’s power. He had seen Elijah’s spirit of faith and obedience. When God sent ravens to feed him, Elijah obeyed God completely. He had seen Elijah’s courage when he stood against King Ahab and his wicked wife. He wanted a double portion of that spirit to fill him so that he could be more faithful, obedient and courageous.
In this world, we need God’s spirit to help us stand strong for Him and to go from one level of glory to another.
- POWER FOR SURVIVAL
Israel was going through a dark period. An idol worshipping king was at the helm and Elijah knew that he could not face the days ahead without power from God. His own character, talents, wisdom and plans would not be sufficient to survive. He recognized his weakness, humbled himself and asked for more power to live for God.
- W. Tozer said that 95% of the whole world that was brought to the Lord in the first century was brought by the influence of the Holy Spirit alone. Many of us too don’t realize that we need to hang on to God’s Spirit for survival, whether it is in terms of a relationship or job or being able to influence the world around us. God can fulfill His promises for us and through us. But the question is – Are we are willing to depend on Him? The only condition that Elijah placed was that Elisha needed to be faithful till the end. Elisha was. What is our response? Let us not quit or get distracted by things of the world.
Elisha was discouraged from following Elijah by many sons of prophets. They probably were trying to tell him to start something new instead of going behind Elijah. They had other suggestions for him. But Elisha shushed them and continued on his journey.
We might face opinion, slander, gossip and slanderous words trying to oppose us. But instead of getting affected by them, let us trust that our God is our answer.
My dad once told me that too much of anything is not good. He advised me to be a balanced Christian because even too much of God is not good. But the truth is that God is the only one whom we can never have too much of. Let us continue to stay committed to our God even though it looks foolish. Like Joseph, Daniel, David, Paul and Jesus, let us pursue God and not be dissuaded by our detractors.
Elijah and Elisha’s journey took them from Gilgal, to Bethel, to Jericho and finally to Jordan. Each of these places had historic significances.
Gilgal was where the Israelites were circumcised for the first time. It was a place of new beginnings.
Bethel was where Jacob saw the dream of angels ascending and descending.
Jericho was where the walls of the city had broken down miraculously. It was the place of past victories.
Elisha could have stopped at any of these places and settled down to begin his ministry. But none of these opportunities stopped Elisha’s quest.
New beginnings are amazing but sometimes they cause us to stagnate. We must have dreams, but we must not stop with dreaming. We must be willing to live out those dreams. Looking back at past victories is encouraging, but after a while it is pointless to hover there. We need to move ahead and gain new ground.
The Bible says that the sons of the prophets also had followed Elijah and Elisha but when it came to Jordan they stopped. They stood at a distance to watch what would happen. Elisha however went ahead to Jordan. He was not a quitter. As a result he was the only one who got the extra portion of Elijah’s spirit.
Let us also, like Elisha, be willing to carry our cross and die to ourselves so that we can experience the power of resurrection.
Let me conclude with a real life incident. When we quit our jobs and started our ministry, my wife and I had no money. One day, we were invited to dinner to someone’s home. To get to the place we had to walk a short distance. Even though we weren’t big fans of walking, we set out. On our way, we met a man who had attended a session that I had taken in MCC College a few months ago. He told us that one of the girls who had attended that session had given Rs. 300/- to be passed on to us. We were stunned by God’s provision! We can boldly testify that in all these years God has never forsaken us.
Our God wants us to only hang on to Him. No matter how bleak our circumstances and situations are, if God has promised us, he won’t leave us or forsake us.
Please feel free to share your thoughts on this message in the comments section below.