Summary: Contrast is made between Elisha and the other prophets. Lessons also drawn from Elijah on how to finish well.
Lessons from Elijah’s Translation
Two men in the Old Testament did not experience death. They were raptured into heaven when their time here on earth was accomplished. One was Enoch. Enoch’s life is summarized in the Bible with two statements. One in the O.T. and one in the N.T. Genesis says this about Enoch: “he walked with God.” The New Living Bible says, “Enoch lived in close fellowship with God.” Heb. 11 tells us “he pleased God.” There couldn’t be anything more basic and important in a person’s life than that. Wouldn’t you like to have God say those two things about you? “...he walked with God” and “he pleased God.” In the busyness of our lives we must never forget those two objectives.
Our story this morning begins with the other person who did not taste death. He was a prophet named Elijah. Elijah was a colorful character. He had the rough exterior of a heavy beard and animal skin clothes. He looked the part of a prophet. He also spoke like a prophet. His speech was not sugarcoated in any way. He was a man who said what he meant and meant what he said. He confronted kings without blinking. He was mighty in prayer and God used him to work awesome miracles. He taught a school of the prophets which not only grounded students in the word of God but also in the moving of the Holy Spirit. He mentored a young man named Elisha. Elisha was like an assistant pastor to Elijah. One group of people referred to Elisha as the one who “poured water on the hands of Elijah.” In other words, he pretty much did whatever Elijah needed him to do. My guess is: Elijah would not have been the easiest person in the world to work for. He was the most anointed man alive at that time; but that anointing came with rough personality edges.
Our story this morning begins in II Kings 2:1. Follow with me as we read verses 1-18.
This morning we want to look at this passage from three different angles. First, we will look at the man, Elijah, and learn from his behavior in this situation. Second, we will consider the other prophets and draw lessons their actions. Last, we will look at Elisha and see what we can learn from him.
I. In Elijah we have lessons on how to finish well in your walk with God.
II. In the other prophets we get a glimpse of how half-hearted commitment affects our behavior.
III. In Elisha we see the kind of decisions and action that moves us into a greater level of anointing.
I. Elijah is an example of someone who finishes well.
(Everyone over 40 years old should pay close attention to Elijah).
1st He kept obeying God right up to the end.
Four times we hear him say, “...for the LORD has sent me.” That’s the way Elijah lived; and he continues to live that way right up to the end. One of the greatest temptations the older Christians face is not a wild night at the bars; it’s not a temptation to run drugs or rob banks. No, those sins take too much energy and are too risky. The temptation older Christians face is to simply do nothing much of anything. They work at their jobs because that’s how they pay for the comforts of life. They spend time with their kids or in my case grandkids because that can be very affirming. They go to church 3 or 4 times a month because that sooths the conscience. There’s not as much temptation toward overt sin as there once was. The temptation now is toward sins of omission. James 4:17 “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins” (NIV). What did Jesus tell us to do? “Go into all the world and preach the gospel....” There’s a mission to be accomplished. There are people in misery and shame who need our message. Jesus says “Go”; but most Christians stay. They stay with their friends. They stay where they’re comfortable. They send themselves where they want to go rather than letting the Lord send them where He wants them. Why do Christians experience so little of the power of God? They don’t obey the most basic command we have from Jesus. They hunker down where it’s safe—and the power of God is seldom demonstrated where it’s safe.
The temptation to say to ourselves, “Let somebody else do it; I’m tired.” The temptation is to say, “I’ve paid my dues; let the younger generation do it.” I don’t see that in Elijah. He’s ready right up to the end of his life to go wherever the Lord sends him and do whatever the Lord tells him to do. I have to resist that temptation. I can’t say, “Let the younger guys plant churches or restart churches. It’s hard work and I’m tired.” No, I take the assignment the Lord gives me and do it with all my might. We are not our own; we are bought and paid for; we belong to the Lord and do His bidding.