Our Old Testament lesson this week is 2 Kings 2:1-12.
“When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?” “Yes, I know,” Elisha replied, “so be quiet.” Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, Elisha; the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho. The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?” “Yes, I know,” he replied, “so be quiet.” Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them walked on. Fifty men from the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground. When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied. “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.” As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two.”
Old Testament lessons are sometimes difficult to put into perspective. In this story Elijah is about to be taken into heaven, and it pains his student Elisha to lose him. Even though Elijah knows this is coming, he continues about the Lord’s work and though he instructs Elisha to stay, he follows.
Before Elijah is taken up, Elisha asks for a double portion of his spirit. Elisha knows he will need God’s help to carry on the mission he inherits, and God blesses him with that gift. After Elijah is gone, Elisha is able to part the Jordan just as his master did, a demonstration that his faithfulness has been blessed.
We need to learn to ask for what we need without overstating or thinking we can do it alone. We can never do without God’s support and we can always go to Him with our requests. God’s gifts are given in love that we may do His will.
Loving Lord, we are thankful for the ways You bless us and teach us. Help us to use Your gifts well for the good of all Your people. Amen.