ELIJAH the Tishbite
James 5:17-18 (NIV)
17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
James the brother of Jesus, said that Elijah was a man just like us. He was no more privileged than we could be if we would commit ourselves to God like he did.
I BELIEVE THAT WE COULD DO THINGS IN OUR DAY
THAT ARE AS AMAZING
AS THE THINGS THAT ELIJAH DID IN HIS DAY.
I. ELIJAH’S LIFE
a. There is too much in the Bible about Elijah for me to adequately cover all the things that Elijah did this morning.
b. The important thing is that Elijah’s life was tuned into God and he was radically obedient to whatever God told him to do.
c. We need to be Elijah’s to America today.
d. We need to speak God’s Words to the world we live in today.
II. ELIJAH’S LAST DAY. 2 Kings 2:1-14
IF YOU KNEW THAT TOMORROW WAS TO BE YOUR LAST DAY ON EARTH, WHAT WOULD YOU PLAN TO DO TOMORROW?
MAYBE THE FIRST THING SOME OF US WOULD DO IS
PRAY THE SINNERS PRAYER.
(It’s Better to live prayed up and ready)
MAYBE SOME OF WOULD GO VISIT FRIENDS AND RELATIVES TO SAY GOOD BYE.
WE MIGHT GO PRESENT THE GOSPEL TO SOME FRIENDS AND LOVED ONES THAT NEED TO GET RIGHT WITH THE LORD.
THERE MAY BE SOME PEOPLE AND PLACES THAT WE WOULD LIKE TO GO SEE ONE LAST TIME.
WE MAY HAVE SOMEONE THAT WE HAVE BEEN GROOMING TO TAKE OUR PLACE WHEN WE ARE GONE THAT WE WOULD LIKE TO GIVE SOME LAST MINUTE ADVICE TO.
WE MAY WANT TO TEST THIS PERSON AND SEE IF THEY’RE READY TO STEP UP TO THE PLATE.
WELL TODAY WE ARE GOING TO LOOK AT WHAT ELIJAH DID ON HIS LAST DAY ON EARTH.
2 Kings 2:1-14 (NIV)
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, “but do not speak of it.”
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, “but do not speak of it.”
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 of 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 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 own clothes and tore them apart.
13 He picked up the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 Then he took the cloak that had fallen from him 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.
WE HAVE JUST READ THE ACCOUNT OF ELIJAH’S LAST DAY ON EARTH.
WHAT HE DOES, WHERE HE GOES, AND WHAT HE SAYS ON THIS DAY IS CLOSELY TIED UP WITH HIS YOUNG APPRENTICE ELISHA.
ON THIS DAY ELIJAH GOES TO FOUR PLACES.
EACH PLACE HAS SPECIAL SIGNIFICANCE.
ON THIS DAY ELIJAH WAS PREPARING HIS APPRENTICE ELISHA.
ON THIS DAY ELIJAH WAS TESTING ELISHA
IN THE SAME WAY THAT ELISHA NEEDED
If we would know the blessing of God in our lives, there is a preparation that must be made. For Elisha, there were important places for him to visit. Places were God had moved in power through His servants, and the recall of those events would bring challenge to the heart of this aspiring prophet.
We can also learn from this account, and by applying the teaching to our lives, we can know something of God’s power today
THE FIRST PLACE THAT THEY VISITED WAS
GILGAL WAS A PLACE OF TESTIMONY (Joshua 4:19-20)
BACK IN JOSHUA 4:19 & 20 WE READ ABOUT A MONUMENT THAT WAS MADE OUT OF 12 STONES THAT HAD BEEN REMOVED FROM THE JORDAN RIVER WHEN THE ISRAELITES FIRST ENTERED THE PROMISED LAND.
GOD HAD DRIED UP THE JORDAN RIVER WHEN THE PRIESTS STEPPED INTO THE RIVER WITH THE ARK OF THE TESTIMONY.
GILGAL WAS A PLACE OR RECOMMITMENT (Joshua 5:9)
DURING THE 40 YEARS IN THE WILDERNESS THE ISRAELITES HAD NOT CIRCUMCISED THEIR CHILDREN AND THEY HAD BEEN TOLD TO DO.
SO HERE AT GILGAL THEY RECOMMITTED THEMSELVES TO GOD AND TO OBEYING ALL THAT HE HAD TOLD THEM TO DO.
GILGAL WAS A PLACE OF SANCTIFICATION
BEFORE WE CAN POSSESS GOD’S BLESSING THERE IS A NEED FOR US TO BE OBEDIENT. WE CAN’T EXPECT GOD TO BLESS US IF WE ARE DISOBEDIENT TO HIS WRITTEN WORD.
