Summary: How did Elisha receive the double portion? He asked for it. He was totally focused, committed and sold out to it. And, he received it! How bad do you want it? Where are you in your spiritual journey today? Are you hard after God?
Opening illustration: In 1937, missionaries were forced to leave southern Ethiopia because of World War II. They had reached the remote area of Wolayto only in 1928. Nine years later, there were only 48 converts, and they experienced brutal persecution because of their faith. Tears flowed on both sides as the missionaries were evicted, but they called out to their Wolayto brothers and sisters, “We are leaving you, but God is not leaving you!” One man, Wandaro, a fearless evangelist, was singled out for torture and imprisonment in an attempt to stop the spread of the gospel. Despite near fatal beatings, Wandaro survived and his example brought many to faith. Five years later, missionaries were allowed to return and were amazed to find nearly ten thousand new believers in Jesus, many of whom heard the gospel from Wandaro! They never could have imagined the work that God would accomplish through him.
Elisha also needed to be reminded that although his spiritual mentor Elijah was leaving him, God was not. That probably explains why he asked for a double portion of the Spirit that rested upon Elijah. Having seen Elijah's great works, humble Elisha knew that unless God was with him, it would be impossible to carry on the prophetic office. God answered his prayer and was powerfully with Elisha, who obediently picked up and wore Elijah's mantle. The parting of the Jordan gave full confirmation of Elisha's office, especially to the fifty other prophets who looked on. Although Elijah did great things, Elisha did even greater things. This anticipated John the Baptist, who prepared the way for the greater work of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:7).
Introduction: Through his obedience and boldness, Elijah turned the hearts of the Israelites back to the Lord. This powerful spokesman for God emerged from his wilderness hideaway to confront Ahab and Jezebel and to win a great victory of faith on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18). Who would not desire the anointing upon him and the ministry of God’s manifested power? The phrase “double portion” does not mean two portions of something. It especially does not mean twice as much of the Holy Spirit. Remember that the Holy Spirit is a person and not a substance that you can pour in by measure. John 3:34 tells us that God does not give His Spirit by measure. In the New Testament the command to be filled with the Spirit is a command to be controlled by the Spirit who indwells, not a command to get more of the Spirit. It means we are to allow the Spirit who indwells us to control more and more of our lives. It’s not that we get more of the Spirit but that the Spirit gets control of more of us.
So Elisha was not asking for more power or more of the Holy Spirit, but simply that he might be the successor of Elijah to carry on Elijah’s important ministry. From what we know about Elisha’s life and ministry that follows, this clearly was not a request of pride, for personal glory, or selfish gain of any kind. Instead, it was the request of a man responding to the challenge and needs of the day. It was a man wanting to be used of God for God’s glory. And it was a man showing his willingness by faith to accept the responsibility of God’s will for his life.