Who Will You Walk With? Elijah and Elisha
Henry Blackaby said, “Watch to see where God is working and join Him in His work.” Elisha saw God working in Elijah’s life and followed him on an amazing spiritual journey. Join us for this devotion as we ponder who we walk with.
2 Kings 2:1-14 (ESV)
Elijah Taken to Heaven
Now when the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2 And Elijah said to Elisha, “Please stay here, for the LORD has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. 3 And the sons of the prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the LORD will take away your master from over you?” And he said, “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.”
4 Elijah said to him, “Elisha, please stay here, for the LORD has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. 5 The sons of the prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the LORD will take away your master from over you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.”
6 Then Elijah said to him, “Please stay here, for the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. 7 Fifty men of the sons of the prophets also went and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. 8 Then Elijah took his cloak and rolled it up and struck the water, and the water was parted to the one side and to the other, till the two of them could go over on dry ground.
9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.” 10 And he said, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so.” 11 And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 And Elisha saw it and he cried, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more.
Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. 13 And he took up the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 Then he took the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and struck the water, saying, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.
Digging into God’s Word
Henry Blackaby said, “Watch to see where God is working and join Him in His work.”
I participated in a bike tour this summer, around 400 miles in 7 days. I went with a group of avid cyclists. Being not so avid, I was slow. I’m going to blame the bike. Surely, it had nothing to do with my lack of physical fitness!
My friend Lori volunteered to bike with me. Poor Lori, having to pedal slower than her normal pace so as to not lose me. She wanted me to join her in singing old Sunday school favorites, which she belted out, but I could barely breathe in the 100 degree heat and 70 percent humidity.
What a gift, and how God arranged this! You know what I had always wondered about Lori? How did she get into intimate spiritual conversations so quickly with people she barely knew? She radiates love and joy. You don’t ever walk away from Lori discouraged.
So pedal along we did, her singing, me huffing and puffing. We did a lot of stopping at convenience stores and shade trees, usually with other cyclists grabbing the same coveted spot of shade, and I got to watch the Holy Spirit flow through Lori into her conversations with other cyclists.
Perhaps this illustrates a sliver of what Elisha yearned for from Elijah. One last word of wisdom. One more inexplicable miracle. Couldn’t his mentor and master stay one more day? Why did he have to go?
One night our cycling group ate at a pizza joint. In a booth near the front counter slept an adorable baby in a car carrier, no parent in sight. Our server turned out to be the manager and the mother of the baby. She had been unexpectedly called in to the short-staffed restaurant for the evening. With no childcare available, she brought her little one, and now our big group was taxing the restaurant’s slim staff. Partway through our meal, baby awoke and was not so happy, which she communicated in baby ways! The manager was stuck.
We offered to hold the baby. Somehow I won the rights (I may have begged), and little baby, all precious and warm, fell asleep on my shoulder. I didn’t eat much pizza. I just enjoyed that limp-baby-resting-on-shoulder best-feeling-in-the-world.
Spending time with Lori had rubbed off on me. As I was handing the baby back to grateful mom, I braved out: “Is there any way we can pray for you?” Mom melted. Yes. Her grandfather, who had lived with cancer for many years, was now in his last days. We could pray for a smooth passing for him, and we could pray for her family as they endured the process of losing their patriarch. I prayed, Lori standing with us, Mom crying and calming, pizza warming in the buffet next to us. The Lord soothed. We hugged and yearned for something different than knowing we would not see each other again.
Elijah and Elisha. Master and assistant. Mentor and learner.
As you strive toward the calling God has placed on your heart, trusting Him as you walk on this earth, who are you spending time with? Are you sticking close to the wise, the joyful, the spiritually mature? In what ways is it rubbing off on you?
P.S. If you like cool Bible stuff, check out the Extra Info below! Today’s passage is packed with extra meaning.
You will never regret making time for God. As you are able, spend time with God, reflecting on these questions or journaling your thoughts.
1. Look at the passage again and note what you learn about God. How does that help you in your walk today?
2. Which people in your life do you walk closely with, hoping their character rubs off on you? Are there any people where the opposite is true–you know you should walk less closely with them? Ask God for guidance in choosing friends and mentors.
3. Reread verse 14 and ponder it a little while. Elisha had just lost his master and now was alone as a great prophet. Was Elisha mad at the Lord? Did he doubt whether God was with him? Whatever the case, God showed Himself real to Elisha the moment Elisha struck the water with Elijah’s cloak and the waters parted. It’s like God was saying, “You called? You wonder whether I can be trusted? Just watch this. Yes, I am with you.” Where in your life do you need that same assurance today? This theme recurs often in scripture, and we can claim the promise for ourselves, too. As God said to Joshua: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
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Many Bible scholars find significance in the places God asked Elijah to visit on his final walk on earth. It’s pretty neat stuff.
- Gilgal: This is where Elijah and Elisha started during Elijah’s last journey. You can find Gilgal in Joshua 4:19-24 and Joshua 5:2-9. In Gilgal, the Joshua set up 12 stones to remind the Israelites that God had caused Israel to cross over the Jordan River on dry ground. They underwent their first circumcision in Gilgal, and, importantly, God rolled away the reproach of Egypt from the Israelites.
- Bethel: From Gilgal, God asked Elijah to go to Bethel. Bethel means “House of God.” It was at Bethel that Jacob had the dream of the ladder to heaven, with angels ascending and descending on it. As part of the dream, God promised Jacob the land to him and his offspring. See Genesis 28:10-19.
- Jericho: Next, Elijah and Elisha journeyed to Jericho. Jericho was the first city the Israelites were to take after they crossed the Jordan. But the battle was not theirs to win: It would be God who would prove to them that He could be trusted. See Joshua 6, especially verse 20: “So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city.”
- The Jordan River: Finally, God asked Elijah and Elisha to cross the Jordan, and they walked a while further before Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind. It is as if Elijah is being asked to walk the Israelites’ journey in reverse. It was at the Jordan River that God miraculously parted the waters so the Israelites could pass over on dry ground. See Joshua 3, especially verses 14-17. Yes, they experienced shades of the Red Sea, when their ancestors had escaped slavery in Egypt. This was not by accident! God’s plan is always good.
For in-depth reading about these four locations, see this site. One other thing: Many people call this experience of Elijah his “translation.” It’s just a word they’ve chosen to describe the event of Elijah being taken to heaven without experiencing an earthly death.
Back in the 1980s, Rich Mullins wrote a song about Elijah being taken to heaven. You can find a non-dressed-up version here: “Elijah”. Incidentally, one of the very best concerts I ever went to was Rich Mullins at a small town in Illinois. Rich was barefoot on stage and played to a crowd of maybe 1,000. If you want to read about someone who was “all in,” search on Rich Mullins.Print