(Joshua 4:19-20) Gilgal was the place where 12 stones were removed from the bed of the Jordan River, after the Nation of Israel had crossed over into the land of Promise. These stones were erected as a monument of witness to the deliverance the Lord had brought about for the nation. What a testimony to God’s faithfulness. He had promised – He had performed – they possessed the land.
However, before the Israelites could go in and possess the land, the ‘reproach of Egypt’ had to rolled away, and there was a re-commitment to the circumcision required by the Lord, but neglected for so long by the nation.
THIS WAS A PLACE OF SANCTIFICATION - (Joshua 5:9)
It was here that a great challenge came to the nation. They had neglected to do what the Lord had told them. From the days of their ancestor Abraham they had been instructed to circumcise all male children, and over the years this had fallen into neglect. It may be that some of the present nation were not aware of the need for circumcision. There are times when Christians fail to obey the teaching of the Word of God simply because they have not been taught the truth. We are not speaking of circumcision here, but of the need to conform to God’s requirements. And to the need to make His requirements know! Before they could possess God’s blessing, there was a need for obedience. We cannot expect God to bless if we are disobedient to His Word.
When the children of Israel were circumcised they were able to go in and take possession of God’s promise.
The next place that Elisha has to visit is
THIS WAS A PLACE OF PERSONAL REVELATION
(Genesis 28:11-15) At this place the run-away Jacob received the vision of the stairway to heaven. He was literally on the run from home – afraid of what his brother Esau might do to him in repayment of the deceitful way Esau had been dealt with by Jacob. Tired, and feeling unable to go further, he makes a camp for the night, and as he drifts off to sleep, he sees a beautiful sight. A stairway rises from earth to heaven, and going up and down it are angels! Standing at the top of the stairway was the Lord who spoke to him. This was a new experience for Jacob. It was alright hearing about how God had spoken to his Grandfather Abraham, but now God was speaking to him! It is special when people have a personal experience with God! Here was the place of personal revelation, which became the place of personal promise. It is good to read, and listen to the wonderful testimonies of how God has met the need of other people, but we need God to be personal and real to us today! We need to hear God speaking to us now, to hear His promise – not for someone else, but for me!
THIS WAS A PLACE OF PERSONAL PROMISE
(Genesis 28:11-15) This was where God revealed Himself to Jacob, and made His Covenant Promise with him, even though God knew all about him, and the wrong things he had done. And as if that is not enough, God says, “I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.”
We all need to have a personal promise from God, as well as a personal revelation of who He is. This carried Jacob through the next years of difficult experiences, and brought him back home.
Many things happened to Jacob and his descendents on the way to the fulfilment of the original promise, and at this point in our looking at the scriptures we see Israel who have been journeying through the wilderness on the way to possessing the land of promise causing fear to rise in the hearts of the nations they passed amongst. One such nation was Moab, whose king, Balak, called for help to sort out his problem. He sought the help of Balaam! A strange figure! He appears to know God, and yet wants to do things his own way! Perhaps that sounds a bit familiar! Balaam is asked to curse the nation of Israel, and probably would have done so, except that God intervened. God had promised to bless them, so no one could curse them! How encouraging that thought can be!
The nation now came east of Jordan, so near to the possessing of the promise! It was just before they entered the Land of Promise that the problem arose! Enter Balaam!
I wonder what was going through the mind of Elisha at this point in time. I feel sure he would remember what God had done to bring the former slaves into the possession of this Land of promise, and plenty.
Before we move on, let us remember that Elisha is seeking a blessing from Elijah. We have seen how Balaam was asked to curse the nation, but God changed things and brought about a blessing. Will you be brave enough to ask yourself if you are a blessing to those living around you, as otherwise, if you are not bringing blessing, might you be the source of a curse?
Elisha now arrives at
THIS WAS A PLACE OF VISION
(Numbers 22:1) It was here, with the impending horror of the curse about to be placed on the nation that God steps in again. Balaam received a vision from the Lord, in which the Lord made it clear that Balaam was not to curse the people of Israel “for they have been blessed!” The result was that Israel received a blessing and not a curse. God is still able to give vision, if we will allow Him to do so. God can still use us to bless people. Balaam would have gone dreadfully wrong by himself, but God steps in! Even the most surprising places can be a place of vision and blessing!
THIS WAS A PLACE OF VICTORY
(Joshua 6:2) Here the nation of Israel appropriated the victory the Lord had brought about, and made it their own – by their obedience to God’s commands!
The victory came to Israel, not by their great strength, for they were quite weak; or by their mighty army, for they were not trained in warfare; but victory came when they were willing to do certain things;
To get their eyes off what they could see - the circumstances around them.
To hear God’s voice – not the clamour of war, as the enemy, who were a trained army, made their challenges.
To obey the Lord’s commands – commands that might seem strange.
The words of the Lord to Zerubbabel , found in Zechariah 4:6 are appropriate just here,
This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.
