Relationships –Elijah and Elisha

When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”
So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”
“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”
So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.

  • 1 Kings 19:13-21

“A man came to meet us,” they replied. “And he said to us, ‘Go back to the king who sent you and tell him, “This is what the Lord says: Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending messengers to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!”’”
The king asked them, “What kind of man was it who came to meet you and told you this?”
They replied, “He had a garment of hair and had a leather belt around his waist.”
The king said, “That was Elijah the Tishbite.”
Then he sent to Elijah a captain with his company of fifty men. The captain went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, “Man of God, the king says, ‘Come down!’”
Elijah answered the captain, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!” Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men.

  • 2 Kings 1:6-10

When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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. 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.
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.
“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.”
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. 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.
Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 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.
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. “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.”
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. When they returned to Elisha, who was staying in Jericho, he said to them, “Didn’t I tell you not to go?”

  • 2 Kings 2:1-18

A Quote

[2 Kings 2:9] In Israel, the firstborn son inherited a double share of his father’s possessions and with it the right of succession (Deut. 21:17). ‘A double portion of your spirit’ was not merely Elisha’s request to succeed Elijah in his prophetic ministry, since the Lord had already revealed this succession in 1 Kings 19:16-21. Nor was it Elisha’s desire for ministry superior to Elijah’s, though Elisha did, in fact, do twice as many recorded miracles as Elijah. Apparently, Elisha was asking to succeed Elijah in the prophetic office, as God had promised, with spiritual power beyond his own capabilities to meet the responsibilities of his position as Elijah’s successor. He desired that Elijah’s mighty power might continue to live through him.”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary

What Do We Know about their Relationship?

While last week’s discussion of the relationship of Elijah and Jezebel was one of the lack there of, Elijah and Elisha’s relationship was brief, but extremely powerful.

Elisha is plowing the fields prior to Elijah giving him the call.  Elisha was not a lone farmer.  His was the twelfth team of oxen plowing the field.  Why Elisha?  God told Elijah exactly who to call.

Elisha is not mentioned until Elijah asks him to stay behind, and Elisha would not leave his side.

What Can We Infer about their Relationship?

We might infer that Elisha was with Elijah at every moment between being called and Elijah going up into heaven.  He wanted to be there when something interesting happened.  The story in 2 Kings 2 above tells of one group of fifty soldiers, but there were two more groups of soldiers.  Elijah got word that he should go with the last group to King Ahaziah.  He would be safe.  So, when Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, he knew the power of that spirit.  He had seen it at work, although the confrontation on Mount Carmel was before that time, and prophesying a drought and being fed by ravens was even longer ago.

In What Ways Can We Fill in the Gaps about their Relationship?

Elijah, in 2 Kings 2, does not seem to telegraph where he is going, but Elisha is adamant in not leaving Elijah’s side.  It seems obvious that Elijah had been told by God that it was the right time to leave this earth, but I do not think it a far leap in gap filling to state that Elisha had been given some inkling of an idea as well.  Note when the disciples were told to stay here and Jesus was walking over there to pray, the disciples did not cling to Him, even after Jesus said that He would be betrayed.  Yet, Elisha even tried to go with Elijah in the whirlwind.  It took the chariot of fire between Elijah and Elisha to separate them.

And Rev. MacArthur gives a great idea in why Elisha asked for a double portion.  He was not being greedy, but a double portion would be significant of the heir of Elijah, at least in the context of Elijah’s spirit-filled prophetic works.

And another gap filling might be that they crossed the Jordan River at the same spot where the Israelites had crossed before taking the town of Jericho.  Did they find the pile of stones left in the river?

What Can We Learn from this Relationship?

I do not know about you, but every time I get distracted, and my eyes no longer look at Jesus, I begin to get weak.  I know from whom my strength lies.  My strength is from Jesus.  Elisha knew that if he was not going to be near Elijah, he needed a double portion of the spirit of Elijah, which we know post-Pentecost, is the Holy Spirit indwelling us.

I feel God’s strength within me, but I have not brought anyone back from the dead.  I have had laundry detergent last a lot longer than I ever imagined, but nothing like the oil that multiplied for both Elijah and Elisha.  But some days, what I write seems to be an out-of-body experience and when I read it back to myself, I have often asked, “Where did that come from?”  I am not writing a God-breathed epistle, but God has His touch on it at times.

With Jesus in our hearts, the Holy Spirit is there too, now that it is post-Pentecost.  The power of God will manifest itself in many ways.  Rather than shrinking from the responsibility, let us embrace it, asking for a double portion.

What Have We Learned thus far?

We have learned to:

  • Own our own mistakes and not blame others.
  • Be faithful to God, and worship properly, in the proper spirit.
  • Go to God in prayer, especially before any major decisions.
  • Do not show favoritism among family members, but always go to God.
  • Forgiveness is extremely important for none of us are perfect except for God.
  • Beyond physical love, there are other expressions of love, and respect is very important.
  • A relationship requires maintenance, nurturing, and an acceptance of the roles.
  • Be humble and listen to wise advice, and even wait when necessary.
  • At times, we must be bold and trust God, and we must obey.
  • And to love, love, and love.
  • Be trustworthy.  Trust is required.
  • And don’t worry.  God has this situation, and He has us in the palm of His hand.
  • And remember to forgive others and confess our sins.
  • And never go against what God instructs us to do.
  • And truly believe that God can show you mercy and accept the mercy offered.  Yet remember that it is indeed mercy.
  • Not blindly trust our buddies from our youth as advisors and there may be emotional ties that make their advice sound better than it is.
  • Understand that good cannot compromise with evil.

A Closing Prayer

Lord,
We look to You for guidance.  When we are near You, we feel strong, safe, at peace, and content.  Why then do we avert our gaze and get impure thoughts, or we do something we should not?  Strengthen that bond between us.  Help us to desire more and more of You each day.  Help us to grow stronger.
In Thy Name we pray,
Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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