Imagine Elijah bending down, and removing his head or shoulder covering. Imagine him trembling for a moment as he knows as soon as he’s on the other side, he will see God. And then imagine all the floods of memories of when God used the miracle of river crossings to deliver His people.
Exodus 14: Moses’ job is to the lead the people out of Egypt. They start walking with the millions of slaves who are tasting freedom for the first time, and they arrive at the Red Sea. God tells Moses to reach out his staff and Moses obeys. The Israelites all pass through on dry ground. And then Pharaoh’s army is swallowed by the sea. God delivered His people. He made good on His promise, and started them on a journey of promise that continues even thousands of years later.
Joshua 3: Joshua leads God’s people to the Jordan. They are tasked with securing the Ark of the Covenant, where God dwelt, in the land on the other side of the Jordan. They stood at the edge of the water and with great faith the priests dipped their feet in the water like they were just going to walk right across. In another massive miracle, the waters parted and they crossed over on dry land with the Ark of the Covenant and the people of God.
2 Kings 2:8: And now we get to our prophet. Elijah is about to meet God. He’s standing where Joshua stood with the priests while they held in their hands the place where God dwelt. And Elijah knows he too is about to stand before God. He bows down before the Jordan, drops his mantle and folds it, and the waters part for he and Elisha. They cross over alone to the other side.
When Elijah and Elisha cross over the Jordan, Elijah turns to Elisha to ask what Elisha might need that Elijah would have to offer. Elisha wants Elijah’s spirit. He asks for a double portion of it, in fact. Elisha knew this work was not for the faint of heart, there would be opposition at every turn. He had been watching Elijah’s life, and wanted the same spirit within him that Elijah had in order to bear the load. Elisha wasn’t asking for the big “S” Spirit [That is only God’s to give.] Instead he was asking for the wherewithal to stand under the pressures and struggles that he would be enduring.
He [like Solomon] avoids the wealth, health, long life, and prosperity requests that are more associated with a genie in a bottle than with the God of the universe. Instead, both of these men, when offered the world, asked for an increase in character.
Elisha has fought Elijah to remain with him through the day. Elijah tried to get Elisha to turn from him all day long, but Elisha stuck with him at every stop. At this point, Elijah tells Elisha that if he remains a little longer, if he watches Elijah’s entrance into heaven, he would be granted a double portion of his spirit.
These two men have had an eventful day. Three cities, 25 miles of walking, a parting of the Jordan, and now they’re having a serious discussion of character, when horses and a chariot on fire appear before them.
Imagine this with me. It’s almost more than my brain can wrap itself around. The burning bush that Moses fell before is one thing, a flaming chariot and horses on fire is another.
Scripture says Elijah is taken in a whirlwind into heaven and Elisha watches every second of it, then calls out, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” Would there be other words than this? All Elisha could speak was the exact truth of what he was seeing.
Elisha does not waste a single second. He takes action immediately. He tore his clothes in 2 pieces. He’s just lost his friend, confidant, and counselor. Elijah is now gone, and he carries the weight of prophecy on his own shoulders. He takes this moment to grieve. And then he gets busy.
And now another parting of the waters. When Elijah went to God, he folded his mantle on the ground. Elisha gathers up the mantle and goes straight to the edge of the water of the Jordan. He’s “testing the waters” so to speak. He asks, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah,” and strikes the waters. And the waters part. He’s seen a lot in a short amount of time. He’s seen the waters part for Elijah, he’s seen a chariot and horses on fire take Elijah to heaven in a whirlwind, he’s lost his best friend, he’s gained his spirit, and now he himself, has struck the waters of the Jordan and God has caused them to part. This is Elisha’s first recorded miracle. What an inauguration!
When Elisha goes back through Jericho, the people of God can immediately tell that Elijah’s spirit rests on Elisha, just as Elijah had promised. And Elisha begins a life of miracles, prophecy, and sharing the words of God.
When faced with the challenge of the next chapter of life, what is it that you want to be written?
Elijah’s story is not finished. We have a few more appearances from him. His legacy is legendary. He’s respected and feared. He’s the prophet who did not see death. Elijah never wavered in his devotion, fearful or courageous, he is known as a man and prophet who walked with God.
What characteristics define your life?
What characteristics do you WANT to define your life?