Elijah had been a faithful prophet of God. After exposing the false prophets of Baal, demonstrating that Jehovah was God, the Lord had more work for him to do. We read in 1 Kings 19:15-21 that he was to anoint kings, and also to anoint Elisha to succeed him as the prophet to Israel. When Elijah first met Elisha, Elisha was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen indicating he came from a family of wealth. Elisha’s family served the Lord and was not affected by the idolatry of the day. This is shown by his name, Elisha, signifying “God is deliverer.”
Elijah approached and indicated Elisha’s call to a special service by laying his mantle upon Elisha. His call was not to a place of ease, but to become a servant of the prophet. Elisha accepted the service joyfully and sacrificed his oxen. He humbly became Elijah’s servant, learning from him. Here is a lesson for us as Christians. If we are called to a service for the Lord, do we accept the invitation? Are we as quick to follow as Elisha?
Continuing in 2 Kings 2, Elijah asked Elisha what blessing he would desire before their separation. Elisha requested a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. This does not signify his desire to have twice as much as Elijah enjoyed, but rather was the familiar way of expressing an elder son’s double portion. Elijah responded his request would be granted, if Elisha would see Elijah at the time of their separation. Circumstances would tend to separate the two, and if they were separated for any reason, Elisha would not receive the blessing. The Lord led Elijah on a circuitous route. At various stopping places, he suggested that Elisha tarry. Instead, Elisha clung closely to the Prophet, allowing nothing to hinder being with Elijah to the very end. He stayed with Elijah until Elijah was separated by the chariot of fire and the whirlwind.
Elijah’s mantle, a symbol of his authority, fell to Elisha. Elisha took off his own outer garment and tore it in two, showing his grief. He then took Elijah’s mantle, along with the blessing and power of Jehovah that came with it. Elisha continued on to serve the Lord. May we also use our talents and abilities to serve the Lord with joy. as quick to follow as Elisha.
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