Elijah & Elisha Message #13 “Elisha’s Preparation for Ministry” Ed Miller, March 8, 2023

Listen to the audio above while following along in the transcript below, which is also available for download in Word at www.biblestudyministriesinc.com

As we come to look in God’s word, I remind my heart and yours that there is a principle of Bible study that is indispensable, total reliance on God’s Holy Spirit.  This is God’s book, and only God can show us the Lord Jesus in this book. We’re going to begin a new section this morning with Elisha and how God prepared him for his ministry.  I want to share this verse before I pray.  Jeremiah 15:19.  It’s only a portion of this verse, but it says, “If you extract the precious from the worthless, you will become my spokesman.”  Another translation says, “You will become My mouth.”  Elisha was in training.  He was not yet the mouth of the Lord, and we’re going to show how God separated him from the worthless, so that he could embrace the precious, so that he could become the mouth of the Lord. 

Let’s bow together and commit our time to the Lord.  Our Father, we begins with our brother David, and the circumstances in which he finds himself.  We know he’s trusting You and drawing from Your Life and relying on Your grace.  We thank you, Lord, that You know all about it.  You said in Psalm 119:91, that all things are Your servants, and that includes medical technology.  That’s Your servant.  We ask you, Lord, to be with the doctors and all of the staff that are dealing with our brother, and that the things he’s going through and all of the procedures, just give him grace and let him rest in You.  Lord, we know that You will work Your highest glory and David’s greatest good.  We commit our brother unto You for all the will of God.  Now, Lord, we commit our little session unto You, as well.  We know, Lord, that You desire us to see the Lord Jesus in a fresh way.  We ask You to open our eyes, our hearts, and incline our wills toward what You present.  I pray You’ll protect Your people from anything I might say that’s not from You.  We want to be taught of God, so we commit this session unto You.  In the matchless name of our Lord Jesus.  Amen.

Welcome all.  In our last study we completed what I called life after Horeb.  Elijah had turned from the Lord for a season, and then God restored him, at Mt. Sinai, Mt. Horeb.  We described what I called life after restoration.  What does our life look like after God restores us?  In his case, he took his eyes off the Lord, and looked to circumstances, and became very discouraged, but then the Lord dealt with him and back him back to himself.

We stood at Horeb when he was restored, and we took a telescopic view.  We looked all the way to the end of Elijah’s natural life.  We observed what life looks after God restores somebody.  Probably for Elijah it was another seven, eight or nine years, some say shorter and some say a little more than that.  We don’t know.  We picked up give principles; this is what life looks like after somebody turns back to the Lord and is fully restored.  I’m only going to mention them.  I’m not giving the reference.  I’m just going to recall those, and then we’ll move to our new material.

One who is fully restored, and this is was the observation of his whole life, we hardly read about him anymore.  It’s that truth from the New Testament, “He must increase, and I must decrease.”  After restoration, there’s more about the Lord and less about the person.  He faded away.  The second observation we made is that Elijah did not try to help God do His work.  God began the work, and Elijah let Him finish it.  He let Him do the follow-up.  The third observation, Elijah was not called on all the time.  God called on unnamed prophets, on the sons of the prophets, he called on someone called the man of God, he called on a king, and he called on different people, but Elijah was ready and available when God called on him.  The man and woman who has been fully restored is always available to be used of the Lord.

The fourth principle was that when someone is fully restored by the Lord, he’s not only available to be used, but he’s available to be used sometimes positively and sometimes negatively.  God is a lover, but He’s also a jealous lover.  We saw how Elijah submitted to the jealous love of God.  Sometimes he had to call down fire, and sometimes he was very compassionate.

Then our final principle as we closed, I was showing you how Elijah was so determined to cause Elisha not to cling to him in a fleshly way.  If you are fully restored, you’re not looking for a following, and you’re not trying to get disciples.  You have hands off the bride.  The bride belongs to the Lord and not to the servant of the Lord.  We are the best man, and are to facilitate the union of the bride and groom, but we’re not to try to get a following. 

