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 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.
2 Kings 2:9-12
God’s Work Goes On
There were people who knew that it was almost time for Elijah to be taken to heaven. Elijah knew it. Elijah’s helper, Elisha, knew it. So did the young men at the schools of the prophets that Elijah and Elisha met during their last travels together. All of them were aware that soon the Lord would bring to a close the ministry of his prophet Elijah.
So, what did that mean for the work that Elijah had been doing? Elisha already knew that he was chosen to be Elijah’s successor. When Elijah’s ministry was complete, Elisha would become God’s prophet to the people of Israel. But would Elisha have what he needed to proclaim God’s Word to the people of Israel, who were not in any way less idolatrous and rebellious now than they were when Elijah began his ministry?
When it was almost time for him to be taken to heaven, Elijah asked Elisha if there was anything he could do for him before he was taken. Elisha very wisely replied, “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit.” In that culture, when a father died, his first-born son inherited two portions of his estate. Elisha was asking that he be recognized as Elijah’s heir. He was asking that the Lord would give him what he needed to step into Elijah’s role as God’s prophet. Elijah knew that he himself could not give Elisha what he asked for. But he was confident that God could and would give it, if Elisha saw Elijah taken to heaven.
Suddenly, what everyone was expecting happened. A chariot and horses of fire appeared and separated Elisha from Elijah. And Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha had seen Elijah taken to heaven. Would he also inherit two portions of Elijah’s spirit? Would he be recognized as Elijah’s heir?
Yes, he did. And yes, he was. The Lord fulfilled his promise and was with Elisha just as he had been with Elijah. Strengthened by God, Elisha stepped into Elijah’s role and continued the work of proclaiming God’s Word. God’s work went on.
God’s work continues today. Because he still wants all people to hear the good news of all that he has done for them in Jesus, the Lord continues to call people to proclaim that good news. In every generation, from Elijah all the way until today, the Lord has provided men and women whom he strengthened and equipped for the task of sharing his good news. And he has promised that he will continue to provide more good news proclaimers in every generation until he returns to take his people home. How grateful we are that God’s work goes on, generation after generation! And how thankful we are for those who God has used to bring his good news to us!
Lord God, I praise you that you always make sure that the work of proclaiming your good news goes on. Bless your good news proclaimers so that many more may come to believe in you. Amen.