Series: Thru the Bible
Message – Elijah’s Mantle, Elisha’s Anointing
***Video is HERE***
Elijah’s Mantle, Elisha’s Anointing
Scriptures covered: 2Kings 2-3
“(1) The time had come for the LORD to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elijah and Elisha were traveling from Gilgal, (2) and Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the LORD is sending me on to Bethel.”
But Elisha replied, “As the LORD lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.”
So they went down to Bethel.
(3) Then the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha and said, “Do you know that today the LORD will take your master away from you?” He said, “Yes, I know. Be quiet.”
“(4) Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here; the LORD is sending me to Jericho.”
But Elisha said, “As the LORD lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho.
(5) Then the sons of the prophets who were in Jericho came up to Elisha and said, “Do you know that today the LORD will take your master away from you?” He said, “Yes, I know. Be quiet.”
(6) Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the LORD is sending me to the Jordan.”
But Elisha said, “As the LORD lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on.
(7) Fifty men from the sons of the prophets came and stood facing them from a distance while the two of them stood by the Jordan. (8) Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up, and struck the waters, which parted to the right and left. Then the two of them crossed over on dry ground. (9) After they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken from you.”
So Elisha answered, “Please, let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.”
(10) Elijah replied, “You have asked for something difficult. If you see me being taken from you, you will have it. If not, you won’t.”
(11) As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire with horses of fire suddenly appeared and separated the two of them. Then Elijah went up into heaven in the whirlwind. (12) As Elisha watched, he kept crying out, “My father, my father, the chariots and horsemen of Israel!” Then he never saw Elijah again.
He took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces.
(13) Elisha picked up the mantle that had fallen off Elijah and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. (14) Then he took the mantle Elijah had dropped and struck the waters. “Where is the LORD God of Elijah?” he asked. He struck the waters himself, and they parted to the right and the left, and Elisha crossed over.
(15) When the sons of the prophets from Jericho, who were facing him, saw him, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” They came to meet him and bowed down to the ground in front of him.
(16) Then the sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “Since there are 50 strong men here with your servants, please let them go and search for your master. Maybe the Spirit of the LORD has carried him away and put him on one of the mountains or into one of the valleys.”
He answered, “Don’t send them.”
(17) However, they urged him to the point of embarrassment, so he said, “Send them.” They sent 50 men, who looked for three days but did not find him. (18) When they returned to him in Jericho where he was staying, he said to them, “Didn’t I tell you not to go?”
(19) Then the men of the city said to Elisha, “Even though our lord can see that the city’s location is good, the water is bad and the land unfruitful.”
(20) He replied, “Bring me a new bowl and put salt in it.” After they had brought him one, (21) Elisha went out to the spring of water, threw salt in it, and said, “This is what the LORD says: ‘I have healed this water. No longer will death or unfruitfulness result from it.'”
(22) Therefore, the water remains healthy to this very day according to the word that Elisha spoke.
(23) From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking up the path, some small boys came out of the city and harassed him, chanting, “Go up, baldy! Go up, baldy!” (24) He turned around, looked at them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. Then two female bears came out of the woods and mauled 42 of the youths. (25) From there Elisha went to Mount Carmel, and then he returned to Samaria.”
Now this is a fantastic story. While much significance has been drawn out of these verses I do not know how much to say. I can contemplate meanings and significance but feel anything I say would be mere speculation and not fact.
However, the one thing which seems well established in scripture is the need for mentoring even in spiritual callings and gifts. Here Elijah is to Elisha what Jesus was to His disciples. In mentoring a spiritual walk of hearing God, seeking His face and responding to His inward leading Elijah was not only passing on the wisdom he had accumulated in his spiritual journey but was also preparing Elisha for not only his future, but for quite literally taking Elijah’s place.
Now, it has been suggested that anointings can be transferred from one person to another. Perhaps this is true, but I feel this passage alone offers little in the way of proof that it is a fact which may be counted on every time.