Those five principles, if I’m fully restored I will fade away and He will increase.  If I’m fully restored, I won’t try to help God, and I’m going to stay out of the Godhead, and let God do what only God can do.  If I am fully restored, I’ll be available at any time.  It’s not so much, “Use me, Lord,” but it’s, “Make me usable, so when You want to use me, I can be used.”  When I’m fully restored to the Lord, it won’t matter if I have to take a rugged stand, and even lose friends, or if He uses me positively.  “Sometimes,” Micah,the prophet, said, “he’ll use you like dew, like refreshing showers, and other times like a lion that tears up.”  We are His remnant, and we’re willing to be used positively or negatively.  And finally, we’re not going to look for people to attach themselves to us.  We’re only the servants of the Lord.  We don’t want to start a ministry, a big following.  If I have disciples, it’s all to point people to the Lord.

Having review that, it brings us to what I’m going to call a transition from the prophet Elijah to the prophet Elisha, and we’re going to being, then, our special look at Elisha, the prophet.  This morning I’m going to focus on two stories, and we’re going to call this the preparation that God gave Elisha for the ministry, for his calling.  The first one is 1 Kings 19:19-21.  It’s only three verses, but that’s where it all begins.  The second story is in connection with Elijah’s rapture, when he’s being caught to heaven in that fiery chariot, and that’s 2 Kings 2:1-14.

His real ministry started after Elijah went to heaven, but that’s not saying that God didn’t use him before that, because He did.  2 Kings 3:11, “Jehoshaphat said, ‘Is there not a prophet of the Lord here, that we may inquire of the Lord by him?’  One of the king of Israel servants answered and said, ‘Elisha, the son of Shaphath, is here who used to pour water on the hands of Elijah.  So, his ministry before he was called to the ministry, was ministering to the saints, and especially to Elijah.  The ministry, his real ministry, had not yet begun, so here’s what we’re going to look at.  We’re going to call the whole thing Elijah preparation.  The first part is his initial preparation.  The second part is his final preparation.  Those are the two stories, how God first called him, and then how God finally prepared him.

I want to begin by reading the first three verses, the calling of Elisha.  1 Kings 19:19-21, “So, he departed from there and found Elisha, son of Shaphath, while he was plowing with twelve pair of oxen before him, he with the twelve.  And Elijah passed over to him and threw his mantel on him.  He left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, ‘Please, let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.’”  It’s those three wonderful verses.  I’m going to give the principle first.  I could have gone through that story and picked up the details, like I’m going to do.  I could have done that, and then said, “Here’s the principle,” but I think it’s more helpful if I give you the principle first, right up front.  I’m going to tell you what we’re heading for.  When God prepare somebody, and calls him to Himself, and when we say ministry, I’m talking about the Lord manifesting Himself through the life.  That’s ministry.  I’m not talking about some special calling.  I’m talking about the Lord fully manifesting Himself, so I’m going to state it right up front because when God calls you to Himself, or to allow Him to be manifest through you, it always, and no exception, it begins the way Elijah’s call began.  So, I want to focus on that.

The principle, and I’ll state it many ways, but it’s all the same, is total surrender.  That’s the principle.  Elisha, as we’ll see, had a complete forsaking of everything.  It was abandonment.  Talk about Elisha giving his all, this story tells how completely he relinquished everything to follow the call of the Lord, total submission, and nothing held back, total resignation; that’s the principle.  If we’re ever going to be used by the Lord, that’s how He prepares us with that yielding, that total submission.

It’s so amazing to read of this thorough and immediate response of Elisha to the call of God, where he renounced everything and went to just follow the Lord.  Before we looked at the story, because I gave the principle, when we describe the story, expect to see somebody like that, somebody who responded immediately and held nothing back, a complete, total, unqualified, comprehensive sweeping surrender.  That’s not the goal; that’s the starting point.  Many make that the goal.  It is not the goal.  If that’s all he has, he will not be fully prepared to let Christ flow throw him.  That’s why I’m giving the two stories; this is how it begins, but what is the final preparation?  May the Lord help us see that.

If I had to choose a New Testament to describe Elisha’s complete surrender, I think it would be Romans 12:1, “Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God to present you bodies a living and a holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”  It’s a living and a holy sacrifice; this is the initial response.  Again, by itself, complete surrender, no matter how total it is, is not final preparation.  So, we need to have our hearts open to that.  There’s got to be final preparation before they can be the free, full flow to the life of Christ.  We’ll come to that, but let’s begin with this call, and now we’ll look at some of the details.

