2 Kings 2:1-14
Elijah Ascends to Heaven
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. 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.”
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.”
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.
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. 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.
Elisha Succeeds Elijah
He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” When he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.
There is lots about this story that I love. It's one of those passages that has cropped up for me at significant times in the journey of faith.
In this passage, we find Persistence personified.
The persistence of Elisha who refused to leave Elijah as he set off on a journey ordained by God.
Although he was given ample opportunity to turn back or to wait it out, he persisted in accompanying Elijah on the road.
The persistence of the company of prophets who met Elisha at each stage of his journey to remind him - today's the day - the day that Elijah will be taken away. Even though Elisha begged them to keep quiet, they insisted in reminding him of what he didn't want to face.
And - The persistence of silence that often forces us to confront what we would rather avoid.
Persistence - a companion on the journey of faith.
Elisha's persistence is a persistence that paid off.
By sticking close to Elijah he witnessed him being taken up in a whirlwind and inherited a double share of the spirit that was upon Elijah.
The company of prophet's persistence paid off - they saw Elisha taking on the mantle that was Elisha's and recognised him as a prophet ordained by God, someone to whom they could pledge their allegiance and get alongside in sharing the word of God.
And the silence?
It's hard to outrun things that must be faced.
No matter what avoidance techniques we employ.
The voice of God, albeit a still, small voice will not be silenced.
The call of God persists through all our denial.
The God we serve is a persistent God.
Often, we are called to Persistence in the journey of faith.
Persistence when it seems that others would distract us and pull us in all sorts of other directions.
Persistence when we are weary and would just love to stop and rest awhile.
Persistence when we would rather not confront what is staring us in the face.
But the truth of God is persistent.
It is a truth that has remained through the ages - comforting, challenging and confronting.
A truth that refuses to be silenced.
Today, the mantle passes to us.
We are called to pass on that truth.
We give thanks today for all who have held the space for us.
For all who have kept the faith and honoured the truth of the living God.
With fear and trepidation we pick up the mantle as Elisha did and journey on into an unknown future carrying God's persistent truth into today's world.
We have arrived at the place of calling.
But the journey is just beginning.
We are called to lay Gods persistent truth before this generation.
We do not journey alone but with the company of prophets all through the ages, unseen witnesses to the truth of God.
And we journey with each other, prophets of God, called to take on the mantle, prophets on whom God's spirit is poured out today bringing us courage and strength for the journey.
Lets take up that mantle and be possessed by God's spirit to live out truth today.