Lord, I will submit to Your chosen leadership.
Read 2 KINGS 2:1–18
Elijah Taken Up to Heaven
2 When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to Bethel.”
But Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.
3 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?”
“Yes, I know,” Elisha replied, “so be quiet.”
4 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, Elisha; the Lord has sent me to Jericho.”
And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho.
5 The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?”
“Yes, I know,” he replied, “so be quiet.”
6 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.”
And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them walked on.
7 Fifty men from the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. 8 Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.
9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”
“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.
10 “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.”
11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 12 Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two.
13 Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “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.
15 The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, “The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha.” And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. 16 “Look,” they said, “we your servants have fifty able men. Let them go and look for your master. Perhaps the Spirit of the Lord has picked him up and set him down on some mountain or in some valley.”
“No,” Elisha replied, “do not send them.”
17 But they persisted until he was too embarrassed to refuse. So he said, “Send them.” And they sent fifty men, who searched for three days but did not find him. 18 When they returned to Elisha, who was staying in Jericho, he said to them, “Didn’t I tell you not to go?”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Praise God, who provides and enables godly leadership.
A change of leadership is often difficult, especially when a retiring leader has been respected and loved. For new leaders who replace experienced and well-established predecessors, the faithful may wonder: will they measure up? For people who receive a new leader, there is the tendency to compare, to doubt the new person’s abilities and lose respect too early.
In our reading, Elijah is about to leave the work to Elisha, who has been his servant since his great victory over the Baal priests (1 Kings 19:15,16,19–21). Elisha has big boots to fill, and we sense his anxiety as he sticks close to his master. The other prophets obviously share his perception and repeatedly tell him what he knows already: the Lord is going to take Elijah (3,5). Elisha needs enabling and reassurance. Asking for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit (9) is not a request to be twice as great as his master, however. Rather, Elisha needs to be legitimated as a true successor, like a firstborn son whose double share of the inheritance affirms that he is the true heir (Deut. 21:17; see T. R. Hobbs, 2 Kings, 21). Elijah’s answer is that his protégé’s request is formidable; but if Elisha sees his master depart (if God allows him to actually see this), that will affirm God’s approval (10). Elisha sees it (12).
Elisha is now God’s point man. While Elisha is watching Elijah taken up to heaven (12), the other prophets only know that he has disappeared (16). Just as Joshua followed Moses in parting the waters (Josh. 3:7–17; Exod. 14:21), so Elisha, following Elijah, parts the Jordan (8,14). God then legitimates his servant at every turn. Soon Elisha will even administer life and death (the latter as God’s curse on those who mock his instrument and thereby God himself) (2 Kings 2:19–25).
Pray for new leaders, that God’s spirit may do his enabling work in them, and for those they lead, that they may acknowledge and respect God’s choice.
Lord, grant to Your people the anointing that was on Your prophets of old, so that as they ministered in the supernatural, we may minister similarly.