Summary: In this last sermon in our series, we witness Elijah's exciting exit and learn some things about how to face the end of our own lives.
A. You all know what a “grand finale” is, right?
1. The grand finale is the very exciting or impressive ending of a performance or a show.
2. Well, I guess someone in rural Arkansas didn’t know the meaning of the phrase.
3. Some of our relatives attended a 4th of July fireworks display in Daisy, Arkansas - population 118.
4. A few minutes into the fireworks display, a voice came over a loud speaker, saying: “And now for the grand finale!”
5. Our family looked at each other surprised and thought, “Wow, that was a short show!”
6. But then the fireworks went on and on and a half an hour later there was the traditional “grand finale with lots of fireworks going off at once.
7. Obviously, the announcer didn’t know what the “Grand Finale” meant.
8. So it is now a fun inside joke in our family, we like to announce, “and now for the grand finale”
B. Today’s sermon is the grand finale in the story of the life of Elijah and in our sermon series on Elijah.
1. Because I know the real meaning of grand finale, you should not come next week looking for yet another sermon in the continuing saga of Elijah.
2. The story comes to a close today.
3. But let me tell you it is no boring ending.
4. Elijah exits the stage with a flash and a gust of wind!
5. His story has a true grand finale – a very exciting and impressive ending – the most exciting ending of any biblical character with the exception of Jesus.
C. So, with no further ado let’s begin the grand finale!
I. The Story
A. What a journey Elijah has been on and we right along with him.
1. His journey began with his training at Cherith.
a. He was further shaped and refined at Zarephath.
b. He was used magnificently on Mount Carmel.
2. We have seen him stand alone before wicked kings and a wicked queen.
3. Finally toward the end, Elijah was given the companionship of a friend, Elisha, his trainee.
4. During our study, we have seen Elijah at his best and at his worst.
a. We have seen him victorious, riding high in God’s triumph.
b. And we have seen him defeated, walking low in despair.
c. He emerged out of nowhere as God’s man of the hour to stand alone in the gap.
d. He has been heroic almost beyond belief, yet humble of heart.
5. We have seen Elijah reach the pinnacle of life’s experiences, but today’s ending is going to top them all.
6. Today we are going to witness Elijah as he dodges death and leaves the earth in a blaze of glory.
B. Skipping death puts Elijah in a very rare category of “deathless departures.”
1. As far as we know, only two people have exited earth without passing through the jaws of death.
2. Enoch was the first person. His story is told in Genesis 5:21-24.
3. Elijah was the second person.
4. The last to experience this kind of departure with be those believers who are alive on earth when Christ returns – we are told about this in 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 1 Cor. 15:51-54.
C. The remarkable part of Elijah’s story is that he knew he was going to be taken up to heaven without dying.
1. Because of this, he leaves us a fitting example of how we should be living in anticipation of Christ’s return.
2. Although we are not told when or how God told Elijah about his deathless departure, it is obvious from the context that God gave Elijah information about his departure ahead of time.
3. As we will see, God also made it known to “the sons of the prophets,” as well as to Elisha.
D. The Bible says: When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. (2 Kgs. 2:1)
1. So we have come to Elijah’s last day on earth and he was about to be taken up to heaven in a whirlwind.
2. The Hebrew here can also be translated, “in a gust, in a windy moment.”
3. So in some kind of sweeping movement, Elijah would be caught up, and in that instant he would be gone from this earth into God’s presence in heaven.
4. Because God has told Elijah when this would happen, how this would happen and where this would happen, we see Elijah moving quickly toward the Jordan.
E. As we read the narrative, try to imagine the scene as it unfolds.
1. The Bible says: Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.