Wednesday, December 23, 2009


He came from a wealthy family. He was bald. He was faithful. True to the end. Chosen as a replacement to Elijah, we first met Elisha plowing with twelve sets of oxen. His father had put him over the twelve sets, and he plowed with the twelfth. God told Elijah specifically to anoint Elisha as prophet in his place in First Kings 19:16. Elisha only asked for permission to kiss his parents goodbye, and he sacrificed the set of oxen, boiled them, fed everyone, and arose and followed and ministered to Elijah.

In the first chapter of Second Kings, Elisha gets to watch Elijah call down fire from heaven and consume over 100 soldiers. And before Elijah departs for heaven in a chariot, Elijah will tell Elisha, "ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you." And Elisha asks for a double portion of your spirit---and Elijah declares it a hard thing, but promises that if he sees Elijah depart, his request has been granted.

I was struck by how different groups come out and warn Elisha that God is taking Elijah home today, and Elisha answers, "yes, I know, be still." The equivalent of "shut up", today?? Elijah seems reluctant to let Elisha see him leave. He tries to distract Elisha a few times, but Elisha clings to him like a glove. Swears to not leave him.

Then it came about as they were going along and talking, that behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven. And Elisha saw it and cried out, "My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horseman!" And he saw him no more. Men ask where Elisha is, volunteer to go look for him. They don't believe Elisha that Elijah left by chariot. They shame Elisha with what if God dropped him on a mountain?? But, never find him.

And one of Elisha's first miracles is dry land when walking over the Jordan, then making the water of Jericho sweet. Removing the curse of Jericho from when Israel entered the land and the city was destroyed.

Elisha was given a year or two (??!!) to be mentored by Elijah. And even though he knew the day of Elijah's departure, he did not like to see it come, and he missed Elijah. He grieved his loss. He took up Elijah's mantle, and would continue a thankless job. He did not have to see Elijah die. And in a strange irony, when it was his turn to go, another man will come to life when thrown in his grave.

Called by God. Not afraid to argue with his mentor. Faithful, ministered, served, respectful, watchful, ready to set aside the plow and family and follow God's call. And the Bible records his grieving. And God uses him to raise to life the child of a woman who gives him hospitality. A child given when she had none...foreshadowing the Christmas Story and Elizabeth. Elisha will multiply the oil of a destitute widow---but makes her "work" for it by borrowing vessels to hold the bounty. He doesn't just hand her cash to blow on liquor or crack. God will use a little slave girl who has heard about Elisha to heal a captain of the Army from leprosy. And make him demonstrate his faith by dipping seven times. Elisha will make an ax head float, and show a doubting fearful servant the Army of God that protects. Invisible to us until God uncovers our eyes...

Elisha is busy even on his deathbed in Second Kings chapter 13. And we hear the king of Israel visit and weep, and and use that phrase again: "My father, my father, the chariots of Israel." That phrase that Elisha exclaimed when Elijah left. Maybe something is lost in translation. Maybe I need to hear it in the Hebrew or have someone translate the idiom or metaphor. But, in both cases, the phrase is used at the death or departure of a beloved prophet who did God's Will to the end. Persevered. Is always ready, obedient, and was given some big, dramatic miracles to get people's attention.

In reviewing my family ancestors, the name, Elisha comes up frequently. My ancestors probably knew the stories, too, and honored his memory by naming their sons Elisha. Bob has a cousin with a grandson named, Elijah.

Enoch and Elijah---both transferred on to heaven without dying. Enoch walked with God, and walked on home to heaven with Him. Elijah and Moses will come back as the two Witnesses of Revelation in the Tribulation, and suffer death. All eyes will see their bodies and then see them raised from the dead.

And it is amazing that even Elisha's bones bring a man back to life. 2 Kings 13:21.

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