That Elijah seemed to encourage Elisha to stay behind has been seen in various lights as well and indeed it does seem counterintuitive. I believe, as do many, that Elijah was being led by the Lord to encourage Elisha with external man made commands to test if he would follow his inward witness or external promptings. This may have been a bit of a test to prove him worthy of the double portion of the spirit that was upon Elijah. Also, it is possible that was to serve as a lesson as well. When the inward witness of the spirit and the external voice of a trusted teacher and mentor are in conflict one needs to favor the inward witness of the Spirit above the words of man.
That the locations that these two prophets traveled may have significance seems likely, but again we are left with uncertainty as to what they may have meant.
The history and meaning of the places themselves as relating to Israel is clear enough and that may offer some insights.
They began their journey in Gilgal and went to Bethel – a distance of about 13.5 miles.
Gilgal = separation
“Then the LORD said to Joshua, ‘Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’ So the place has been called Gilgal to this day.”
Bethel – House of God
“When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, ‘ Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it .’ He was afraid and said, ‘ How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God ; this is the gate of heaven.’ Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.’”
From Bethel they traveled to Jericho which is about 15 miles.
Jericho = Encounter with God – Victory through the obedience of faith?
It was the first place Israel conquered in the Promised land and was therefore significant of God’s faithfulness and Israel’s trust.
From Jericho they traveled to the Jordan which is about 5 miles
The Jordan – If Israel was baptised into Moses in the Red Sea then they were baptised into Joshua at the Jordan. Joshua means “God IS salvation”. It was the river God parted before Israel in order to enter the promised land – and as such is very symbolic of being baptised into Christ Jesus. It is there that they gathered 12 large stones, representing the tribes of Israel and set up as a memorial of God’s faithfulness.
It was here, many years later, that John the Baptist exercised his ministry of baptising for a change of heart (repentance) leading to the introduction of Israel to their promised Messiah.
Taken all together this trek took them from a place of sanctification (separation unto God) to the house of God and from the house of God to an encounter with God and from an encounter with God to being baptised into Him.
Theologically this is not inconsistent with Israel’s spiritual journey towards salvation, but again I would be careful in placing too much significance in it – NOT because I believe there isn’t any, but because our interpretation of it is subjective and fragmentary.
The search for significance in these locations is likely common since I think people stumble over the encounters of Elisha with the prophets of Bethel and Jericho both said Elijah would be taken away from him “today”. Many have claimed that such would be impossible since the journey itself would have taken longer than this – to which I have two responses.
1st – while the overall distance from their starting point in Gilgal to Bethel, then Jericho and finally to the Jordan is a total of approximately 33.5 miles and the average “days journey”, of that time was 20 miles – that entire distance was not said to have happened in one day.
They traveled from Gilgal to Bethel before the first report of Elijah being taken was mentioned. That means of the 33.5 miles they collectively traveled, 13.5 had already been traversed, leaving exactly 2o miles to be covered from the time the prophets spoke to them to the time Elijah was to be taken.
We are not told if the prophets came to them as soon as they arrived in Bethel, just that before they left Bethel they had made that announcement. It is also important to remember that to Jewish people, a day began at nightfall. So even if these prophets told them when they arrived in town the first evening, it would have been a projection of the next 24 hours during while it is certainly possible to have traveled the 20 miles from Bethel to Jericho and from there to the Jordan river.
This however is not necessary either which leads to the second thing I offer as answer to this objections.
2nd – The word “today” used by the prophets is the word Yom, which simply denotes a period of time which is not specifically defined unless the context provides limits. Like in Genesis, the word Yom is used of the days of creation which are defined by the 24hour cycle of sunset to sunset. “And the evening and the morning were the ____ day (yom)” So the prophets may have simply meant, do you realize that the Lord is going to take your master soon or before the next Sabbath or any other number of time frames. As we have seen however, which of these two are correct does not matter since both are completely possible.
