2 Kings 2:2
And Elijah said to Elisha, Tarry here, I pray you; for the LORD has sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said to him, As the LORD lives…
The call that came to Elisha as he was ploughing at Abel-meholah was readily and gladly obeyed. There was no ten days' tarrying between his master's ascension and his own wonderful enduement, as in the case of the apostles, and this was, probably, because he had been sufficiently tested and prepared beforehand.
1. He had learned to stoop and serve. Not one of the chosen twelve volunteered to take the place of a servant at the passover feast on the night of the betrayal.
2. He had learned to obey God rather than men. Mrs. Walton, in her book, tells us that the beautiful orange groves near the town of Jaffa are so sheltered that for some part of the year the perfectly ripe fruit of last year is seen hanging side by side with the blossom of this. Blossom and fruit were side by side on this journey. Elijah, so fully matured that he was ready for translation, side by side with Elisha, who was just blossoming out in the beauty of early faith and devotion. And yet Elijah himself was to apply the second great test to Elisha, to see whether
he would obey God rather than men. God had commissioned Elisha to minister to Elijah. Would he persevere to the end, or would he allow the persuasions of others to draw him off? So three times he was tested by his own master. "Tarry ye here, for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel." "Tarry ye here, for the Lord hath sent me to Jericho." "Tarry ye here, for the Lord hath sent me to Jordan." It was that he might test Elisha's devotion, and see if he would follow right on to the end. So Elijah does not express a desire to be alone. He simply tested Elisha, as Naomi tested Orpah and Ruth. It is eight miles from Jezreel to Bethel. The road descends a steep hill into a narrow gorge which runs for some four miles to an ancient spring now called "the Robbers' Well." So far the road is easy, but for the next four miles the rocky bed of a dry watercourse is the only path. So Elijah suggests that he might be left to tread the last stage of his earthly pilgrimage alone. Very different was the attitude of the sons of the prophets. There were theological colleges, so to speak, at Bethel and Jericho, and Elijah s last journey took him past these. It would be an encouragement to him to see that God was not left without witnesses — that his championship of God's truth had not been in vain. But there was no special blessing for these sons of the prophets at this time. They fell far short of Elisha's portion. Their attitude and spirit were very different from Elisha's. Perhaps they wanted to discuss who was to succeed Elijah, and what effect his departure would have upon God's work in Israel. But there was no holy awe as they stood in the presence of one so soon to be summoned to the glorious presence of the King of kings. They felt no sense of need; they had no thirst for personal blessing. There are many to-day like these sons of the prophets. When God is working mightily in the quickening and deepening energy of the Holy Ghost, it is those only who follow closely, and right through to the end, who receive the blessing. Those who look on from a distance will never see the heaven opened, or share in the outpoured blessing.
3. Elisha had learned to put first things first. Once more he was to be tested. The two had crossed Jordan. That river which is the symbol of death had parted when smitten by Elijah's mantle. It was not fitting that he who was to be honoured by a deathless translation should wrestle with the swiftly flowing waters of Jordan. You say, "If I can get safely to heaven at the end, that is all I want"; but is that all God wants? How would you answer if the challenge, "Ask what I shall do for thee," were put to you? Would your soul leap forth with ardent longing for fulness of spiritual blessing, or would some craving for ease and honour and advancement be uppermost in your heart?
(M. G. Pearse.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel.