12(2Kings 02,01-15) Passing the Mantle
Elisha: Passing the Mantle - II Kings 2
Elijah was the fiery type. He is the one, who on the mount of Carmel, confronted the prophets of Baal and called down the fire of God upon the sacrifice. He was the one that was filled with lightning. He was the one who could call down fire or rain, which ever was needed.
On the other hand, his young successor, Elisha, seems to be more of the gentle spirited kind. God uses different personalities. God uses different kinds of servants in different ways and at particular times.
The transition is going to be made. God is going to call young Elisha to carry on the ministry which Elijah had begun.
Here was Elisha out in the field working. He was a busy man. He was involved in something when the call of God came upon his life. The ministry is no place for lazy people. It's hard work serving the Lord.
You would do well sometime to study the Bible accounts of how people were called into the service of the Lord. No two seem to be the same. There is no pattern necessarily. Sometimes God calls in circumstances. Sometimes God uses people to call you into God's work. Sometimes God just builds a great desire and interest in your heart to do a particular ministry.
Here is Elisha and the mantle is cast upon him. He leaves and sells out, burns his bridges behind him and becomes a young protégé of the prophet Elijah.
Turn back to II Kings chapter 3. I want to share verse 11 and see what Elisha did for a period of years. Remember God has called him. He is going to have a ministry of his own. But for a period of time he is going to be under the mentorship of Elijah, the older man. In the last part of verse 11 it says, "Here is Elisha, the son of Shaphat, which poured water on the hands of Elijah." He poured water. He ministered to the older man, Elijah.
What you have there is a beautiful picture of cooperation in ministry. The older man, Elijah and the younger man Elisha. There is no evidence here of a generation gap. There is no old versus the young. They are working in tandem. They are working together. You see no indication here of a personality clash. They are obviously very different in personality. As you study the life of Elijah and Elisha you will see that the two men are very different in personality. Yet in the service of the Lord, they work together. They work in cooperation and partnership.
You will find some beautiful partnerships in the Bible. I think about David and Jonathan. What a great partnership that was. Or you go in the New Testament and you find Paul and Barnabas. What a great partnership that was. What you have here is something similar in Elisha and Elijah.
We are coming to the time when Elijah is going to be carried to heaven. It seems to me that on this last day of Elijah's life that memories begin to well up in his heart. It seems these precious memories begin to flow through his heart.
Memories are important. Memories can be very special and they can be very helpful and very meaningful to you. Many times in the Bible, the Bible says, "Forget not." We are not to forget the past. We are not to lose those memories. Sometimes, if you will study the book of Deuteronomy, about 14 times in that book it says, remember. It is important to remember. We are going to see a series of places where Elijah and Elisha will go and there are going to be some memories.
I. I. Remembering God's Power.
Elijah is going to take the young man Elisha to some specific places and he is somehow remembering God's power. These were places where God had demonstrated His power. We need to do that. We need to remember the past.
Someone has said that the past is not intended to be an anchor to hold us back, but rather a rudder to guide us. The past is not to be a parking lot where we stay, but it is to be a launching pad that will thrust us into the future.
I want you to notice the specific place mentioned in this chapter where Elijah takes Elisha. In Verse 1 they go to Gilgal. In Verse 2 they go to Bethel. In Verse 4 they go to Jericho. In verse 6 they go to Jordan. Keep in mind, shortly, Elijah is going to heaven. In fact, verse 1 tells us exactly how he is going to heaven. It says the Lord is going to take Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind. That means Elijah is going to heaven without dying.
There is one other man in the Bible who went to heaven without dying and that was Enoch in Genesis 5. The Bible says, "Enoch walked with God and he was not, for God took him." He went to heaven without dying. Elijah is going to go to heaven in a storm, in a whirlwind. He's not going to die either. Those two Old Testament experiences are pictures to us of the rapture. What God did for Enoch and Elijah in the Old Testament, God is going to do for the whole generation of believers one of these days. Would to God that ours would be the generation. Wouldn't it be great if we would get raptured instead of resurrected? It may be that if you and I are the generation before the Lord comes, it may be that we will be raptured.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
But it may be resurrection. Either way the Bible says we ought to be living, looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here's a man getting ready to get raptured. He has passed the mantle of ministry to the young man Elisha and he is going to take him on a little journey down memory lane and show him some of the places where God exhibited His power.
Gilgal is the place of beginning. It was at Gilgal, when the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River, they camped. That was their first campground. It was the place of beginning as they went into the Promised Land. We ought to remember that place of beginning.
Do you remember your place of beginning? Do you remember where you met the Lord? Where were you when you met the Lord? I met the Lord in a church up in a county seat town in Georgia. I was a nine year old boy. It was in a church called Tabernacle Baptist Church. All you have to do is mention that name and it takes me back to my beginning.
Maybe your place of beginning was a little country church. That place where you first began to walk with the Lord and to know the Lord. we ought never forget that. We ought never get over that place where we first began to know Jesus as our Savior.
In verse 2 Elijah says to Elisha, "I'm going to Bethel, you stay here. You just tarry right here." Elisha refuses to do it. He says, "As the Lord lives and your soul lives, I will not leave thee." He knows this is the last day for Elijah. They are close. They love one another.
When someone you love is dying, it's a painful experience. You cherish every moment of time, every opportunity to be with that person. Basically Elisha wouldn't leave Elijah. It's kind of like these defensive backs covering a receiver. When they really get to them they have a term they use. The DBs say that they get in his shirt. They cover them so close they get in his shirt. That's what Elisha is doing with Elijah. He's in his shirt. He's sticking with him. He's not going to miss anything.
