The Bible truly is an amazing book. In 2 Kings 2:1-10 we have a fascinating record of history. In this passage, we are told of the departure of Elijah. He had the tremendous honor of not tasting physical death like the false prophets he confronted but was supernaturally transferred to heaven. The account of this experience is worth a second look.
In summary, Elijah somehow knew from a revelation from God that he was going to be taken to heaven. Prior to this, Elisha has made a commitment to follow his mentor Elijah and serve as Elijah’s replacement. Elisha had made this vow to God back in 1 Kings 19:19-21. Elisha was “all in” in serving God as his new prophet and nothing would allow him to miss the event of Elijah’s miraculous departure, or learn from his mentor.
As the story unfolds, Elijah seems to test Elisha’s commitment to this vow by encouraging him three times to remain behind and be comfortable as he goes alone to serve God. This may not have just been a test of Elisha’s commitment, but some have suggested this was also evidence of Elijah’s struggle to accept the fact that God was replacing him with Elisha.
It was common in that culture for the first born son to receive a special blessing by their father as he was nearing death. When Elisha requested a double portion for of Elijah’s spirit, it most like was a reference to this practice. As Konkel clarifies, “Elisha is not requesting twice the prophetic spirit of Elijah, but rather the right to the office of Elijah, double the portion of other heirs of the prophetic office.”
So what can be learned today from this amazing story? For me, a few things stand out. The first is that God lives up to his promises. God told Elijah that he would be replaced by Elisha and we see that fulfilled. Second, our actions sometimes have consequences that cannot be reversed. Elijah’s choice to doubt God meant the end of his service as a prophet. Third, even though Elijah was an imperfect servant, God lavished him with the amazing blessing of his departure to heaven. This shows God’s amazing grace and mercy in the life of Elijah. Fourth, God’s work will continue with or without me. I am not indispensable. Fifth, we still serve a God of miracles today. Nothing is beyond his ability. Sixth, I love the response of Elisha when he could have taken an easier path than obedience to God’s service. He said, “I will not leave you.”
Father, what a story in the Bible! Yet, this is not a story, but history. Wow! You are an amazing God and to see Elijah taken to heaven must have been overwhelming! May I be as faithful as we see Elisha in this story. May I be able to say “I will never leave you” in relation to my commitment to you and your leadership for my life.
Following Jesus with you,