We will begin next week with Joram, son of Ahab beginning his reign over Israel in his brother Ahaziah’s place.
“(1) Joram son of Ahab became king over Israel in Samaria during the eighteenth year of Judah’s King Jehoshaphat; he reigned 12 years. (2) He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, but not like his father and mother, for he removed the sacred pillar of Baal his father had made.”
“(3) Nevertheless, Joram clung to the sins that Jeroboam son of Nebat had caused Israel to commit. He did not turn away from them.”
Jeroboam had set up calves, like the one set up by Aaron in the wilderness, for Israel to have a physical image to worship rather than the true and invisible God of Israel. This is the sin that Joram continued in.
2Chron. 11:13-23, “(13) And from all their territories [Benjamin & Judah] the priests and the Levites who were in all Israel took their stand with him [Rehoboam]. (14) For the Levites left their common-lands and their possessions and came to Judah and Jerusalem, for Jeroboam and his sons had rejected them from serving as priests to the LORD.
(15) Then he appointed for himself priests for the high places, for the demons, and the calf idols which he had made.”
“(4) King Mesha of Moab was a sheep breeder. He used to pay the king of Israel 100,000 lambs and the wool of 100,000 rams, (5) but when Ahab died, the king of Moab rebelled against the king of Israel. (6) So King Joram marched out from Samaria at that time and mobilized all Israel. (7) Then he sent a message to King Jehoshaphat of Judah:
“The king of Moab has rebelled against me. Will you go with me to fight against Moab?”
Jehoshaphat said, “I will go. I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” (8) Then he asked, “Which route should we take?”
Joram replied, “The route of the wilderness of Edom.” (9) So the king of Israel, the king of Judah, and the king of Edom set out. After they had traveled their indirect route for seven days, they had no water for the army or their animals. (10) Then the king of Israel said, “Oh no, the LORD has summoned us three kings, only to hand us over to Moab.”
(11) But Jehoshaphat said, “Isn’t there a prophet of the LORD here? Let’s inquire of the LORD through him.”
One of the servants of the king of Israel answered, “Elisha son of Shaphat, who used to pour water on Elijah’s hands, is here.”
(12) Jehoshaphat affirmed, “The LORD’s words are with him.”
So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went to him.
(13) However, Elisha said to King Joram of Israel, “We have nothing in common. Go to the prophets of your father and your mother!”
But the king of Israel replied, “No, because it is the LORD who has summoned us three kings to hand us over to Moab.”
(14) Elisha responded, “As the LORD of Hosts lives, I stand before Him. If I did not have respect for King Jehoshaphat of Judah, I would not look at you; I wouldn’t take notice of you. (15) Now, bring me a musician.” While the musician played, the LORD’s hand came on Elisha.”
I am not certain why, other than perhaps there is a way in which God inhabits the praises of His people, which in some measure encourages the Spirit in regard to the gift of Prophecy. All I know is that music, skillfully played can have an amazing effect. It was used by David to calm Saul and drive the demonic spirit away from Saul offering him temporary solace from his inner torment and here, it is used as a means by which the Spirit came to the prophet and filled his mouth with instruction for these kings.
I know personally, that some of the times I have sensed the spirit of the Lord upon me for prophecy have been following times of worship where the Holy Spirit moved upon hearts in the way which only He can and it coincided with a prophetic word He gave to me or someone else. I do not pretend to comprehend why.
“(16) Then he said, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Dig ditch after ditch in this wadi.’ (17) For the LORD says, ‘You will not see wind or rain, but the wadi will be filled with water, and you will drink–you and your cattle and your animals.’ (18) This is easy in the LORD’s sight. He will also hand Moab over to you. (19) Then you must attack every fortified city and every choice city. You must cut down every good tree and stop up every spring of water. You must ruin every good piece of land with stones.”
