2 Kings 2:10
“STAY HERE”: A Journey of commitment and faithful living
There is one thing that will bring tears to my eyes as much as anything else and that is when one person does his best to protect another against being hurt spiritually or inwardly in some way. Basically it is a sacrificial act of protecting someone else. You can see this example in novels or movies and in various life experiences. Of course when I needed to remember a particular movie, book or life experience that reflects this thought, I nearly drew a blank. The only example I could recall was with a movie entitled “Air Bud”. Yup! That is the story of a boy who finds a talented dog to play basketball with while trying to keep him from his former abusive master. In one scene of that movie, the boy tried to ditch the dog, rather than see “BUD” return to his wicked master. So he yells out a command to the effect of, ‘STAY HERE”! The dog of course did not understand. The little boy again said STAY HERE and eventually had to throw the dog’s favorite toy so that the dog would chase it and not see the boy run away. We know as we watch the movie that the dog really wants to stay with the boy and the boy really wants to stay with the dog but, at the time, the separation seems like the best thing.
In our Old Testament lesson we see a similar account! No, there is no Dog playing basketball but there is a command for one person to STAY PUT. In our reading we see that Elijah and Elisha are together but, soon to be separated because the Lord was about to take Elijah in a whirlwind.
Elijah is quite attached to Elisha and visa versa. Each of them knows what God has promised to soon do. Therefore as that time of departure approached, Elijah tells Elisha to “STAY HERE”. Of course it is not an easy thing to see someone you love being taken away from you permanently, and so it is easier simply not to view the loss. Maybe that is the reason why Elijah told Elisha to “STAY HERE”. But Elisha would have none of it. He said, “As Surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.”
Now that’s a dedication folks and it is that dedication that will be our focus for today. This dedication was not simply an act of loyalty and friendship but, one that tells us that Elisha wanted to be a part of every aspect of God’s ministry through Elijah. When I observed this dedication of Elisha, I began to pray. I asked God that He would continually enable me to have the same dedication with him. You see, this world of ours is often the voice that says “STAY HERE” but, it is not command derived from warning or protection but, of avoidance. ‘STAY HERE and relish in the joys and passions that this world can offer. “STAY HERE at home and remain asleep instead of going to worship or serve someone. “STAY HERE” to read this next chapter in this exciting Novel rather than stopping so that you can spend time in God’s Word. “STAY HERE” and listen to the wisdom of this world rather than the wisdom of God.
As I was in prayer I began to ask, “Lord, what do we miss when we listen to the world’s call to “STAY HERE” rather than walk on with you?” The answer came to me quickly as I read on in Scripture and followed the journey of Elijah and Elisha.
When we STAY IN THE WORLD we miss out on the company of the Lord. We can only imagine the conversations these two prophets had as they journeyed together. We can surmise that they prayed together. What we do know is that God divinely directed Elijah to Bethal, Gilgal and Jericho where a company of prophets came out to see him. There was certainly a meeting with that company that came out and Elisha now had an opportunity to learn and to listen, as the prophet Elijah spoke to them. If Elisha STAYED as he was asked, he would have missed out on this fellowship both with his mentor and with the various groups out of each city. Remember where two or three are gathered, there is the Lord in their midst.
We can learn so much as we gather together in God’s name. We can grow with one another as we fellowship, as we simply talk and get to know each other better and as we journey together over the years towards the earthy ministry destinations that God assigns for us. But when we STAY away from these opportunities we truly miss out.
You will note that Elijah said to Elisha three times to “STAY HERE” First before he went down to Bethel, next as he was planning to journey to Jericho and again when he planned to go to the Jordan. Yet, each time Elisha answered, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” There is passion there folks. A person who does not have Godly passion will always find reasons why it is not time to do something. A person with Godly passion will discover many ministry or personal spiritual growth opportunities!
In seeing Elisha’s continual response I again went to prayer and prayed that the Lord would not allow my passion for Him to fade. I know my sinful nature is always before me, even as it was always a burden to St. Paul and all of God’s faithful servants. Maybe back in January I would choose not to listen to the world’s call to STAY in the world and apart from the Lord but I cannot expect that my own strength of will, would carry me onward to the next month. Instead, I must remain in the Word and in Prayer and seek out my Father’s Strength and Guidance. God gives us His Holy Word to ponder, to study, to breathe in and to absorb daily, so that His Word will be as close to us as Elijah was to Elisha, and even more.
Refusing to stay in the World provides us opportunities to stand firm. Just as three times Elisha refused to STAY put, so too on three separate occasions the company of prophets gave Elisha an opportunity to become self-absorbed in sorrow. Upon each meeting the company of prophets said, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?”. Why do you suppose Elisha did not want to speak of it? It is my opinion that Elisha wanted to focus on the moment, instead of looking ahead to what would come later. Sometimes when we look ahead we miss out on what is right in front of us. Elisha had three opportunities to stand firm in this truth and to focus on the moment and not to allow himself to waste the time he had with his mentor grieving over what was to come. God provides these opportunities to us as well. When trials come our way, with God’s help, we can focus on what God offers now, rather than focusing on what has been or will be lost. In Christ, we are able to hold onto the Lord’s love and fellowship and faithfulness and move on. Of course there are days when we might falter, and look inwardly and allow the concern of what is to come overtake us. When those days come upon us, God will call you to STAY with him and focus on what He offers now….What does he offer us now? His Love! His Mercy! His Word! His Ear! His Strength! His Fellowship! His Direction! His Will and His Purpose!