I’m going to read it again, 1 Kings 19:15&16, and I’m going to start with God’s commission to Elijah, to anoint Elisha.  “The Lord said to him, ‘Go, and return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus, and when you have arrived, you’ll anoint Hazael king over Aram (Syria), Jehu, the son of Nimshi, as king over Israel, and Elisha, the son of Shaphath, of Abel-Moholah, you shall anoint as prophet in your place.”  That was the commission.  After he fully restored, Elijah was told to anoint two kings and to anoint this prophet.  We read in verse 16 where Elisha lived, where his farm was, where he was from.  In verse 16 we’re told that he was the son of Shaphath of Abel-Meholah.  I call attention to that because when you read the charge to Elijah, it looks like it happened right there on Mt. Horeb.  The first part of verse 19, “He departed from there,” that’s Horeb, “and found Elisha.”  It looks like that Elisha was just in the neighborhood, that he took a few steps and there was Elisha, and so he anointed him, but that’s not the case.  This place where Elisha was, was at least 160 miles away.  There’s no evidence that I can find that Elijah new Elisha.  We don’t know if Elijah knew Elisha.  There’s some speculation in the reverse.  Elisha seemed to know Elijah, because he had a reputation.  So, I can see how Elisha would know him.  2 Kings 1:8 describes him as a hairy man with a linen girdle.  People knew Elijah, but how would Elijah know Elisha?

There’s no Bible record, but I think the Lord guided him the 160 miles to his farm in Abel-Meholah, and I think when he went to the farm, don’t forget there were other servants, many people, and he went right up to Elisha and threw his mantel on him.  I don’t know how God did that, but I’m sure that God let Elijah know where to go, and who Elisha was.  If you look at that place, you’ll notice that it’s located on the east of the Jordan.  That may give you the idea that maybe Elisha was part of the two and a half tribes that never crossed over, the tribe of Gad or Ruben or half the tribe of Manasseh.  The commentators, I don’t know how much we can trust the commentators because they’re just flesh, but they with a united voice tell us that Elisha was from the tribe of Isachar.  I can’t find for the life of me where they get that.  One says it, and it’s like my library, I have a few voices and many echos, and some people say it, and then others repeat it.  I don’t know what tribe he was from.  If it’s from the location it would be from the half tribe of Manasseh.  So, the tribe doesn’t matter, but where his farm is does matter.

There doesn’t seem to be any contradiction among the commentators that looking at this record that Elisha was from a well-to-do family; he was rich.  At least he had that family.  Verse 19, “He departed from there, found Elisha, the son of Shaphath, while he was plowing with twelve pairs of oxen.”  That twelve pairs, twelve yoke of oxen, a yoke is just a wooden frame that holds two or more animals, and in this care we know they’re two because they were in pairs.  Twelve pairs of oxen is twenty-four oxen, so you’ve got twelve plows and twelve pairs of oxen and servants working each one, and that tells us, perhaps, that Elisha was from a well-to-do family; they had a field that big and that many servants and that many oxen.  It’s important because, as I suggested, Elisha is about to turn his back on the whole farm, on the whole possibility of his future and his wealth.  In his response to the call, he walks away from a very lucrative situation.

It’s interesting to read the last part of verse 19, “…and Elijah passed over to him, and threw his mantel on him, and he was working with the twelfth pair of oxen.”  That gives a little insight into Elisha’s character.  Before he was called of God through Elijah, he wasn’t sitting on some lazy boy with his feet propped up watching TV.  He was out in the field; he was behind the plow and was working with the servants.  He wasn’t a lazy, rich kid.  When God called him, he was out in the field plowing.  I don’t think that morning when he woke up, that he thought, “Boy, I hope God calls me today.  I’ve been wanting to be a prophet and I’m getting sick of this plow, and I hope I can retire this very day.”  He was a man of character.  He got up, did what you do, and then he went to work. He was faithful before he was called.  That reminds me of the words of our Lord Jesus in Matthew 25:21, “His master said to him, ‘Well done God and faithful slave.  You were faithful with a few things, and I’ll put you in charge of many things.’”  He was faithful in a few things, and God is going to put him in charge of many things. 

