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.…
Here is a man on the borders of heaven. He is living in intimate fellowship with God. Of each step in that last journey he can say: "The Lord hath sent me." Enoch, the first to be translated, "walked with God." Elijah most clearly did the same. So St. Paul says: "If we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit"; or, literally, "let us also step in the Spirit." Not merely the walk as a whole, but each successive step should be in fellowship with God. Nothing short of this can be adequate preparation for such a change. Surely if we knew the Lord was coming for us in a few days, those days would be days of infinite and unbroken fellowship; there would be no hours out of touch with the Master. We ought when thus in perfect fellowship to be able to say of each step, "The Lord hath sent me." But this man on the borders of heaven, is found in a retired spot and seeks to be alone. We find him with Elisha at Gilgal, probably the "Gilgal beside the oaks of Moreh," mentioned in Deuteronomy 11:30, R.V. There he proposes to leave Elisha whilst he journeys alone to Bethel. We can understand his desire for solitude. And he has no wish to parade his approaching honour. He will not talk about it to Elisha; and Elisha refuses to discuss it with the sons of the prophets. This man on the borders of heaven, is full of a genuine humility. No traces of self are seen in him during this last journey. There was a sweet attractiveness, however, about this grand old warrior. Elisha felt it, and refused to leave him. Who shall say how far Elisha's brightness and buoyancy were the reflection of the glorious sunset, without clouds, which closed the earthly course of this truehearted veteran. But, again, this man on the borders of heaven takes an interest in his stewardship. There were schools for the sons of the prophets at both Bethel and Jericho. Elijah's Steps were no doubt guided to these places that he might leave at each a parting message of counsel and direction. He who said, "Occupy till I come," is not pleased if His servants neglect the work entrusted to them. Nor, however, should we be so engrossed in our work as to forget His promised return. Once more this man on the borders of heaven has no thought of his own needs, but is only anxious to leave a blessing behind. "Ask what I shall do for thee, before" — mark the limitation: Elijah knew his power of helping those on earth would cease when his life in the body was ended — "before I be taken away from thee." And this desire of Elijah's was fulfilled. He was staggered first of all at the boldness of Elisha's request. Most truly, Elijah left a blessing behind him. The sons of the prophets were forced to acknowledge, "The spirit of Eli]ah doth rest on Elisha." And nine hundred years afterwards the angel Gabriel could say no greater word concerning the promised forerunner than that be should "go before in the spirit and power of Elijah to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." And the very blessing which Elijah left behind him we may have. The Lord God of Eli]ah has not changed. Surely, as the coming of the Lord draweth nigh, and the promise, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord," receives its fulfilment, we may look for an increase of the "spirit" and power of Elijah in our midst. Men say, "The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones." But this is the cynical pessimism of an unbelieving age. Really good men never die. Their influence lives; they reproduce themselves in those around them. Judged by earthly standards, Elijah's career might seem almost a failure, for his chief public triumph was so soon discounted by unbelieving flight. But the man is more than his ministry. Character is more than success.
(F. S. Webster, M. A.)
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.