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When God Does Not Make Sense

WEDNESDAY 2 Kings 2:11-13
In 1 Kings 19:19, Elijah interrupts Elisha and his plowing by throwing Elijah’s mantle over him. Elisha runs after him and becomes his servant. We don’t know why he leaves his former life to follow Elijah but his abrupt switch is reminiscent of the disciples who respond immediately to Jesus’ call: Follow me.
God’s call rarely makes sense at the time, and requires us to leave our former lives and to take on the great responsibility of choosing God’s will over our own.

2 Kings 2: 11-13
Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces. He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan.

a. As they continued on and talked: “What sublime themes must have engaged them, standing as they did on the very confines of heaven, and in the vestibule of eternity! The apostasy of Israel and its approaching doom; the ministry just closing, with its solemn warnings; the outlook towards the work upon which Elisha was preparing to enter – these and cognate subjects must have occupied them.” (Meyer)

b. Suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven: This was a strange and unique miracle. As the two prophets walked, some fiery object separated the two of them and then carried Elijah up to heaven.

i. “It was meet that a whirlwind-man should sweep to heaven in the very element of his life… What a contrast to the gentle upward motion of the ascending Saviour!” (Meyer)

ii. “Elijah was taken up to heaven in the whirlwind, not in the chariot of fire and horses of fire which merely ‘came between the two of them’ (Hebrew) and cut him off from human sight. These chariots and horsemen symbolized strong protection as well as the forces of God’s spiritual presence which were the true safety of Israel.” (Wiseman)

c. My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen: With these words Elisha recognized the true strength of Israel. “Elisha saw that the strength of Israel had been that of the presence of the prophet of God. It is more than a coincidence that when presently Elisha himself passed away, Joash, the reigning king, uttered the same exclamation (13:14).” (Morgan)

i. “Who by thy example, and counsels, and prayers, and power with God, didst more for the defense and preservation of Israel, than all their chariots and horses, or other warlike provisions.” (Poole)

ii. This was the end of a remarkable ministry, one that was in many ways similar to the ministry of Moses. Both Moses and Elijah:

· Stood alone for righteousness.
· Were associated with fire upon mountains and the desert.
· Met God on Sinai.
· Were chased out of their countries by pagan rulers.
· Knew God’s miraculous provision for food and water.
· Wandered in the desert for a period measured by 40 and fasted for 40 days.
· Were powerful examples of praying men.
· Parted waters.
· Had close associates who succeeded them and successors who parted waters also.
· Had mysterious or strange deaths.

d. And Elisha saw it: This fulfilled the requirement mentioned in 2 Kings 2:10. Elisha would indeed inherit the prophetic ministry of Elijah. Yet Elisha wasn’t happy when this happened; he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces as an expression of deep mourning.

e. He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him: Since the mantle was the special mark of a prophet, this was a demonstration of the truth that Elisha truly had inherited the ministry of Elijah.

i. Think of what it was like for Elisha to pick up that mantle. The mantle did not fall from heaven and rest on his shoulders; he had to decide to pick it up and put it on. He had to decide: Do I really want to put this on? Elijah’s ministry was one of great power, but also of great pressure and responsibility.