A Chariot of Fire
“As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, ‘Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!’ But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.”
- 2 Kings 2:11-12
Many of us learned the song. “Swing Low” as children in Sunday School class. If anyone thought the bible was boring, they need only to read this story of the prophet Elijah. His life was anything from boring! And while his life was not boring, neither was his departure from this world. Prior to Elijah, all of God’s great leaders had left this world just like anyone else. They died. But God had a different plan for Elijah, just as the Lord used the life of Elijah differently than any other leader prophet before him so God would take him home differently than any other prophet.
As Elisha and Elijah stood together a chariot of fire and horses came between them. Elijah was taken up to heaven in the whirlwind while Elisha was left to watch. Surely, he had to have been shocked by all that he had witnessed. No one had ever seen a chariot of fire drawn by horses come from the sky then return to heaven; no one had been taken to heaven in such a way; and no one had the promise of Elijah that Elisha did. Elisha saw Elijah being taken and he was to receive the double portion of Elijah’s spirit. If that was how Elijah went, how would Elisha go?
Instead of questioning how and why the Lord did what he did or what the Lord would do with Elisha, Elisha did the natural thing for that moment. He grieved for Elijah. As Elijah mentored Elisha, he became like a father to him. There was great sadness in losing his mentor and father and then there was great responsibility to live into all that he had been taught. But Elisha stayed in the moment; he stayed in the grief. To effectively move into the call of his ministry, Elisha had to acknowledge what had been lost and all the pain of that loss.
Elisha grieved while Elijah went to glory. Now, it was time for Elisha to follow in the footsteps of his mentor and father. There was loss but there was also the spirit of Elijah that now rested on Elisha. Elisha was now the one anointed to serve as the prophet to Israel. Through the training of Elijah and now the spirit that resided within Elisha, he was fully equipped for the work he had been given to do. As Elisha fulfilled the ministry entrusted to him, he must have had great confidence that his work would be rewarded as Elijah’s had. Looking back at the example of Elijah and looking forward to his own departure would always remind Elisha that God was faithful to reward those who follow him.
May we, too, be encouraged to look back at the faithful that have gone before us, to learn from their legacies and then to look ahead to our time to our time to depart this world and enter the heavenly realms. God will always reward those who seek him and serve him! Reflection:
How do the eternal promises of God inspire you to faithfully live out your calling?
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