“Now when the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the LORD has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.” (II Kings 2:1 – 2)
Elijah was on his “farewell” tour, and Elisha was finding it hard to say good-bye. Good-byes are hard, especially when the loved one is passing from this world to the next. I remembering trying to say good-bye to my step-father. At the end, I had to rely on the words of the Divine to encompass everything I was feeling; sadness & grief, but with the knowledge that this passing would be a fulfillment of everything that my step-father’s life and faith had prepared him for; and how he had prepared me. “The Lord will bless you & keep you; the Lord’s will shine upon you & you give you peace. “
“The company of prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the LORD will take your master away from you?” And he said, “Yes, I know; keep silent.” (Verse 3)
It is equally easy to believe that this was said with good will and compassion as it is to believe it was said with little compassion and mocking. One hopes for the best, but is prepared for the worst.
“Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here; for the LORD has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. The company of prophets who were at Jericho drew near to Elisha, and said to him, “Do you know that today the LORD will take your master away from you?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be silent.” (Verses 4 – 5)
I also wonder how these collections of prophets knew about this; of course, the answer may be self-evident if they were truly prophets of the Divine. I hope then their question to Elisha was gentle and compassionate. You would think, as true prophets of the Divine, it was.
“Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on. Fifty men of the company of prophets also went, and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the water; the water was parted to the one side and to the other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.” (Verses 6 – 8)
Elijah called Elisha from where he was working in the fields, tilling the ground with oxen. As the story is told, Elisha immediately made plans to follow Elijah. No hesitation. This, and Elisha’s determination not to be parted from Elijah speaks volumes about his future. Notice too, beloved reader, that Elijah does not designate any of the prophets that he met on this farewell tour as his successor. Maybe Elisha made note of this also.
“When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven.” (Verses 9 – 11)
I was not there when my step-father passed. Neither was I there when my grandmother and grandfather passed. The ancestors of mine were also my spiritual forebearers. How I wish I could have had final words with them, once again being witness to their faith. But I think of that, the inheritance of faith from them, often. Especially when I need to draw on faith myself. Their example of hoping for the best, but preparing for the difficulties of life through faith is an example to me.
“Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.” (Verse 12)
I must tell you, beloved reader, I know Elisha did inherit great faith. His river-dividing ways are an important part of Old Testament scripture.
May you, beloved reader, draw on the strength of your forebearers and spiritual forebearers. May you gather to yourself spiritual faith, endurance, and stamina. May you receive the best of blessings, but be prepared for the trials and tribulations of this human life. Shalom & Selah!