I don’t know the answer to this question, but I wonder as I go through the Bible, if God ever called a lazy person to manifest Him.  I don’t know.  I know when God called Moses, he was out tending the sheep, and when He called Gideon, he was busy sifting the grain and making bread, and David was tending sheep, as well, and Amos was out in the field picking sycamores, and in the New Testament, Peter and John were on the fishing boats, Matthews was busy collecting taxes, and even Paul was busy persecuting Christians but he wasn’t sitting around.  We know Abraham was a herdsman, and Joseph, the step-father of Jesus was a carpenter, and Aquila was a tent maker, and Lydia was a seamstress, people who were involved in the secular world.  Lillian said to not forget Martha; she was a cook.  We don’t have the background of everybody.  Mary, the mother of Jesus, I don’t know her background, but I’m pretty sure she wasn’t lazy.  We don’t know the background of Barnabus or Mark or somebody like that, but clearly Elisha was not lazy.  He was out in the field plowing, and that is not easy work.

1 Kings 19:19&20, “When Elijah passed over, he threw his mantel on him,” and then it says, “and Elisha left the oxen and ran after Elijah.”  He had to release himself from the plow; Elijah kept going.  He threw the mantel on him, and he kept going.  Elisha knew all that it meant, and he unhooked himself, and he had to chase him down.  That’s how earnest Elisha was to respond to this call.  There’s little doubt that Elisha that he understood what that mantel meant.  I don’t how he knew, but that response tells me that he knew exactly what was happening, and he said to Elijah, “Let me go and kiss my parents goodbye, and then I will come and follow after you.” 

It doesn’t look like Elisha was interested in details.  He cast his mantel, and he’s up and at it.  I think if it were me, I would have said, “Wait, wait, wait, that’s a serious thing you’re doing here, throwing that mantel on me.  I know what that means.  I need a little more information.  Let me interview you, Elijah.  If I start following you, let me ask you, “Where do you live?”  “Oh, out in the wilderness.”  “That sounds exciting, so I’ll probably have to be associated with you in the wilderness, okay.  What do you eat?”  “Oh, God provided through the ravens.”  “I know what ravens bring.  I’m going to have eat that?  And you say that one time God called you to feed on the last meal of a widow and her son just before they died?  Do you eat anything else?”  “Locust and wild honey and anything.”  Elijah didn’t ask those questions,  Elijah said, “Alright, I’ll leave all of this wealth and I’ll go live in the wilderness and eat whatever the Lord provides.  Tell me, how do you spend your time?  Oh, you say that the king and queen are out to kill you, so you spend a lot of time hiding.  Alright, this is where you’re calling me.  This sounds like a great calling.  Tell me about your family, what about your wife and kids.  Oh, you don’t have a wife and you don’t have children.  I’m not married, am going to be able..” 

If he had examined him, I wonder if he would have been so quick.  Do you see the point I’m trying to make, that Elisha was so ready for that call, and when that mantel fell on him, he knew what it meant, and there were no questions asked.  He said, “Let me kiss my parents goodbye and I’m out of here.”  So, that’s what Elisha did.  He got out of bed, got dressed, ate breakfast, and went to work, an ordinary day, that didn’t turn out too ordinary.  That turned into an extraordinary day, and Elisha would never be the same after this day.  After that mantel fell on him, there was a change forever.  He’s got a choice, “I can stay here with my hand on this plow and all it represents, or I can take my hands off this plow and put my hands on another plow, and all that represents.”  And you know the decision he made; it was a complete surrender. 

It’s almost impossible to read this story and not contrast him with the rich, young ruler in the New Testament.  Mark 10:21&22, “Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, ‘One thing you lack; go sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and you’ll have treasure in heaven, and come and follow Me.’  But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.”  What a contrast, sad and went away grieving.  That’s not the case with Elisha.   Verse 21, “He returned from following him, and he took the pair of oxen, sacrificed them, and boiled their flesh with the implements of the oxen, gave it to the people, and they ate, and then he arose and followed Elijah and ministered to him.”  He took the pair of oxen that was his team, and the Bible says that he sacrificed them.  He took the implements that he was using, the yoke made out of wood and probably wooden parts of the plow and the harness and whatever tools he had that were wooden, and he made a fire, an altar.  That was his heart.  He was sacrificing all, and walking away from everything: the oxen, the plow, the place, the farm, the family, his parents, everything.