I realise that we are thinking about Elisha and the promised blessing he was looking for, but we can be so encouraged by those who have gone before us, and the same principles apply to them, to Elisha, and also to us!
THIS WAS A PLACE OF PREVAILING
(Genesis 32:10 & v24-32) It was at this place that Jacob wrestled with the angel, and prevailed, and as a result obtained power with God. His whole being was changed as a result of his meeting God, of his doing real business with God
32:28 And He said, Your name shall be called no more Jacob [supplanter], but Israel [contender with God]; for you have contended and have power with God and with men and have prevailed.
As a result of this he could now go on to face whatever lay before him, and as he did this he found that God had prepared the way for him!
THIS WAS A PLACE OF PERSEVERING
(Joshua 4) Elisha would be reminded of the crossing of Jordan, the entering of the land of promise, and the claiming of the promised possessions. There could be no turning back now for the nation – all the way with God – or, like the two and a half tribes who were content to dwell on the other side of Jordan, where they were not in God’s perfect will! Oh, they knew a measure of God’s blessing on their lives, but not all that the lord would have given to them – if only . . . .
Can you put yourself in the shoes of Elisha and revisit these places, thinking of how God moved on behalf of people who were so wayward. God has great patience with us also. I wonder if we are really in full receipt of all that God has for us?
Picking up our study from last week, we find Elisha faced with some challenging decisions to be made. The first challenge comes in verse 9, of II Kings chapter 2, where, in verse 9 we have
II A PRAYER TO BE OFFERED V.9
9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, "Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?"
Prayer is invited from Elisha after he had shown his determination.
All along the final journey with Elijah, he had been given the opportunity to change his direction. It certainly appears that he was being recognized as the successor to Elijah, by the prophets in the various places they visited, and he could have carried on in Elijah’s reflected glory! However, Elisha rejects the seeming opportunities of personal advancement, choosing to stay close to Elijah so that he would be able to claim the answer to his request! He knew that there was a higher level than that which he had already attained. He was very aware of it, and desired it! There are times when it is good to be dissatisfied! Dissatisfied with second best! Dissatisfied with anything less than the very best.
The opportunity before him is vast, but his request showed the real desire of his heart – to be used of God! Not for elevated position, or enlarged possessions, or personal esteem. Elijah’s had few earthly possessions, but he knew the power of God at work in his life. Elisha simply wanted more of God’s anointing, just as he had witnessed in action through Elijah!
Whether we accept it or not, our prayers do reveal what is in our hearts. Elisha prayed "Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit".
It is obvious from these words that Elisha wanted more of God, for he wanted what he had seen in Elijah, and he wanted more of it. The Lord’s disciples had come to the place where they wanted God in a real way, and were willing to recognize their need - the Lord said to them,
Acts 1:8 You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
These words of the Lord Jesus Christ to His followers are powerful and precious. The following words are amazing!
John 14:12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
Dare we pray for ‘a double portion of your spirit," ?
III A PROMISE TO BE CLAIMED V.10
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 not."
The response to his praying went beyond mere words; it needed action, - he needed to keep a constant watch on his Master! (yet if you see me). These words remind me of the scripture in Hebrews 12:2
Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God. [AMP].
To achieve God’s best in our lives we need to keep our eyes off the ways of the world, and determinedly fix them on the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us always remember that Bible promises are conditional! It is only as we fulfill the conditions, and as we continually look to the Lord that we will be changes into His likeness, and know His power in our lives. Paul’s words to the Corinthian Christians will help us just here,
II Corinthians 3:18 All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him. [Message]
It is good to look to the great men of God who can teach us many things, and to learn from them; but we should only look to them to have a clearer view of Jesus! If they distract us from the Lord, or cast a shadow over Him in any way, then we ought to stop looking at them!
The promise that Elisha was given could only be claimed if he saw Elijah at the end. Serving him, as he had done, and the lessons learned from him, would all be lost, if he misdirected his vision. We need to keep our vision clear, and correctly directed, without any distractions.
The challenge comes to us again, note the words of the Lord to the Blind Beggar;
Mark 10:51“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked. “Master,” the blind man said, “I want to see!” What would our response be to such a question? Right now, what would you ask the Lord to do for you? Is it for the Lord and His kingdom, or for yourself and your kingdom?
IV A POSSESSION OF THE ANSWER V.14-15
His perseverance brought its reward, he received the answer to his prayer! But he does not just sit back – he uses what he has been given – and does this immediately! He demonstrated the power of God by parting the waters of Jordan, just as Elijah had done!
