Reading For Thursday 2 Kings 2:1-25
Elisha was the constant companion and faithful attendant of Elijah while he wandered from place to place as the Spirit of God led him. Three times Elijah asked Elisha to remain behind because he knew his time was approaching. Under ordinary circumstances, Elisha probably would have complied with the request of his master, but the younger prophet knew that Elijah would soon be departing from the earth, and he did not want to miss those final hours of fellowship and instruction. Some student prophets called Elisha aside and warned him that he was about to lose his master and teacher. Again at Bethel, Elijah instructed Elisha to stay behind, but Elisha was determined to stay with him, and his master yielded to his request. At Jericho, Elijah made his third and final attempt to separate himself from his faithful servant and watched with eager curiosity as the two prophets reached the bank of Jordan. There Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up and struck the waters with it. Instantly, the waters parted and the two men walked across on dry land. When asked what he desired, Elisha requested a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. A double portion was the right of the eldest son who also had authority over members of the family once the father was gone. Granting such a request was not in Elijah's purview. Only God could designate a man as spiritual leader of the nation. The conversation of the two men of God was interrupted by the appearance of a chariot of fire pulled by horses of fire that whisked Elijah away up into the heavens. Elisha saw this breathtaking sight and when his friend and spiritual father disappeared into the clouds, he tore his clothes in grief. With a heavy heart, Elisha picked up the mantle that had fallen from the shoulders of Elijah and walked back to the edge of Jordan.
Repeating the actions of his master, Elisha struck the waters of the river with the mantle and asked, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” As the waters parted, Elisha must have known the answer to that question. By enabling him to repeat Elijah’s last miracle, God assured Elisha that his divine power was available to him as it had been to Elijah. When the sons of the prophets saw Elisha returning from the Jordan alone, they concluded that the spirit of Elijah rested upon him. After Elisha had informed them of Elijah's ascension, they were concerned about the well-being of their former master and they went to look for him. Fifty men searched for three days and found nothing. The leaders of Jericho came to the prophet and asked for his help with a bitter spring of water. Elisha called for a new bowl filled with salt. As he poured the salt into the spring, he told them that God had healed the water and they would no longer suffer from this dilemma. The waters were instantly and permanently made whole. Elisha went to Bethel, probably to inform the sons of the prophets there about what had transpired in Transjordan. On the outskirts of the city, he was confronted by a gang of hooligans that mocked him. They may have been telling him to go away in similar fashion to Elijah. These delinquents continued to follow behind, heckling and jeering at this man of God who now was the official representative of God on earth. Having endured this mockery and potential personal danger as long as he could, Elisha turned and “cursed” them in the name of the Lord. God stirred up two she-bears to come out of a nearby woods and attack the offenders. This example of God’s wrath was probably intended to serve as a lesson to a new generation which was growing up in contempt of God and true religion. Having completed this mission, Elisha returned to Samaria.
Things To Consider:
- Why is change difficult?
- Why do you think Elisha did not want to talk about the departure of his friend and master?
- Do you think Elisha understood the magnitude of his request?
- Do you think people desire leadership and authority without fully comprehending the weight that may accompany those responsibilities?
- Do you think God was trying to encourage Elisha by parting the water? What has God done to encourage your faith?
- Even a double portion faces critics...