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When God Does Not Make Sense

TUESDAY 2 Kings 2:8-10
This week our devotions will center around the transition from Elijahs’s ministry to Elisha’s in 2 Kings 2, which culminates in the strange text in 2 Kings 2:23-25. This story brings up a difficult issue for Christians: Sometimes God does not make sense! These devotions come primarily from https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/2-kings-2/#top . The devotions will set the stage for this difficult text on which Melanie Ciccalese will preach next Sunday.

Sometimes God tests his people and it doesn’t make sense to us. Think of Abraham asked to sacrifice Isaac! Why are we tested? Sometimes God wants to know what is in our hearts or to humble us (Deut. 8:2). Or God wants to refine us (Jeremiah 9:7). James 1:3 says the testing of our faith produces endurance. Elisha is tested several times in this passage. Will he remain with Elijah? What will he ask for from Elijah? What would you do in his shoes?

2 Kings 2: 8-10
Now Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up, and struck the water; and it was divided this way and that, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground. And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?” Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” So he said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.”

a. Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up, and struck the water; and it was divided this way and that, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground: This was a strange and unique miracle on a day of strange and unique miracles. Elijah walked in the steps of Moses and Joshua as ones whom God used to miraculously part waters.

b. Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you: This was a big invitation, but Elisha had demonstrated his tenacity by refusing to leave his mentor.

i. “It was with the object of testing the spirit of his friend that the departing seer had urged him again and again to leave him. And it was only when Elisha had stood the test with such unwavering resolution that Elijah was able to give him this carte blanche.” (Meyer)

c. Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me: When invited to make a request, Elisha asked for a big thing – a double portion of the mighty spirit of Elijah. Elisha saw how greatly the Spirit of God worked through Elijah, and he wanted the same for himself.

i. He could have asked for anything, but he asked for this. “He sought neither wealth, nor position, nor worldly power; nor a share in those advantages on which he had turned his back for ever.” (Meyer)

ii. The idea of a double portion was not to ask for twice as much as Elijah had, but to ask for the portion that went to the firstborn son, as in Deuteronomy 21:17. Elisha asked for the right to be regarded as the successor of Elijah, as his firstborn son in regard to ministry. Yet Elisha had already been designated as Elijah’s successor (1 Kings 19:19). This was a request for the spiritual power to fulfill the calling he already received.

iii. It is worthwhile to consider if this was generally a good or a bad thing. Normally we don’t think of one person inheriting the ministry of another. The relation between Elijah and Elisha – and God’s apparent blessing on their ministries – shows that at least sometimes God intends one person to inherit the ministry of another.

d. If you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be for you: Elijah tested the devotion of his mentor by seeing if he would persistently stay with him through these last remarkable hours. If the devotion of Elisha remained strong through the testing, his request to be the successor of the first prophet would be fulfilled.