Bible passage: 2 Kings 2
I wanted to come back to 2 Kings with Elijah and Elisha after writing Shades of Grey is the New Black. The story of this mentor and his disciple (student) is fascinating. However, there is an aspect going on in the story that I would like to show you as well.
In the time of Elijah, and even Jesus' time, a master-disciple relationship was very common in religious communities. Usually, the masters (mentors) only took on one long term student at a time. The student had to be fully devoted to learning everything the master taught. Elisha was fully committed to learning everything Elijah could teach him. However, Elisha wasn't prepared for that relationship to end when it did.
Three times Elijah told his student that God was sending him somewhere. Elisha knew his master was about to be taken away in a whirlwind. How? The Peanut Gallery called the sons of the prophets. These know-it-alls were tell-it-alls, too; they didn't know when to keep their mouths shut. They also didn't seem to have the level of faith shown in Elijah and Elisha because their fathers who were prophets lived in the corruption left by King Ahaziah. It showed. Three times, Elisha refused to leave his teacher. Three times he told the Peanut Gallery to shut up.
After the third time, the sons of the prophets--50 of them-- stood across the Jordan to watch, while Elijah parted the Jordan and the two of them crossed on dry ground. Remind you of another Bible time? Yes, there was a parting of the water for those two. The Peanut Gallery wanted a front row seat to see what was about to happen. Their time and breath was not wasted. I think they learned more after seeing the fire burn up the soldiers sent to Elijah in 1 Kings, what God says He means. In an odd way, they were unofficial pupils of Elijah.
Elisha probably didn't feel ready to go it alone. He asked for a double portion of Elijah's spirit to rest on him. What that meant was he wanted to be just like Elijah! His request was granted because he was able to see his teacher leave. God made sure Elisha couldn't follow him. A chariot of fire swept between them before the whirlwind took Elijah. Elisha was grieved at his loss.
After a moment, Elisha picked up his mentor's cloak, struck the water with it (feature a towel snap sort of thing), and asked God where He was. God answered by parting the water. Elisha knew that the power to perform miracles was from God, not Elijah. None of the things Elijah did was by his own power, but by God's. I do believe this disciple paid attention to the important stuff. This was no magic show.
The 50 sons of the prophets, though, missed a class or two. They offered to search the area for Elijah! What in the world were they thinking? I would flunk them in Prophets 101. At first, Elisha refused. But when they kept pestering to search, he let them. Some people need to find out for themselves, don't they? They hunted for Elijah for three days, then came back to Elisha empty-handed. Elisha simply said, "Didn't I tell you to not go?" These men had seen too many magic shows by the false prophets, I'm afraid.
Elisha had indeed received the Spirit of the Lord (the spirit of Elijah for which he had asked for a double portion) and performed miracles. Now here is a sad thing that you shall notice: whenever someone ministers in the Name of the Lord, there will be scoffers, mockers, and nay-sayers. As he was leaving the city, some teens started harassing him. "Go up, Baldy!" was a taunt referencing Elijah being taken up to Heaven in the whirlwind. By the way, there were 42 of them and one of Elisha. Elisha cursed them and they were mauled by two mama bears! Ouch! Maybe they should have picked on someone their own size. One passage I have shared with someone harassing my family when my first husband was a pastor comes from 1 Chronicles 16:22, "Saying, “Do not touch My anointed ones, And do My prophets no harm.” Picking on God's servants means coming up against God.
There are some things to take home with you from this passage:
1. God doesn't want us to follow a pastor or teacher. He wants us to follow Him.
2. Not everyone who uses the Word of God understands it. Be sure to understand it.
3. Everything we do in the Name of the Lord can only happen by His power, not our own. Always be sure what you do for Him is from Him.
4. Sitting under the teaching of a good pastor or teacher is a blessing.
5. Never bad-mouth God's servants. You will not be blessed as a result.
Take the time to read the passage yourself when you get a chance. It's full of good stuff for life.
May God bless you!