Bible Readings for October 21st
Yahweh had sent Elisha to assist Elijah when the elder prophet suffered from severe spiritual depression (1 Kgs. 19:19–21). Through an apprenticeship process, Elisha has been preparing to replace his master once Elijah departs into glory. So, in 2 Kings 2, we read about the final steps Elisha must take in order to take over the ministry of his master.
First, Elisha unwaveringly follows his master through this last journey. Not only does Elijah test Elisha three times, asking his apprentice to stay behind rather than going with him to Bethel, Jericho, and the Jordan (2 Kgs. 2:2, 4, 6), the sons of the prophets also twice warn Elisha that Yahweh is about to take his master from him (2 Kgs. 2:3, 5). Elisha knows that he is heading to face sorrow at the loss of Elijah, but he nevertheless accompanies his master all the way to the end.
Second, Elisha asks Elijah for a “double portion of your spirit on me” (2 Kgs. 2:9), which is the language of inheritance. In those days, the firstborn had a right to receive a double portion of the inheritance (Deut. 21:17), which meant that the firstborn would receive two shares of the inheritance, while all the other brothers would receive a single share. In this way, the inheritance would not be completely fragmented in every generation, but a single leader could primarily carry on the family name. Elisha, then, is asking to carry on the ministry of Elijah after his master’s departure.
Third, once Elisha witnesses Elijah depart into heaven on the chariot, it quickly becomes clear that Yahweh’s Spirit has set apart Elisha to carry on Elijah’s ministry. When Elisha returns to the Jordan, he asks, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” and strikes the river with Elijah’s cloak (2 Kgs. 2:14). In this question, Elisha is asking whether Yahweh would now be God to him as he had been God to Elijah. When the water parts to one side—just as it had when Elijah struck the water with his cloak a little earlier (2 Kgs. 2:8)—Elisha knows that Yahweh has indeed commissioned him to continue the prophetic ministry that Elijah began.
The church cannot neglect the necessity of training up the next generation of leaders, and on the flip side, those who aspire to become the next generation of leaders need to follow closely after those who have led the way before them. Jesus’ own method of training leaders was to travel with them, teach them, and actually send them to do ministry under his tutelage (e.g., Luke 10:1–12), so that Jesus models the same ministry mentorship that we see in the relationship between Elijah and Elisha. Pray for today’s Elijahs devoted to training the next generation of leaders, and for today’s Elishas to be faithful in being trained.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.