The word Wadi is an arabic word for a dry riverbed. The wadi does in fact flood from time to time. While you know I have no problem at all with this being a completely miraculous event, it may have been slightly less miraculous that it appeared.
You see, the mountains of the Negev and to the west of the Judea Wilderness get quite a bit of rain during their short rainy season. The mountain soil is so dry that it cannot absorb large volumes of water, so it runs off into the arid wilderness. Water of course, naturally flows to the lowest point which in this case would be the wadi or the dry riverbed.
When a flooding happens in the wadi it can be very dangerous, because it is often unexpected. The rain does not occur near enough to the wadi to be seen or heard, so that when it does happen the skies are often clear and the sun is shining when suddenly a flash flood like a wall of water drives through the canyon sweeping away everything and everyone in its path.
So here God is telling them that they will not see the rain or hear the wind, but a flood is coming. That is not to say that rain did not happen, just that they would not see or hear it. If there was rain God may or may not have caused it. One thing we see frequently in scripture is that God often seems to function with a type of conservatism in regard to displays of miraculous power. If a naturally occurring event will suffice He seems to prefer this, but when necessary, He both can and will part seas. In this case it may or may not have required rain which God may or may not have brought – but one thing is for certain, God knew it was coming and THAT was something THEY could not have predicted.
The ditches and trenches would have been to capture the waters so that when they passed, enough would remain and settle so that the waters would be available for the soldiers.
It is interesting that this very likely was the basis for Jesus’ parable of the wise man who built his house upon a rock versus the foolish man who built his house upon the sand. If you remember, in Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus’ story indicated that both of these houses were in an area where flooding occurred. He did not say, “If a flood happened to come”, He said, “When the floods came” (in fact some translations say, when the rivers rose) indicating that both houses were built in a flood zone.
The nature of the flood was rain water according to His parable – all of which were things His audience were quite familiar with. Contrary to the sobering point He was making, it is quite possible that the story may have made many of them chuckle since the imagery was so bizarre.
Who would build their house in a dried up riverbed? But His teaching was both spiritually and naturally sound. There are outcroppings of rock in the wadi upon which one could have built a house should they have desired. Not a modern house with electricity and city water running to and from, but the sort of house common in Judea could have been built there. When the floods did come, and they would come, they would find themselves temporarily on a small island in the middle of a very swiftly moving riverbed, but the house would be safe from the full brunt of the impact.
Again, I want to stress that God was perfectly capable of causing this event without rain and that very well may be what He did. All I am suggesting is that God may have used His foreknowledge of natural events to cause the armies to be ready and not be swept away by the flood, but rather use it to their salvation.
This is also a spiritual lesson. God sends blessings, and sometimes gives word of them before they come. The wise will prepare themselves to receive it.
“(20) About the time for the grain offering the next morning, water suddenly came from the direction of Edom and filled the land. (21) All Moab had heard that the kings had come up to fight against them. So all who could bear arms, from the youngest to the oldest, were summoned and took their stand at the border. (22) When they got up early in the morning, the sun was shining on the water, and the Moabites saw that the water across from them was red like blood. (23) “This is blood!” they exclaimed. “The kings have clashed swords and killed each other. So, to the spoil, Moab!”
“(24) However, when the Moabites came to Israel’s camp, the Israelites attacked them, and they fled from them. So Israel went into the land and struck down the Moabites. (25) They destroyed the cities, and each of them threw stones to cover every good piece of land. They stopped up every spring of water and cut down every good tree. In the end, only the buildings of Kir-hareseth were left. Then men with slings surrounded the city and attacked it. (26) When the king of Moab saw that the battle was too fierce for him, he took 700 swordsmen with him to try to break through to the king of Edom, but they could not do it. (27) So he took his firstborn son, who was to become king in his place, and offered him as a burnt offering on the city wall. Great wrath was on the Israelites, and they withdrew from him and returned to their land.”
Next week we will be learning about the life and ministry of Elisha.
I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
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