Chariots of Fire, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, passing of the mantel — these are well-known phrases and a song that come out of this next chapter. Here we see the end of Elijah’s mission and the start of Elisha’s. Yes, I know, the names sound so similar and it’s easy to get them mixed up. We’re in the year 851 BC, or so and we witness the 2nd Rapture in the Bible. I’ll explain. Let’s dig in…
2 Kings 2
When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were traveling from Gilgal. 2 And Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, for the Lord has told me to go to Bethel.”
But Elisha replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, I will never leave you!” So they went down together to Bethel.
3 The group of prophets from Bethel came to Elisha and asked him, “Did you know that the Lord is going to take your master away from you today?”
“Of course I know,” Elisha answered. “But be quiet about it.”
4 Then Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, for the Lord has told me to go to Jericho.”
But Elisha replied again, “As surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, I will never leave you.” So they went on together to Jericho.
5 Then the group of prophets from Jericho came to Elisha and asked him, “Did you know that the Lord is going to take your master away from you today?”
“Of course I know,” Elisha answered. “But be quiet about it.”
6 Then Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, for the Lord has told me to go to the Jordan River.”
But again Elisha replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, I will never leave you.” So they went on together.
7 Fifty men from the group of prophets also went and watched from a distance as Elijah and Elisha stopped beside the Jordan River. 8 Then Elijah folded his cloak together and struck the water with it. The river divided, and the two of them went across on dry ground!
9 When they came to the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken away.”
And Elisha replied, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit and become your successor.”
10 “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah replied. “If you see me when I am taken from you, then you will get your request. But if not, then you won’t.”
11 As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a chariot of fire appeared, drawn by horses of fire. It drove between the two men, separating them, and Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father! My father! I see the chariots and charioteers of Israel!” And as they disappeared from sight, Elisha tore his clothes in distress.
13 Elisha picked up Elijah’s cloak, which had fallen when he was taken up. Then Elisha returned to the bank of the Jordan River. 14 He struck the water with Elijah’s cloak and cried out, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” Then the river divided, and Elisha went across.
15 When the group of prophets from Jericho saw from a distance what happened, they exclaimed, “Elijah’s spirit rests upon Elisha!” And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. 16 “Sir,” they said, “just say the word and fifty of our strongest men will search the wilderness for your master. Perhaps the Spirit of the Lord has left him on some mountain or in some valley.”
“No,” Elisha said, “don’t send them.” 17 But they kept urging him until they shamed him into agreeing, and he finally said, “All right, send them.” So fifty men searched for three days but did not find Elijah. 18 Elisha was still at Jericho when they returned. “Didn’t I tell you not to go?” he asked.
Elisha’s First Miracles
19 One day the leaders of the town of Jericho visited Elisha. “We have a problem, my lord,” they told him. “This town is located in pleasant surroundings, as you can see. But the water is bad, and the land is unproductive.”
20 Elisha said, “Bring me a new bowl with salt in it.” So they brought it to him. 21 Then he went out to the spring that supplied the town with water and threw the salt into it. And he said, “This is what the Lord says: I have purified this water. It will no longer cause death or infertility.” 22 And the water has remained pure ever since, just as Elisha said.
23 Elisha left Jericho and went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, a group of boys from the town began mocking and making fun of him. “Go away, baldy!” they chanted. “Go away, baldy!” 24 Elisha turned around and looked at them, and he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of them. 25 From there Elisha went to Mount Carmel and finally returned to Samaria.2 Kings 2 NLT
Points to Ponder
- 3 times Elijah told Elisha to stay behind. Obviously, he was testing him. Each time, faithful, committed Elisha stuck with his mentor.
- Elisha asked for double the portion of Spirit power that Elijah had. Elijah’s power was of judgement. Elisha’s, we’ll see, is different.
- Elijah served God for 25 years. For 10 of those, Elisha was his apprentice. Elisha would go on to serve God for 50 years — double the time.
- Elijah performed 7 miracles. The last one was parting the Jordan River so they could cross it on dry ground. Elisha would go on to perform 14 miracles — double the amount. The first one being parting the Jordan like Elijah had.
- The “group of prophets” in the NKJV is translated “sons of prophets” or student prophets — prophets in training.
- Elijah doesn’t die. He’s taken up to Heaven by a Chariot of Fire. That’s a rapture! Actually, it’s the 2nd rapture. The first was Enoch way back in Genesis 5. “Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him.“(Genesis 5:23-24 NLT) Jesus is coming back for His Church — His Born-Again Believers — riding on the clouds — to rapture us to be with Him in Heaven.
- Elijah’s cloak — or mantel — represents the Spirit that is passed on to Elisha.
- Elisha uses salt to purify the water for the people of Jericho. Jesus tells us we are the salt of the earth. We Christians are to purify the world while we are here.
- The gang of youths who taunted Elisha, were bad dudes. Elisha cursed them and God sent the bears to maul them.
Faithful, Committed Follower
Elisha was a faithful and committed follower of God. He was focused on his mission. Satan loves to distract us and divert us from serving God. Think, too, about Peter and the 10 disciples who abandoned Jesus when He was arrested. It was only John who stood with Mary and the women at the cross.
How committed are you to serve God?
Are you fully committed, like Elisha? Or just when it suits you?
“The mantle did not fall from heaven and rest on Elisha’s shoulders — he had to decide to pick it up and put it on. Elijah’s ministry was one of great power, but it came with great pressure and responsibility.”David Guzik, Pastor and Bible Teacher
Focus on God’s Will for Your life. How can you determine what that is? Well, it’s starts with a personal relationship with Jesus.