We know what our Lord Jesus said to Peter when Peter reminded Jesus, “We’ve given up everything,” Mark 10:28, “Peter began to say, ‘Behold, we’ve left everything and followed you.’  Jesus said, ‘Truly, I saw to you, there’s no one who has left house, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, children or farms for My sake, and for the gospel’s sake, that he’ll receive a hundred times as much now in this present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms along with persecution, and in the age to come, eternal life.’”  I love that comment that those who surrender that way will receive a hundred fold more than that in this present age.  Some people have the idea, “I’m going to get blessed, in the sky by and by when I die,” but what about now in the here and now?  In this present life Jesus promises an enlarged family, more brothers, more sisters, more mothers, more fathers, more farms. 

I thank the Lord for the blessing that He’s given my Lillian and myself.  That promise has become more than true.  We have houses all over the world.  We don’t own them; I don’t have to pay taxes.  I just enjoy them.  We can go anywhere in this country.  We have friends that would invite us in and welcome us in.  I’ve got brothers and sisters, the excellent of the earth, right in this room.  I’ve got new brothers and new sisters, mothers and fathers, and it’s in this life, our life in this life is so blessed.  Of course, He adds with persecution, but that’s part of the blessing once your eyes are opened. 

I speak as a fool for what I’m about to say, because this is not Bible and it’s not true, but it’s true in my heart.  Even if there were no heaven at the end, even if it ended in the grave, and you know it doesn’t, but even if it did, I’d be a Christian just for this life, just for the blessings that God has dumped on us in this life.  We are in union with the most precious people on the earth, and it’s all by underserved grace.  That’s what follows a complete surrender.

Elisha’s surrender was not only immediate and complete, but when you read the record, the Bible calls when he offered the oxen, as a sacrifice.  He not only sacrificed the oxen, but the entire farm.  The oxen were not a living sacrifice.  They were quite dead.  They became ashes and food and smoke.  They were a dead sacrifice.  That’s why I called attention to Romans, because what we look at, “He surrendered and he sacrificed,” no, he sacrificed the oxen, but he offered himself.  His was an offering and not a sacrifice.  That’s why it’s called a living sacrifice, because it was an offering.  Elisha, when he made that offering, through a party.  Don’t forget that we’re in the office, we’re in the field, we’re in the factory, he’s at work.  Verse 21, “He returned from following him, and took the pair of oxen, and sacrificed them, and boiled their flesh with the implements of the oxen, and gave it to the people and they ate.  That’s a celebration, a party.  He’s throws a party.  He’s called by God, and he gives up everything, and he sacrifices that, but he offers himself and he’s rejoicing.  There’s not sadness in this surrender.  It’s all full of joy.

I’ve heard testimonies that use the words of Elisha’s sacrifice and offering, but somehow it lacked the joy.  I didn’t hear the joy.  I’ve heard people say, and I’m not judging them, their heart could be pure as the driven snow, but I’ve heard them say, “I could have been rich, and I could have been a doctor, and I could have been a lawyer, could have been a CEO of same great company.  I gave up a life, and I could have been an athlete, a famous athlete, or some sort of a politician, but I laid it aside to follow the Lord.  I ended up going on a mission field some place,” and so on.  I’m not knocking that testimony, but I’m only saying that I don’t hear the same kind of joy in that, “Oh, I gave this up, but I’m following the Lord,” as I hear when I read this, that right in the middle of the work day, he killed the animals and he gathers the servants and says, “Let’s eat and let’s celebrate; God has called me.”  It’s sort of like what Matthew did in the New Testament after the Lord called him.  He just threw a party of all of his friends.  When Paul became that living sacrifice, he gave his testimony.  Philippians 3:7&8, “Whatever things were gain to me, those I’ve counted loss, for the sake of Christ.  More than that, I count all things loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I’ve suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” 

My wife keeps stuff; she collects everything.  You come to our house, it’s just full of stuff, but it’s not rubbish.  She’s quick to get rid of rubbish, and it goes out.  When God opens your eyes and you have His value system, and you see things as He sees it, what the New American calls rubbish, KJV calls dung.  I don’t know anyone that would have a struggle getting rid of dung, but if you’re looking at the farm, and that’s security and that’s wealth and that’s future and that’s gold and that’s silver and that’s precious, you are going to have hard time letting go.  But when God calls you, He opens your eye and you’ll finally see.  Here’s this world and it’s fading away quickly.  Here’s what He’s calling me to, and you have a new value system. 