If Elisha decided to STAY as Elijah asked, he would have then missed out on the miraculous power of God. In verse 8 we read the following: “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.” Now can you imagine what you would say if someone invited you to go with them somewhere and you refused, only to discover that God parted the waters while you were gone and you could have seen it?
I know what I would say. I would groan with frustration and anger over my lack of ambition because I missed out on seeing the hand of God at work. Well, does God have to part waters for us to get excited? Of course not, God’s hand is always at work in the lives of others but if we STAY in the world, and put aside ministry opportunities, there is no telling how much we will miss. Thankfully, Elisha did not miss seeing God’s mighty hand at work and when I see him in heaven, I want to ask what it was like walking through parted waters. Did he walk through with pure confidence or was he awe struck at his surroundings? Scripture says they crossed over on dry ground. I know if it were there I would have certainly walked quickly stopping only to take tons of pictures in the process.
Next, because Elisha did not STAY as Elijah suggested, he was available for Elijah to ask him a question. “ Verse 9 says, “When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” When we are STAYING in the world, we will certainly not seek prayer with God. We certainly would not seek his favor nor make any requests of him in Jesus’ name. It is so easy to get absorbed in our daily tasks. Even though we are Christians, we still have responsibilities and it is quite easy to let one day slip by where we do not talk to God. It is easier still that when we let one day go by, we can let another go by, then another and before you know it, you can’t remember that last time you talked to God or listened. Today’s reading reminds us of what can happen when we STAY with our Lord in a faithful journey of Word and Prayer. Elijah asks Elisha, what he can do for him and Elisha now has the opportunity to answer. He says, “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit”.
This request was a not as bold as it first seems. Elisha is not asking for twice the ministry that Elijah had, instead he was using the term that comes from an inheritance law. This use of the law was his way of expressing desire to carry on Elijah’s ministry. Inheritance law assigned a double portion of a father’s possessions to the first born son.
This request also allowed Elijah to teach Elisha that the issue of his request rested solely in the hands of God the Father; it was not something that Elijah could promise on his own. This lesson learned helps us to see that we must give all things over to God and not allow our hopes and expectations to rest soley on the promises of one another. Everything we do and everything we say is more blessed upon our spirit when our actions and our blessings are seen as coming from God.
Finally, because Elisha did not STAY he was able to see something quite amazing. I get a laugh at this portion of our study. In verse 11 we read, “As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them…” My comment to that quote is with the words, “YA THINK”? Did scripture really need to tell us that they were separated? I think that any time a chariot of fire comes between me and someone else, it will most certainly separate us. Now I know the reason why that verse is available to us. It is because people would then argue saying, “how did Elisha not get caught up with Elijah since they were walking together?”
Anyway, because Elisha did not STAY put, he was able to see God’s promise fulfilled. He was able to see a very rare event, in that, a human being was taken up into heaven without having first seen the grave. Do you know how special a gift that is? We live in a world of sin where the grave in inevitable. We will all see the grave but here Elijah was kept from it. You and I, because we STAY in Christ and more importantly because He STAYS with us, we will one day meet folks like Elijah, Elisha, Moses and Jesus. We will be carried up with Christ after death. We will receive new bodies. We will live with the Lord for all eternity which is certainly encouragement enough for me to STAY with Christ. The world can only offer me a silk lined coffin with a Red Sox logo on it.
There is much to reflect upon with the words found in 2 Kings 2:1-12 but, what our Lord shows us today is that it is must better to journey on with Jesus rather than to stay behind in this world. There is much that we can be a part of when we continue our journey with Jesus and as we remain faithful to His Word and Gifts, even as Elisha discovered when he remained with Elijah. Today, as we are in the Word and in Prayer we might not quickly see the sort of results that Elisha observed on his final journey but any journey with Jesus with produce fruit. For Elisha, he indeed carried on the ministry of Elijah but only after that long journey. You and I will start our journey together in prayer as we grow together in the Word; then let us see what will happen while we STAY with and in Jesus.
LC-MS LUTHERANS are the folks whose storied history began with Martin Luther and his break from the Roman Catholic Church. The Reformation gives its credit to Martin but ultimately to God. We believe the Bible is of course fully the Word of God. We take God at His Word, even when we do not fully understand. We focus on Doctrine, Proper Distinction of Law & Gospel, and Theology. Our Goal is like yours, to seek and to save the lost, to encourage and to equip with the Word of God and to make a differece in the lives of others. Be Blessed!