Through the Bible: 2 Kings 1-4
3 Then the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha and said, “Do you know that the Lord will take your master away from you today?” He said, “Yes, I know. Be quiet.” (2 Kings 2:3)
5 Then the sons of the prophets who were in Jericho came up to Elisha and said, “Do you know that the Lord will take your master away from you today?” He said, “Yes, I know. Be quiet.” (2 Kings 2:5)
7 Fifty men from the sons of the prophets came and stood observing them at a distance while the two of them stood by the Jordan. 8 Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up, and struck the water, which parted to the right and left. Then the two of them crossed over on dry ground. 9 When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken from you.” So Elisha answered, “Please, let me inherit two shares of your spirit.” 10 Elijah replied, “You have asked for something difficult. If you see me being taken from you, you will have it. If not, you won’t.” (2 Kings 2:7-10)
In 2 Kings 2, Elijah and his protege Elisha take a final lap around Israel, visiting three significant places in Israel’s history. They go to Bethel, where Abram built his first altar to God (Gen. 12:8), and where God renewed the promise He made to Abraham to Jacob (Gen. 28:10-19).
After Bethel they went to Jericho, the first city conquered by the Israelites in the Promised Land (Joshua 6).
Finally, the went to the Jordan, where Elijah parts the waters and they walk across the Jordan on dry ground, just as Joshua and the children of Israel did in Joshua 3.
The common thread through all three of these places is that they represent a transition from one generation to the next.
- The promise God made to Abram was renewed to Jacob (Bethel).
- The power God demonstrated through Moses was demonstrated through Joshua (Jericho)
- God would be present with Joshua as He was with Moses (Jordan).
At all three of these places, the company of the prophets were gathered there. At Bethel and Jericho, they seemed to be there to throw shade on Elisha: “You know Elijah’s about to be taken away from you, right?” Their implicit message was, “and who’s gonna take his place? You?”
Each time, Elisha steadfastly refused to listen. Verse 3: Be quiet. Verse 5: Be quiet.
At Jericho, the pattern shifts. There are still the sons of the prophets watching from a distance (and probably ready to say “I told you so” if Elisha fails). But this time, they don’t point out the obvious to Elisha. And this time, Elisha makes a bold request, perhaps out of some anxiety that he won’t be able to fill the shoes of the great prophet:
9 When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken from you.” So Elisha answered, “Please, let me inherit two shares of your spirit.” 10 Elijah replied, “You have asked for something difficult. If you see me being taken from you, you will have it. If not, you won’t.” (2 Kings 2:9-10)
We have some of the same anxiety today. There are naysayers and detractors that have already written the obituary for the church in the 21st century. Church membership is declining. Church buildings are closing. The great revival preachers of the past have gone on to be with the Lord, and there doesn’t seem to be anyone taking their place. Instead, there seems to be story after story of megachurch pastors that have fallen.
Does God’s promise still stand? Is God’s power still manifest? Will God’s presence still be felt? We have the same questions Elisha did, and Joshua before him, and Jacob before him.
Are we bold enough to ask God for a double portion of His spirit? Certainly the times call for it. If there were ever a generation in need of a visible manifestation of God’s power, surely it is ours!
Elijah’s response to Elisha is Jesus’ response to us: Keep your eyes on your master. Don’t be distracted by the naysayers. If your eyes are focused on Me, then My power can be displayed through you. Just don’t lose sight of your Master.