Again, Elijah’s call was immediate, complete, thorough, and joyful, a living sacrifice and offering.  He arose and he followed Elijah.  That’s in this initial preparation, that kind of a surrender.  2 Kings 3:11, as I said, he used to pour water on the hands of Elijah.  That’s not saying that there’s no ministry.  During the next six years, seven or eight years, that total surrender will get you that far, and you’ll be able to refresh and minister to the saints, and so on.  That act of pouring describes a very humble service.  When that mantel fell on him, he didn’t become a preacher at that moment.  He didn’t become a teacher or an evangelist, and he wasn’t a prophet right away.  He didn’t write books, “I’m traveling with Elijah, I think I’ll write a memoir and tell you what it’s like to travel with a man like that.”  He didn’t write some biography of Elijah.  He just ministered from day to day and washed his hands, and whatever he needed.  That’s what Jesus described in Matthew 20:26, “Whoever wishes to become great among you, let him be the servant.”  That was Elisha.  He was a servant, humble, surrendered, and dedicated.

We are about to look at the ministry of Elisha and when it began, and it started with that kind of complete surrender, but is there something beyond surrender, that kind of surrender?  Indeed, there is!  That’s what we’re going to look at now, and just pray that the Lord will give you understanding, and open your heart to see this final preparation.

I want to review what we looked at last week, in order to get to the heart of this.  I’m talking about Elisha’s unhealthy attachment to Elijah.  He had been Elijah, the fully restored man of God, we don’t have all the information of what their lives were like together, but we know that Elijah was back in the presence of the Lord, was enjoying the exchanged life, and Elisha was observing.  He was serving every day, every moment of the day.  There’s no question that he was impressed.  Elisha was impressed with Elijah.  He was moved and he was attracted to such a life.  He was totally surrendered himself, and he looked at Elijah and he said, “Wow, I’m surrendered, but I don’t look like that.”  The more he saw, the more he desired, and he learned that Elijah was soon going to be taken away.  That bothered him, and that was difficult.  He didn’t want that.  He had been living for six or seven or eight years, and he did not want that.  That was bad news for him.  

So, he began to cling, and read at the end, that last mile, when Elijah was about to be caught away, 2 Kings 2;1&2, “It came about when the Lord was about to take up Elijah by a whirlwind to heaven, Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal, and Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Stay here, please.  The Lord has sent me as far Bethel.’  But Elisha said, ‘As the Lord lives, and you yourself live, I will not leave you.’  So, they went down to Bethel.  When they got to Bethel he repeated it.  Verse 4, “Elijah said to him, ‘Elisha, please stay here.  The Lord has sent me to Jericho.’  He said, ‘As the Lord lives, as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’  So, they sent to Jericho.”  So, then when they got to Jericho, verse 6, “Elijah said, ‘Please, stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Jordan.’  And he said, ‘As the Lord lives and you yourself live, I will not leave you.’  So, the two of them went on.” 

When they arrived at the Jordan, you remember Elijah made this comment to Elisha, verse 9, “When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Ask what I shall do for you before I’m taken,’ and Elisha said, ‘Please, let a double portion of your spirit be on me.’”  “Elisha, what can I do for you before I leave?”  “I want to be like you.  I’ve been looking at you, and I’ve been watching you, and I’ve been following, and I know you tried to shake me off on this last mile, but I want to be like you.  I want your spirit, not only that, I want double your spirit.  I want to be like you.  I’ve watched you, I’ve admired you, I’ve served you, I’ve been humble, I’ve been your servant, and I want to be just like you, and I want a double portion of your spirit.” 

