Up, Up, and Away
2 Kings 2:1-15; Prophets and Kings, pp. 225-228
God’s grace is the gift of eternal life.
“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
But I don’t want to go to bed!” complained Burt to his older sister.
“You know we need to rest,“ Martha answered. ”We always will in this life. But when we get to heaven, we won’t need to rest the way we do now.”
“How do you know?” asked Burt.
“Let me tell you what I read in the Bible about Elijah and Elisha. Then you will understand too.”
God had something wonderful planned for Elijah. God wanted to take him straight to heaven without dying first. This was a special honor that God had given to only one other person—Enoch.
Elisha was Elijah’s assistant. Elisha knew that soon the prophet Elijah would end his work and it would be Elisha’s time to carry on. Many of the prophets who worked with them also knew that Elijah would soon be leaving them. God’s gentle voice had told them so.
One day Elijah took Elisha on a last journey to visit God’s schools of the prophets. The prophets in these schools were asking Elisha, “Did you know God is going to take Elijah today?”
“Yes, I know,” Elisha said. The thought of losing Elijah the prophet filled Elisha with sad ness. He was probably a little nervous about taking over Elijah’s work, too.
Elijah also knew he would soon be leaving Elisha. So he gave his helper a test. At each school they visited, Elijah told Elisha, “Stay here. I need to go on.”
But each time Elisha insisted on going too. He didn’t want to let Elijah out of his sight. He wanted to be with him till the last moment. “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you,” Elisha said. So the two of them walked on.
Soon they came to the Jordan River. Elijah took off his coat, rolled it up, and hit the water with it. The water parted, and the two men walked across on dry ground. On the other side it was time to say goodbye. “What can I do for you before I am taken from you?” Elijah asked Elisha.
Elisha could have asked for a lot of things. He could have asked for money. He could have asked to be famous. But instead he asked for a special blessing. “Let me inherit a double portion of your Spirit,” he answered. He knew that the only way he could do the work he had been called to do was with extra help from God.
“If you see me when I am taken up from you, it will be yours; otherwise not,” Elijah said, and they kept walking.
Then suddenly a chariot and horses of fire appeared and separated the two men. Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha called after him, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” But Elijah was gone. Elisha tore his clothes to show his sorrow at losing his teacher and friend.
Then Elisha saw Elijah’s coat where it had fallen. He picked it up and walked back to the Jordan River. Rolling up the coat, Elisha hit the water with it, just as Elijah had done. Again the waters parted, and Elisha walked across on dry ground. God had indeed given Elisha the gift of His Spirit.
God wants to give us good gifts, too. His very best gift is the gift that He gave Elijah, the gift of eternal, forever life. And like Elisha, we have to ask for the gift. We have to keep our eyes on Jesus. And we have to believe our prayers have been answered and act in faith. We have to believe just as Elisha did when he hit the water with Elijah’s coat.