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.…
I. In the glorious end of Elijah's earthly life we see not simply the reward of one faithful man, but the Divine grace manifested to every believer at the end of his earthly career. One of the purposes, doubtless, of this translation of Elijah was to make plainer to our dull understandings the upward heavenly going of every saint when his Work on earth is over. We are so apt to follow the body with our thoughts, and to imagine our departed friends in the grave, that here God made the body go upward that we may be weaned of this wrong and heathenish notion. To the spiritual mind the whole Old Testament is full of views of the future state; and this ascent of Elijah is one of the many instances in which we behold the immediate contiguity of heaven to earth in the experience of God's holy ones. When, therefore, we are called upon to bend over the mortal form of a departing saint, it is for us to feel how close at hand is the transfer to heaven. "The spiritual heaven is neither 'up' nor 'down,' and this narrative of Elijah's disappearance from Elisha must not be pressed. In reply to this we say that we can press it. We assert that "up" is always used in accordance with the need or weakness (if you please) of our nature to designate the heaven of the departed soul where it abides with God. This is but in conformity with the uni-verbal instinct of man. Why it should be so we cannot tell, nor are we called on to explain. The prophet Elijah ascending through the air teaches us of a present heaven to which his life was transferred. We cannot otherwise regard the incident. The mind refuses to see in it that he went into unconsciousness or annihilation or to purgatory or to hell. The "heaven" is not simply the outward heaven of sense, but the heaven of bliss and of God, just as in the case of our Lord Jesus who led His disciples out as far as to Bethany; and it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them and carded up into heaven.
2. "Elijah went up into heaven." It was Elijah that went up, not Ahab. It was a man of God, one who had been faithful to the Divine will and commands, one who had been jealous for God's name and worship. It is well for us to note this. Only God's saints go up to heaven. Without holiness no man shall see the Lord. Those who think God will or can take an unholy heart to heaven know nothing of God. "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in His holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart." While no man can derive these requisites from his nature, depraved as it is, he can receive the blessing of the clean hands and pure heart from the Lord, even righteousness from the God of his salvation.
(H. Crosby, 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.