Focal Passage: 2 Kings
I once served in a small
Baptist church that was “run” by one person. Oh, there was no manipulation of
committees or abuses of power. This man ran the church because he had served
the church and community for a long time. He had exercised good judgment as a
civic, family and church leader. People trusted him. They valued his wisdom.
They were inspired by his
personal walk with the Lord. Bottom line: The church followed his
One day he died, and there
was a pervasive uneasiness throughout the church because the great leader had
“gone to be with the Lord.”
What to do?
Elijah didn’t die, according
to this text, but was whirled to heaven amidst chariots and horses of fire, as
his young protégée looked on. He had been Israel’s de jure and de facto leader
for decades. The hand of the Lord had been upon him in his unending battles
against the prophets of Baal as well as the political intrigue practiced by
He had selected Elisha to
follow in his footsteps and carry on His prophecy.
Elisha, like many a young
leader, didn’t relish the thought of stepping into Elijah’s sandals.
Who wanted to coach
following Dean Smith? Again and again, Elisha was reminded that “today your
master will be taken from you.” He replied, “Yes, I know, but do not speak of
it” (2:3, 5). The reality was so harsh he didn’t want to think about it.
Yet, it was inevitable.
Elijah was willing to grant Elisha one last request. The young man asked for a
double portion of Elijah’s spirit (2:9). Elisha is asking for the inheritance
of the oldest son (Deut 21:17). He is asking to succeed to the prophetic office
of his “Father” (cf. V. 12). He has already demonstrated his loyalty to Elijah
by following him around on what is apparently a pointless roundabout journey,
from Gilgal, near the Jordan, to Bethel, then back to Jericho and the Jordan.
He passed a final test by “seeing” Elijah taken up to heaven.
Elisha was ready. He took
the mantle that had been Elijah’s and struck the water with it, as he had seen
Elijah do on numerous occasions. As it had parted for Elijah, it also divided
for Elisha. He was God’s man in this new era of Israel’s history.
Whenever leaders leave the
scene there is naturally a feeling of anxiety. Thankfully we are not left to
our natural selves. God continues to be in the business of raising leaders for
service in His kingdom.