TO CHEW ON: "And so it was when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, 'Ask! What may I do for you before I am taken away from you?' Elisha said, 'Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.'" 2 Kings 2:9
I have always loved folktales where the characters are given wishes. "You can have three wishes…" fires up my imagination: What would I say if someone offered that to me? In the stories, usually the characters' choices have a hidden twist, showing the characters as foolish (e.g. "King Midas and the Golden Touch") or wise in what they wished for.
The Bible has its own brand of wish stories. Solomon and Esther were given the opportunity to make wishes. Another is in today's reading where Elijah asks Elisha what he can do for him before Elijah is taken into heaven. Elisha's answer: "Please let a double portion of your spirit be on me," is interesting. A footnote explanation in my Bible says:
"Since the double portion was the privilege of the firstborn (Deuteronomy 21:17), it has been suggested that Elisha is asking to be Elijah's successor. Yet this is more than just a petition to be Elijah's successor because that had already been established (1 Kings 19:16-21).
Elisha realized that he did not have the capability to fulfill the awesome responsibility of carrying on Elijah's work. As Elijah's successor, Elisha applies the principle of the firstborn to ask for a spiritual inheritance. This is described as the spirit of Elijah (2 Kings 2: 9, 15) and is either an indirect or direct reference to the Holy Spirit.
The Hebrew word "spirit" has a wide range of meaning (it can refer to the human spirit, the Holy Spirit, an evil spirit, a prophetic spirit, or even the wind). Here it probably refers to the energizing power of the prophetic spirit that characterized the life of Elijah. The Holy Spirit is the author of Elijah's prophetic gift (1 Samuel 10:6,10; 19:20,23)" p. 483, New Spirit Filled Life Bible.
You and I will probably never be asked what we wish for in such a straightforward way. However, any time we contemplate our lives in regard to goals, objectives and resolutions, we encounter a variant of this, couched in challenges like:
"If you could sum up the purpose of your life in one word, what word would you choose?
What would you want your epitaph to say?
Over the course of your life, what do you want to do? to be?
(Read more at "Writing a Mission Statement" by Chip MacGregor).
Elijah got it right. God's 'yes' to his request was so evident, the sons of the prophets remarked on the presence of Elijah's spirit visible in him even as he returned alone (vs. 15).
Likewise we need to think carefully and prayerfully about what we wish for. For it may just come true!
PRAYER: Dear God, please give me the wisdom to see my life realistically and to desire and pursue only Your best for me. Amen.
MORE: Noble wishes
Here are some wishes to consider as we contemplate our personal wish lists.
- A thirst for and delight in God (Psalm 27:4; Psalm 63:1).
- A knowledge of right priorities (Psalm 37:4; Matthew 6:30-33)
- A love for and knowledge of God's word (Joshua 1:8; 1 Peter 2:2).
- The opportunity to impact many people and lead them to Christ (Daniel 12:3; Matthew 4:19; Luke 5:10).
Think about (and write out if you like) what you would say if you were given one wish.
Do your 8-12-year-olds have daily devotions? Point them to Bible Drive-Thru.