Elisha had been a faithful protégé and mentee to Elijah. Clearly, the faithful prophet had impacted Elisha deeply. The thought that his teacher and role model would be taken away was hard to accept. The account in 2 Kings 2 makes it seem like Elijah is trying to ease the pain of his departure. “Stay here. The Lord has sent me to Bethel.” “Stay here. The Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But each time, Elisha just wouldn’t let go of Elijah. The map shows that they walked at least some 25 miles that day. They arrived at the Jordan River where Elijah took off his cloak. Quite possibly, it was the same cloak that Elijah had thrown around Elisha’s shoulders as a sign to him that he was calling him to be his follower. He rolled it up, and struck the river. The water parted, right and left, so that the prophet and his balding sidekick walked across on dry ground. Whenever God parts a sea or river, it’s more than just a way to get around. It’s an event to look back to as a reminder of God’s power and presence in life. This was no exception.
Maybe it took a chariot of fire and horses of fire to separate Elisha from Elijah. I would probably step back at that point too! Whirlwind, flames, and Whooooosh! – Elijah became the 2nd person in history to go to Heaven without having to die. Elisha cried out and tore his clothes just the same as if Elijah had died. At some point in all the fire and whirlwind Elijah lost his cloak. He wasn’t going to need it anymore anyway. Once the dust settled and the sparks burned out, there lay the cloak. Elisha picked up the only visible remnant of his friend and headed back toward the river.
I picture Elisha was feeling pretty alone and frightened at this point. Elijah had endured all kinds of challenges as a faithful prophet, including threats against his life. He had promised a parting gift to his student. Elisha would inherit “a double portion of” Elijah’s spirit, whatever that means, though it would be “a difficult thing.” So, picture Elisha, standing at the riverbank with his clothing torn, lonely and scared, a needy person. Some kind of divine help at this point would be good.
Ever been there? Have you ever felt a sense of loss, loneliness, and need that no human being can cover? We try to avoid moments like that in life, but sometimes they’re thrust upon us by no fault of our own. Sometimes we’re standing there completely at our own doing. Either way, there will likely be some moments when we are much like Elisha was that day, feeling dazed and weak, and finding ourselves turning to the One we need more than any other. Elisha had seen God’s hand at work. He knew that God had done some amazing miracles through Elijah – He outran a chariot to Jezreel. He called down fire from Heaven in more than one situation, and prayed into existence a 3½ year drought, and then a downpour. Why, he had just parted the Jordan River with his cloak…
That cloak! Elisha struck the water. “Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” Can you hear the hopeful plea in that question? Can you hear the honest admission of need? It was time to put feet to faith. Does this work or not? Do I have what was promised to me or not? The water parted, just like before. The LORD, the God of Elijah was there, just like before, and Elisha crossed over the parted Jordan on dry ground, just like before. Elisha would go on from there to a ministry as another mighty servant for God.
I have found myself at crossroads in life when I ask Elisha’s question. It’s not out of doubt or anger. It’s simply what I end up saying when I need to see The FAITH proven real again. Have you been there? Have you ever been out on a ledge in life enough that you were “testing” The FAITH to see it’s real? Does this work? Will God really change this person’s heart? Will God really save this marriage? Will God really provide the money that’s needed here? Will God take my friend through this valley? Will God hold back the enemy here? Will God’s word really do its job and not return to Him empty as I share it? Or, are we too timid to ask such questions for fear that the answer may not be yes?
I’ll not presume to answer for God. But neither will I feel like it’s necessary to pre-excuse whatever course of action He chooses to take. The LORD, the God of Elijah and Elisha, is there, just like before. Don’t be afraid to call out to Him. Don’t doubt if this is for real. The FAITH will stand the test. God will be proven true, and another dazed servant will have whatever he needs to proceed to the good work God has for him to do. That servant may just be you today!