2 Kings 2:1-15
And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.…
The length of our lives in this world is in the hand of God. We have no independent lease of life, so that we may decide of our own accord that we will remain for a year, or ten, or twenty years on earth. We have only a lease at the will of God. All the physicians in the world could not insure our fives for a single year-nay, not for a single month, or even a single day. Elijah went when God called him. The record does not say that when Elijah saw that his work was done he decided that it was time for him to go home to heaven; there is nothing of that kind. It is, "When the Lord would take up Elijah to heaven." God decided the matter. This thought ought to give us pause. He ought not to leave undone from one day to another what we would wish to do if we knew this day was the last, for we do not know that God intends to give us another day. Each day ought to see all our affairs in such a condition that we are all right with God and man if this day is the last, for our lives are just as certainly at the disposal of God as was Elijah's, and we have no power that Elijah did not have to stay the hand of God when He would call us away. There is another thought which stands in the introduction to our theme which is very comforting and very precious, and that is the plain statement that God took Elijah direct to heaven. All the good are there, gathered from all ages and from all lands. It is a land of innocence and beauty, of love and worship; a land of music and of light, where the weary find rest, where heroic souls like Elijah's sun themselves in the presence of God. It was Elijah's last day on the earth. Elijah knew it, and said nothing to Elisha. The old man's heart was tender towards the young man, and he was willing to spare himself the sorrow of parting as well as to spare Elisha if he could. But Elisha, too, had in some way been made aware that this was the day when Elijah would be taken from him. What thoughts must have filled the minds of the two men as they walked along the way on that momentous day. Perhaps they were very silent. Elijah's mind must have been full of the past. And Elisha — what is he thinking of? How keenly he remembers that morning on his father's farm, when Elijah came to him with the call of God; how well he remembers the farewell feast, and the tender parting with his parents, and his going forth with Elijah, who during all the years since that time has been to him not only teacher and leader, but father, and mother, friend, and in some sense in the place of God. Elijah has stood to him as the very incarnation of goodness, a goodness that is sustained by unwavering faith in God; and Elisha loves this man with a love in which admiration and reverence and devotion are mingled. His whole heart has gone out to him. His worship of God has seemed akin to his love for Elijah. As he has lived with Elijah he has daily come to know more of God, and the more he has loved Elijah the deeper has been his devotion to God, and he can hardly think what life will mean without Elijah present with him — to sustain him and inspire him. All must have been in his heart as he answered Elijah, "As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee." There may well have been more than a present application to these words of Elisha. Elisha remained true to them after the death of Elijah; in heart and spirit he was never separated from his great friend and leader; throughout his life he remained true to Elijah, to his goodness, to his faith in God, to his heroic purpose, and to his lofty ideals. Now what message may we draw from the loyalty and love of this young man towards the older man? Should it not suggest to us that supreme love and devotion which we should show towards Jesus Christ our Saviour? True it is only a faint illustration, for Jesus has done infinitely more for us than Elijah did for Elisha. Elijah did not die for Elisha, but because he had by his goodness, by his obedience to God, and by his faithful affection, called Elisha to be God's servant and son, Elijah loved him thus devotedly and was determined to cling to him for ever. What, then, shall we say of the proper devotion which we should feel and show towards Jesus Christ? Elisha not only remained with Elijah because of the tenderest considerations of love and fidelity, but because he felt that every moment he had with Elijah was precious, and only by imitating Elijah would he be able to do the great work awaiting him. A still nobler Elijah stands as our example. And both these considerations appeal to us, for surely every moment we spend with Jesus is precious. Every hour which you will spend reading about Jesus, talking about Him, meditating upon Him, or praying to Him will Be an hour of infinite value to you. Not only so, but as Elisha got his strength largely from his fellowship with Elijah in their common faith in God, so we are strong as we keep close to Jesus Christ. I would like to emphasise this message to all who have recently given themselves to the service of Christ. The secret of a growing Christian character, the secret of strength and steadiness in the Christian life, is to persistently keep close to Jesus Christ. Elijah could not remain with Elisha, but Jesus comes to us in the presence of the Holy Spirit to comfort our hearts.
(L. A. Banks, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.