The Ascension of Elijah
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.…


1. The last intercourse between Elijah and Elisha is hardly what we should have expected. Elijah knew that he was about to leave Elisha, but almost seems to act with coldness towards him, and to want to throw him off. Elisha had left all to follow Elijah, to be his disciple and attendant.

2. It was a-mark of lowliness in the prophet. He was to be honoured by God in a most marvellous manner, and he shrank even from Elisha's witness of the great event. The law of the spiritual life, "He that humbleth himself shall be exalted," even then held good.

3. Further, it might have been to test Elisha, his affection, and his detachment. It would seem that there was something which governed Elijah's request, though he does not reveal the motive of it. The strong asseveration, too, of Elijah, "As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee," repeated thrice, shows how Elijah's proposal had stirred the depths of Elisha's soul.

4. The repeated suggestion that he should depart reveals the perseverance of Elisha. It gave to his will the opportunity of exercising steadfastness and constancy. In this mysterious intercourse we see how graces were set in motion and developed. The crossing of Jordan seems to have been the acme of Elisha's probation; for now Elijah turns to him, and makes a proposal of a very different kind, "Ask what I shall do for thee," etc.

5. Then Elisha is ready with the petition, "Let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me."


1. There are two ways of approaching the mysteries of Christ — one direct, the other indirect. One through the Gospels, thee other through the types and prophecies of the Old Testament. Besides these, there is the road of experience in the Epistles.

2. We take now the indirect route. We find in this narrative, first, a type of Christ's ascension into heaven. Of the points of resemblance between the two events, no unbiased mind could doubt. Even Scott says it was "a prefiguration of the Redeemer's ascension". In both cases there was the miraculous elevation of a human body from earth to heaven. Both had to be seen, to secure a gift.

3. But it is a law of the antitype to outstrip the type. Christ was self-raised. He who by His Divine power could walk on the water, could mount up into the air.


1. "Exception proves the rule." Let the exemption of Elijah from the law of death remind us that we have to pass through the dark valley, and must prepare for the journey; for "what man is he that shall live, and shall not see death, that shall deliver his soul from the power of Sheol?" (Psalm 89:48, R.V.).

2. Dispositions are necessary for receiving spiritual gifts — the lowliness, detachment, steadfastness to be traced in the last intercourse between Elijah and Elisha, bear witness to this.

3. To approach the mysteries of Christ through the types of the Old Testament, seeing in them how all leads up to Him, and that therefore the disparagement of the Old Testament cannot but end in an under-valuation of the New (Luke 24:44).

(Canon Hutchings, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.

WEB: It happened, when Yahweh would take up Elijah by a whirlwind into heaven, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.

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