They go from Gilgal, the place of beginning, down to Bethel in verse 2. what do we learn there about God's power? Bethel is the place of returning. It was at Bethel where Jacob had an experience with God and he called it the house of God. Down through the years of Jacob's life, as Jacob wandered away from the Lord, the Lord spoke to him and said, "Jacob, arise and go back to Bethel." Bethel is the place of returning.
Are you here tonight and you need to come back to Bethel? You need to return to the Lord. come back to that place of close fellowship with the Lord. that place where you are in the Word. That place where you are praying. That place where you are walking with the Lord.
In verse 3 the sons of the prophets come into the narrative. These were preacher boys. It seems that Samuel established a series of preachers' schools for these sons of the prophets. They are young aspiring preachers. They were trained there.
There are the sons of the prophets and they seem to have a little inside information. When a young preacher learns something he thinks nobody else knows, he wants to show it off. They said to Elisha, "Do you know Elijah is going to heaven today?" Elisha says, "I know. Hold your peace." There are some moments that are just too sacred to speak.
They move from there in verse 4 to Jericho. Elisha is right there with him. What do you learn in Jericho about God's power? Jericho is the place of overcoming. It was Jericho where God gave the children of Israel a great victory. As they learned to obey God's word and in obedience to God's word they walked around the walls of Jericho and at the right moment, on that seventh day, they blew their trumpets and the walls of Jericho came tumbling down. You learn there how to overcome.
You need to learn God's power to overcome in the battles of life. Your Jericho can be conquered also.
Now the sons of the prophets come and basically the same thing. In verse 6 they go to the Jordan River. The Jordan River was the place of entering. God parted the Jordan River to let the children of Israel enter into the Promised Land. We must remember that God can part the waters for us.
Let's don't forget the Jordan River experiences. Has God parted the water in your life. Have there been those experiences in your family life when you have seemingly insurmountable problems and God just parted the waters? I've seen God part the waters in our church. I've seen God work miracles in our church.
Oh, what a picture that day! Here's Elijah. It's his last day on the earth, but he's taking this young preacher and showing him God's power. He's remembering God's power. What would you be doing if you knew it was your last day on the earth? Would you be busy doing something for the Lord? God is getting ready. The mantle of ministry is going to be passed.
II. Requesting God's Power.
Read verses 7 and following. What is Elisha asking for here? He is asking for God to give him the power to perform his ministry. He recognizes that he has to have God's power. He has to receive God's power and he is recognizing that Elijah was mightily used of God, a man of great power. He says. "I want a double portion of that power on my life. I want the same power you had in your ministry, in my ministry."
I have a good word for you. the Bible tells us that we do not have to serve the Lord in our own power and in our own strength. The Bible tells us that God will give us His Holy Spirit. When Jesus went into the wilderness temptation, the Bible says that He went in the power of the Spirit. When He returned from that experienced, He returned in the fullness of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says you and I can be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Bible says not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord. Philippians 1, verse 19 talks about the supply of the Spirit. You can have as much of the power of God as you are willing to claim from God to do your work for the Lord. Every Bible teacher needs to pray for a double portion of God's spirit. Every time I walk in this pulpit, I pray for the Spirit of God to come upon me. All is in vain unless the Spirit of the holy one comes down. We cannot operate in our own strength. We need the power of God. What a desire. A double portion!
Elijah says in verse 10, "That's a hard thing you have asked nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee, but if not, it shall not be so."
Verse 11 says, "Behold there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven." He went out just like he ministered. He went out in a blaze of glory. All of a sudden, chariots of fire. Wind blowing everywhere. He was gone!
That's the way it's going to be when you and I leave. The rapture or the resurrection, either way, it's not going to matter. We are going out of here.
Elijah took off. That was a trip. Can you imagine that?
Elisha looks up and sees Elijah going up and verse 12 says, "And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof." That's a military term. He is basically saying, "Elijah, you are more valuable to God's people than military armies."
I think about the true strength of our nation. I've been reading and listening about the awesome military power of America. We have redefined what military conflict is in the world today with our smart bombs and our astonishing technology. We are indeed the most mighty, the most powerful nation militarily on the earth. But I have news for you. That's not the source of America's strength. The source of America's strength is the people of God who love Jesus and know how to pray. There is more power in praying people than in all of the smart bombs in the arsenals of our nation.
He is saying, "There goes one of the sources of our strength, the chariots of Israel and the horsemen thereof." That same thing is going to be said about Elisha when he dies.
In verse 13 we move to,
III. Receiving God's Power.
Elisha takes up the mantel that fell on him. The mantel has been passed. He's God's man and he goes back and stands before that bank of Jordan and takes off that mantle in verse 14 and he smites the waters. "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" Elijah is gone, but Elijah's God is not gone. The saints of God move on. The men of God move on. God love them and we thank God for them and we praise their ministry and the way God used them. But God's people go on, but God is still here. God is still alive. God is still in the miracle working business.
Elisha begins to do miracles. He DID get a double portion. He ministered twice as long as Elijah did. He performed twice as many miracles as Elijah did. He got his double portion.
There are three miracles right here. One is the miracle of the parting of the Jordan. In verse 15 the sons of the prophets see that. They say in verse 15, "The spirit of Elijah does rest on Elisha." They recognize he is the new spiritual leader. They see God's power on him.
What is the great evidence of God in the life of a person in ministry? In Matthew 7, verse 20 Jesus said, "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." What are the fruits of the ministry?