"Elijah Taken to Heaven"
Illustration from Treasures of the Bible
TODAY'S SPECIAL: 2 Kings 2:1-18
TO CHEW ON: "And Elisha saw it … He also took up the mantle of Elijah…" 2 Kings 2:12,13.
On reading of this story two questions come to mind:
1. What was the significance of Elisha seeing Elijah taken from him? For Elijah said that whether or not Elisha got his last request (a double portion of Elijah's spirit) hinged on him witnessing that event - 2 Kings 2:10.
2. Do mantle hand-downs (and by that I mean more than inheriting a piece of physical clothing) still happen today?
First the seeing bit
The old commenter, Matthew Henry, gives two possible explanations. He suggests Elijah:
1. Was telling Elisha to pay close attention to his last minutes, as a student attends his teacher.
2. Was naming this sight condition as a sign of God's favor.
I side with the latter. Elijah understood the spiritual rigor of being a prophet, the faith it demanded, and the need for spiritual sight. I believe Elisha recognized it too—indeed hoped it would be included the "double portion" of Elijah's spirit he requested - 2 Kings 2:9.
The writer of my Bible's notes on 2 Kings defines the "spirit of Elijah": "… is either an indirect or direct reference to the Holy Spirit" - Larry D. Powers, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 483.
That Elisha was a candidate for that spirit (Spirit) was made clear here when he did see Elijah leave. And he certainly got a good measure of that sight:
- He saw his servant following Naaman, then lying to get some of the money and clothes he coveted - 1 Kings 5:25,26.
- He saw and heard the actions of the Syrian King and army, though he wasn't present - 1 Kings 6:12.
- He saw the heavenly army that surrounded the city - 1 Kings 6:17.
My Bible's study notes define mantle as "a symbol of the authority he (a prophet) had been given by God" - Powers, Op Cit. p. 484.
When Elijah first called Elisha to be his successor, Elijah threw his cloak (or mantle) around Elisha (1 Kings 19:18). It's clear from Elisha's actions following that, that he knew what this meant.
Talk of inheriting or having someone's mantle fall on one is still a teaching in some churches. My daughter experienced such an event as a teenager and I believe it changed the course of her life (for the good).
What spiritual inheritance do we long for? What mantle would we hand down? Would anyone want it?
PRAYER: Dear Father, thank You for these spiritual giants Elijah and Elisha. Please help me to give Your Spirit greater access to my life. My desire is leave a worthwhile spiritual legacy. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.