Listen to Elijah’s response, verse 10, “You’ve asked a hard thing.  Nevertheless, if you see me when I’m taken from you, it shall be so, but if not, it shall not be so.”  What did Elijah mean when he said, “If you see me when I’m taken, you’ll get your request, otherwise you won’t.  Let me paraphrase it in my own understanding of what he said.  I think Elijah was saying something like this, “Elisha, you’ve been a great friend.  I’m so thankful for you as a friend, and you have been watching and been focused on me and been observing me, but in a surface way.  I wonder if you’ve ever seen me, Elisha.  I know you’ve seen me.  You’ve seen the man who is hairy, and the man with the linen girdle.  You’ve seen me and some of the ministry that I’ve had, but you have you ever really seen me?  Do you know what makes me tick?  Can you explain my life?  Have you actually seen me?  God knows the desire of your heart, and when you ask for a double portion of My spirit, He’s going to answer that, if you can see and focus, this last preparation has to do with vision, has to do with focus, has to do with eye sight.  Elijah knows what’ coming.  Elijah is saying, “Don’t get distracted.”  I’ll fill in, even if a dark funnel forms in the sky and comes roaring toward you.

Has anybody ever seen a tornado?  I can’t imagine if a tornado came roaring at me that I wouldn’t turn around and look at it.  I think I would be distracted.  I might be distracted and even take out a camera and take a picture, but stay focused, not matter what happens and no matter who comes into your life, keep focused on me, and if you are able to see me, God will grant your gift.  Your heart’s desire will be fulfilled, and you’ll get the portion of the first-born, the double portion, but everything depends on if you see me.

I can’t imagine what Elisha expected to see.  I’m quite sure he didn’t think, “Oh, maybe God is going to come in a fiery chariot and carry him away.”  That’s not on his mind.  I think it’s more accurate that maybe he’s going to have a heart attack and fall down dead in front of me.  I don’t know.  He know he’s going to leave, but he has no clue what’s about to happen.  He’s promised a double portion if he doesn’t take his eyes off of him, and I just picture him staring, looking, gazing, “I don’t care what comes, and I don’t care what noise is behind me, I don’t care anything, and I’m just going to keep focused.”

You know the story, verse 11&12, “As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, horses of fire, which separated the two of them, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven.”  This next part, “Elisha saw it, and cried out, ‘My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen,’ and he saw Elijah no more.”  The whirlwind came and Elisha refused to be distracted.  When Elijah was on Mt. Horeb, remember that there was wind, and God wasn’t in the wind.  There was fire, and God wasn’t in the fire.  That’s because He pictured the wind as destructive and the fire as consuming.  Now there’s wind and fire again, but this time God is in, because the wind here speaks about speed, and fire speaks about light, and not destruction.  When Elisha saw it, he cried out, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel.  I finally understand.”  His eyes were opened wide, and when he saw that happen, he goes, “Whoa, look what God did!”  That was the defense of the nation.  The chariots and the horses, that was the defense.  When a Godly man dies, a Godly woman dies, the nation is going down.  The nation depends upon the Godly people that live in it.  His eyes were opened, and he said, “I see that the whole nation depended on this man, and now I see and I’ve understood.”

Let me give you the final principle.  This is final preparation.  The spiritual significance comes from a study we had earlier, the mantel.  I want to go back to that, because this scene with Elijah ascending to heaven is very symbolic.  I’m not saying it’s not literal; it’s literal and it happened, and it’s actual.  But it also pictures.  I told you last week what I thought it pictured.  One of the things was that only God can separate somebody who is clinging to another person.  It pictured that.  And I’m quite sure it pictures what we call the rapture that not all of us will die when Jesus returns.  Some will be alive, and this being caught up is a picture of the rapture, but that’s not the main significance of this catching up.

Its chief instruction prefigures the ascension of our Lord Jesus and the sending down of the Holy Spirit.  When Elijah went up, the mantel came floating down.  When our Lord Jesus went up, He said that it was expedient that I go; I’m going to send you the Holy Spirit.  And I showed you the five ways that mantel pictured the Holy Spirit of God.  Let me put that together and give you this final principle.

