Asking for a Hard Thing

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“As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” (2 Kings 2:2,4,6)

This morning, I see this statement spoken 3x. Who said it? To whom did he say it? Why? Where? When?

v. 1 tells us that the Lord was about to take Elijah to heaven in a whirlwind. Apparently, this journey started at Gilgal and ended in Jordan with 2 stops; Bethel and Jericho. At each stop, Elijah told Elisha to stay but Elisha insisted to go with him to the next one.

Elisha was to succeed Elijah as prophet (1 Kings 19:17). What big shoes to fill! Elijah battled against 450 prophets of Baal, 400 of Asherah, killed all of them and claimed victory for the Lord on Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18). Elisha wanted to stay with his master as long as he could.

At Bethel and at Jericho, the sons of the prophets asked Elisha:
“Do you know that today the Lord will take away your master from over you?” And 2x, he answered, “Yes, I know it; keep quiet.”

How would you feel if you knew your master and teacher, the man you’re to succeed would soon leave you? Twice, Elisha was reminded of this. But Elisha was focused on his goal. He knew what he wanted to do and he would not be distracted by this seemingly daunting fact.

When they reached Jordan, Elijah struck the water with his cloak and the water parted for them to cross over. When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.” And he said, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so.” (2 Kings 2:9-10)

God granted Elisha’s wish. And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 And Elisha saw it and he cried, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!”

And he took up the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan…. and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.

When the Lord calls, He equips. Elisha accepted the call staying close to his master as long as he could. He asked a seemingly ‘hard thing’ – that he be given 2x the spirit of his master… a double portion of whatever that Elijah had, his courage, his passion, perhaps even his depression/burnout? But God gave to Elisha what he asked for. Elisha did many miracles and mighty works for the Lord. Read all about it in 2 Kings 2-9.

Elisha was not taken to heaven in a whirlwind like Elijah. He died of sickness.

“So Elisha died, and they buried him. Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. And as a man was being buried, behold, a marauding band was seen and the man was thrown into the grave of Elisha, and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived and stood on his feet.” (2 Kings 13:20-21)

Elisha died. But even his dead bones revived a dead man.

Sometimes, God calls me to a hard task. What do I focus on? Resources that I deem important to do the task? To whom do I look for inspiration, courage and strength to do the job? How do I respond to the call? Do I dare ask God to give me a double portion of His Spirit? Do I put God in a box? Am I willing to ask for the seemingly impossible things that God might be calling me to do?

Life is meant to be lived by the grace and mercy of God. Each step is to be taken in faith and courage not by my own strength but only by the wisdom and power of the Spirit in me.

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