Elijah was the voice of God until the time when God called him home. His successor, Elisha, had already been chosen by God.
Ahab died from a mortal wound he received in a battle with the Arameans. His chariot was taken back and washed at a pool in Samaria and the dogs licked up his blood as the word of the Lord declared.
So it was that Elisha began his apprenticeship with his mentor Elijah. Elijah and Elisha were on their way toward Gilgal when Elijah told him to stay behind because the Lord was sending him on to Bethel. But Elisha refused to stay behind and insisted that he continue on with Elijah on this his last journey.
Elisha knew this was the last hours he would be spending with his mentor and friend…and he didn’t want to miss out on any of it. As persistent as Elijah was that he stay behind Elisha was just as persistent that he wouldn’t leave him.
And so, they traveled on toward that place where the fiery chariot and whirlwind would take Elijah away.
Have you ever had to take over someone else’s job? Have you ever followed someone who was very good at what they did and wondered if you could really do it as well?
I suppose Elisha might have been experiencing those same feelings, having those same doubts about his ability to do what God asked Elijah to do.
There were other prophets, disciples of Elijah’s who followed along at a distance. Elijah and Elisha walked from Gilgal, to Bethel, to Jericho, to the Jordan River. At each place more prophets joined the troop and followed them at a distance.
This group that followed was quiet and respectful. They just wanted to see what would happen. The air must have been electric with anticipation.
When the two reached the Jordan Elijah rolled up his cloak and struck the river. Just like what happened with Moses and his staff, when the cloak touched the water the flow ceased and they were able to walk across the river. When their feet touched the other bank the flow resumed.
The two men, the older and wiser one talking and teaching the younger less experienced one, walked on. The younger one not sure if he’d have what was needed to confront kings and queens as Elijah had. Elisha had to be afraid. Especially, since he’d heard all about Jezebel and her threats to kill Elijah.
But God had protected and cared for Elijah and therefore Elisha should have known that God would look after him too.
Elisha had known for quite some time that he would be Elijah’s successor. So, when Elijah asked him what he could give him he asked for double the power Elijah had.
Elijah’s response was that if he watched and saw him go home to God then his request would be granted.
Sound easy? Have you ever tried keeping your focus on just one thing? Have you ever stared so long at something that your eyes almost crossed? Don’t you kind of wonder how long Elisha had to persist in keeping his focus on Elijah?
And then, in the blink of an eye, all at once, there it was the chariot of fire pulled by fiery horses. Elijah was taken into the chariot and it ascended into the sky in a whirlwind and then…he was gone.
There was stillness. There was quiet. Not even the birds were singing. Elisha saw it all, the flashing hooves, the dust, and then Elijah was gone. All that was left was his cloak.
Elisha received double the power that Elijah had. He also received his cloak which he picked up and began the walk back to the river. When he arrived at the banks of the river you know the prophets on the other side were watching to see what he’d do.
He rolled up the cloak, struck the water with it and said, “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” The water stopped flowing and he crossed over.
All who were witnesses knew there was a new prophet in Samaria. They knew the Spirit of the Lord that had rested on Elijah now rested on Elisha because he had been persistent in staying with his mentor to the end.
No longer was Elisha’s job to plow the fields. He had a new job with new challenges and everything that went with being the voice of the Lord in Samaria.And so, Elisha followed in the footprints of Elijah prophesying s and queens just like Elijah.