Final preparation is not me surrendering my life; it’s me appropriating His life.  Do you see what I’m saying?  It’s not the same thing.  Initial preparation is me surrendering me.  It’s me offering me, a living sacrifice, and that will take you along way.  That will take you many years, and you’ll have some ministry, but the final principle that’s going to bring you into the flow of the manifestation of Christ in your life, when you become the mouth of God, and the spokesman of the Lord.  Elisha had that explanation; he saw that it was not Elijah, it was not his spirit, and it was not a double portion of his spirit.  He looked at Elijah and saw him for the first time, and he didn’t say, “It must have been his personality.”  I don’t know what Elijah’s personality was, but I don’t think it was that great.  It wasn’t his gifts.  “No one could do what I just beheld, come in a fiery chariot in a whirlwind and take a man of God and carry him up to heaven. 

The only explanation for that is God.”  And for the first time, I think, Elisha saw the explanation.  He’s focused, and he said, “There’s no other explanation for the life I’ve seen for the last seven years except God.”  The first time that mantel fell on him, what do we read this time?  Verse 13, “He also took up the mantel of Elijah that fell from him.”  When the mantel falls on you, you surrender.  Have you ever picked it up?  That’s final preparation.  That which pictured the Holy Spirit, he began to lay hold of that for himself, and he picked the life of God in symbol form, and he no longer said that I want your spirit and I want a double portion.  He picked up the mantel, and he said, “Where is the God of Elijah.”  That’s where he was now focused, and that’s final preparation, when you finally hold of the Holy Spirit, and you say, “Where is the God of Elijah?”  He saw what made Elijah the man of God that he was.

As I said, when the mantel falls on you when you first get saved, you think it’s all about surrender.  Everything was clear when he took hold of that mantel.  His cry is now, “Where is the God of Elijah?”  And now ministry begins.  Verse 2 Kings 2:14, “He struck the waters, and they were divided here and there, and Elisha crossed over.”  Now the way has opened up, and now he has crossed over, and now his ministry begins, and we’re going to see that ministry begin.

Some Christians can’t get beyond initial preparation, beyond the starting point.  They think the whole Christian life is just surrender.  They say, “Well, I’ve surrendered.”  Well, do it some more.  You need to surrender more.  You need to die to self.  You need to have the cross.  You need to continue to die to self.  When things go wrong, you say, “You aren’t totally surrendered.  You’re holding something back.  You’ve got to keep surrendering and surrendering.”  They never get beyond that, “Just let go, and let God.”  That’s the Christian life, “Let go and let God.”  Then you mess up and you say, “Well, I’ve got to rededicate myself.  I dedicate and rededicate, and I give my life again, and I confess, and I get up, and I start again, and I fall, and I confess, and I repent and I come back, and I just surrender, and surrender and surrender.” 

Your surrender took place two thousand years ago when Jesus died on the cross.  You were dead with him.  That part is over, finished, done, through; it’s complete.  What remains now, not that you surrender you.  That doesn’t go away.  You can’t have final preparation without initial preparation.  You are going to stay surrendered, and keep being an offering, but now you’ve moved from me giving me to me appropriating Him.  I’m taking His life now.  When the Christian picks up that mantel, when a Christian gets hold of the Holy Spirit, when He begins to see that Life of God, he graduates from surrender to appropriating the Life of God.  Until that happens, I’ll never be God’s mouthpiece in the full flow of His redemptive purposes.  He’ll still use me now and then.  I’m not saying that, but I’m not going to experience what we call the exchanged life.

One last time, let me read verse 14, “He took the mantel of Elijah that fell from him, struck the waters and said, ‘Where’s the Lord, the God of Elijah,” and when he had struck the waters, they were divided here and there and Elisha crossed over. Have you responded to the mantel?  It fell on you.  Are you surrendered?  Let me ask you this, have you picked it up?  Have you appropriated His Life, because nothing is going open up, and you’re not going to cross over?  You’ve got to graduate from surrender.  It’s a good starting point.  It’s not you surrendering you.  It’s you appropriating Him.  May God help us!  Next week, Lord willing, we’re going to start looking then at the ministry of one who knows how to use the mantel.

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your word, not what we think we know it means, but everything You’ve inspired it to mean.  We want You to work that in our hearts.  Lord, we just pray that You might prepare us thoroughly to be Your instruments, so that Your Life can flow through us and You can minister.  We thank you, Lord, that we can trust You for this.  Nothing is too hard for You.  We pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.