14 Then he took the cloak that had fallen from him 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.
He had come to:
A PLACE OF COMMITMENT
And he rightly decided to be used by God. He did not intend living on memories of the past, or living in the shade of someone else’s blessings and power. He made a public commitment by acting in faith, and so realised the power of God in his life. He could have said ‘what if it doesn’t happen, then I’ll look a fool’. But he puts action to his faith. Some people step on the water like Peter, others part the water like Elisha. This is where commitment is proven - do we talk, or do we walk? True commitment is active.
For Elisha, this spot became
A PLACE OF CONSECRATION
He determines to prove God for himself, and not rest on having worked with Elijah. He goes on to do amazing things for God, and immediately makes bitter waters sweet! In this one action he brings blessing to a whole city! It is easy to live with bitter waters, and let them affect our lives – Elisha changed things for the better! The best thing to do with bitterness is to change it. It appears from reading on in the chapter, that the bitter spring had caused death. It needed to by transformed. It takes God’s man to know God’s mind, and bring blessing where there had been a curse. You will have heard the saying, ‘if life hands you a lemon, make lemonade’. Use every opportunity given to you.
If we are willing to follow Elisha’s example in the steps he took to receive his ‘Double Portion’, we can also receive a ‘double Portion’ of God’s blessing. We can also be used to bring sweetness into numerous bitter lives, and do many mighty things for the Lord. It is interesting to observe that Elisha actually did twice as many miracles as Elijah - so he did receive a double-portion.
The chariot of fire and horses of fire and the whirlwind
Some times are Critical times
ELIJAH. 1. The Tishbite, a Gileadite and prophet, called Elias in the authorized version of the N.T. Persecuted by Ahab, 1 Kin. 17:2–7; 18:7–10. Escapes to the wilderness, where he is miraculously fed by ravens, 1 Kin. 17:1–7. By divine direction goes to Zarephath, where he is sustained in the household of a widow, whose meal and oil are miraculously increased, 1 Kin. 17:8–16. Returns, and sends a message to Ahab, 1 Kin. 18:1–16. Meets Ahab and directs him to assemble the prophets of Baal, 1 Kin. 18:17–20. Derisively challenges the priests of Baal to offer sacrifices, 1 Kin. 18:25–29. Slays the prophets of Baal, 1 Kin. 18:40. Escapes to the wilderness from the fierceness of Jezebel, 1 Kin. 19:1–18. Fasts forty days, 1 Kin. 19:8. Despondency and complaining of, 1 Kin. 19:10, 14. Consolation given to, 1 Kin. 19:11–18. Flees to the wilderness of Damascus; directed to anoint Hazael king over Syria, Jehu king over Israel, and Elisha to be a prophet in his own stead, 1 Kin. 19:9–21. Personal aspect of, 2 Kin. 1:8. Piety of, 1 Kin. 19:10, 14; Luke 1:17; Rom. 11:2; Jas. 5:17. His translation, 2 Kin. 2:11. Appears to Jesus at his transfiguration, Matt. 17:3, 4; Mark 9:4; Luke 9:30. Ante-type of John the Baptist, Matt. 11:14; 16:14; 17:10–12; Mark 9:12, 13; Luke 1:17; John 1:21–25.
Miracles of: Increases the oil of the widow of Zarephath, 1 Kin. 17:14–16. Raises from the dead the son of the woman of Zarephath, 1 Kin. 17:17–24. Causes rain after a drought of three and a half years, 1 Kin. 18:41–45; Jas. 5:17, 18. Causes fire to consume the sacrifice, 1 Kin. 18:24, 36–38. Calls fire down upon the soldiers of Ahaziah, 2 Kin. 1:10–12; Luke 9:54.
Prophecies of: Foretells a drought, 1 Kin. 17:3; the destruction of Ahab and his house, 1 Kin. 21:17–29; 2 Kin. 9:25–37; the death of Ahaziah, 2 Kin. 1:2–17; the plague sent as a judgment upon the people in the time of Jehoram, king of Israel, 2 Chr. 21:12–15. 2. Called also Eliah. A Benjamite chief, 1 Chr. 8:27. 3. A post-exile Jew, Ezra 10:21.
But unfortunately, loss is part of life. Hardships are part of life. Death is part of life. Sin is part of life. And no-one, not even a Christian, is immune to it all. I think of the story I read of a group of British tourists, vacationing in Arizona, who spot a cowboy by the side of the road with his ear to the ground. "What’s going on?" they asked him.
"Two horses, one grey and one chestnut, are pulling a wagon carrying 2 men," the cowboy says. "One man is wearing a red shirt and the other a black shirt. And they’re heading east."
"Wow, you can tell all that just by listening to the ground?" says one of the tourists.
"No" replies the cowboy. "They just ran over me."
Poor guy. But we all have been run over by circumstances of life. And Elisha was facing a similar thing. He was about to lose his mentor, his best friend, and he was not looking forward to it.
Swanson, J., & Nave, O. (1994). New Nave's. Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems.