Summary: How Elisha dealt with the loss of his friend and mentor Elijah
My text this morning is taken from the Old Testament reading: 2 Kings 2:1-12
It is the well-known story of Elijah and Elisha and how God took Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind and Elisha was left behind on his own.
This morning, I would to look at Elisha, and see how he dealt with the loss of his friend.
God had called Elisha to be a prophet. He had trained for a long time with Elijah and now God was taking Elijah away.
If I had been Elisha, how would I have reacted? Would I have blamed God for taking my friend away. Or would I have been able to see that the time of appenticeship was over and God was now releasing me to fulfill the call that he had for my life on my own.
The challenge to us this morning is:
How singleminded am I in God’s service?
What do we know about Elisha?
He was a businessman - in fact a farmer. Judging by the fact that he had "twelve yoke of oxen" (1 Ki 19:19), he was pretty successful.
Yet when the call of God came to him, he left that all behind to become Elijah’s pupil. We read that
"...He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burnt his 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 attendant."
By the time of this morning’s reading, Elisha had spent a lot of time with Elijah.
The master-pupil relationship had probably developed into a father-son relationship.
Elisha had developed his own relationship with God and his prophetic gifts had been growing.
But Elijah was always there to lean on.
As long as Elijah was around, Elisha could not fully develop into the prophet God had called him to be.
The day had to come when God would release Elisha to be on his own. He would now have to depend on God more directly than ever before.
And so I wonder what was going on through Elisha’s mind as he walked on the road from Gilgal to Bethel and from Bethel to Jericho.
1. He was losing a very close friend
2. Although he had given up his old life to trust God in his new life, he was losing the security that Elijah had brought to his new life.
3. He would have no option if he wanted to take over from Elijah as the prophet in Israel to look to God and God alone.
4. Was he tempted to look back and ask himself if he had made a mistake in leaving the farm to follow Elijah.
We can see a little of Elisha’s touchiness in his reply to the prophets in Bethel and the prophets in Jericho.
When they tell him that Elijah is going to leave, he says: "I know but just belt up will you". (v.4)
I remember the day that my father died. Even though I had left home some eight years and was living in Switzerland, I was married and had three boys - yet when Dad died I felt a deep sense of loss. Dad was gone.
I am sure many of you know what it feels like.
There is a time when God takes away someone close on whom we depend and we ask: Why Lord?
I think similar thoughts were going through Elisha’s mind.
I did when Dad died.
Yet it is in these very circumstances that God releases you into your own ministry. Painful as it may feel.
That was the case for me when Dad died.
He was such a powerful character, that I could not step out into my calling as long as he was alive
Back to the story:
Elisha and Elijah arrive in Jericho and then move on from there down to the Jordan river.
As Elijah comes to the Jordan, he strikes the river and the water divides to allow them to pass.
They cross and when they get to the other side, Elijah asks: What can I do for your before I am taken up from you?
I wonder how I would have answered the question.
I know my wife, Maddy would probably have asked for a nice little farm with horses and goats up in East Yorkshire!!
Others might have asked for a nice husband or wife and family to support them in their ministry.
Elisha knew what God had called him to do.
He had made a commitment to it when he slaughtered the oxen and had burnt the ploughs.
So Elisha asked for what was necessary to fulfil the task God had called him to.
So he asked Elijah for "a double portion of his Spirit". (v.9)