It’s Your Story

It’s Your Story

“It’s your story”

Elijah and Elisha

Reuben Alexander

Sunday 6th June 2021

With Peter Veysie

8am and 10am

2 Kings 6: 8 -25

George Methodist Church

Lexi – children’s church Pastor induction and prayer.

The testimony of Reuben Alexander – my interview.

Stories shaping ours and other people’s lives

Introduction

When Elijah was ready to die he had a follower who would not leave his side. Elisha in fact burned up his inheritance of a very wealthy farm as They went right off to Jericho and then on to the Jordan and Elijah asked what Elisha wanted. He asked a double portion of Elijah anointing. This is not a good thing to ask for as Elisha had much more demand from his life than Elijah. But more than this he asked for his mantle. As Elijah died and was taken up into the clouds on a chariot, he threw down his cloak/mantle and Elisha tore up his old cloak and wrapped up Elijah’s cloak and hit the Jordan which proceeded to open, allowing the other prophets who were around to see him as having Elijah’s mantle.

Who was Elisha?:

Elisha, whose name in Hebrew means “God is Salvation,” was an Israelite prophet and disciple of Elijah. Accounts of Elisha’s life and activities are found in 1 and 2 Kings, but these biblical texts are the only records we have of such a person.

When did Elisha live?:

According to the Bible, Elisha was active during the reigns of Israelite kings Joram, Jehu, Jehoahaz, and Joash, which would place him during the last half of the 9th century BCE.

Where did Elisha live?:

Elisha is described as the son of a (possibly rich) farmer in Galilee who was called by Elijah while tilling one of his family’s fields. This story has strong parallels with the accounts of Jesus calling his own disciples in Galilee, some of whom were in the act of fishing when Jesus encountered them. Elisha preached and worked in the northern kingdom of Israel and eventually came to live on Mt. Carmel with a servant.

It is interesting to me that the concept of a yolk/ cloak/ mantle of another is a strong theme in the New Testament and Jesus uses this to call his disciples away from the old burdensome mantles of legalism and religiosity into a wealthy of knowledge and walking with God. Take my yoke upon – this refers to the teaching mantle of the Rabbi and Jesus always said that it was easy and not burdensome. Paul and Timothy had a special mentoring relatiosnhip too and Paul called Timothy his son.

What did Elisha do?:

Elisha is depicted as a miracle worker, for example healing the sick and reviving the dead. One curious story has him calling out two bears to maul and kill a group of children who mocked his bald head. Elisha was also heavily involved in politics, for example helping the king‘s forces attack Moab.

Elisha delayed merely to give the farewell kiss to his father and mother and preside at a parting feast with his people, and then followed the great prophet on his northward road. We hear nothing more of Elisha for eight years, until the translation of his master, when he reappears, to become the most prominent figure in the history of his country during the rest of his long life.

After the departure of his master, Elisha returned to live at Jericho, 2Ki_2:18, where he miraculously purified the springs. We next meet with Elisha at Bethel, in the heart of the country, on his way from Jericho to Mount Carmel. 2Ki_2:23. The mocking children, Elisha’s curse and the catastrophe which followed are familiar to all.

Later, he extricates Jehoram, king of Israel, and the kings of Judah and Edom, from their difficulty in the campaign against Moab, arising from want of water. 2Ki_3:4-27. Then he multiplies the widow’s oil. 2Ki_4:5. The next occurrence is at Shunem, where he is hospitably entertained by a woman of substance, whose son dies, and is brought to life again by Elisha. 2Ki_4:8-37. Then at Gilgal, he purifies the deadly vegetable soup, 2Ki_4:38-41, and multiplies the loaves. 2Ki_4:42-44.

2Ki 5:1-27. The chief captain of the army of Syria, Naaman, is attacked with leprosy, and is sent, by an Israelite maid, to the prophet Elisha, who directs him to dip seven times in the Jordan, which he does and is healed, 2Ki 5:1-14, while Naaman’s servant, Gehazi, he strikes with leprosy for his unfaithfulness. 2Ki_5:20-27.

Again, the scene changes. It is probably at Jericho that Elisha causes the iron axe to float. 2Ki 6:1-7. A band of Syrian marauders are sent to seize him, but are struck blind, and he misleads them to Samaria, where they find themselves in the presence of the Israelite king and his troops. 2Ki_6:8-23. During the famine in Samaria, 2Ki_6:24-33, he prophesied incredible plenty, 2Ki_7:1-2, which was soon fulfilled. 2Ki_7:3-20.

We next find the prophet at Damascus. Benhadad, the king, is sick, and sends to Elisha by Hazael to know the result. Elisha prophesies the king’s death, and announces to Hazael that he is to succeed to the throne. 2Ki_8:7; 2Ki_8:15. Finally, this prophet of God, after having filled the position for sixty years, is found on his death-bed in his own house. 2Ki_13:14-19. The power of the prophet, however, does not terminate with his death. Even in the tomb, he restores the dead to life. 2Ki_13:21.d defend Israel against Syrian attacks. 

Why was Elisha important?:

Elisha’s message to those in charge was that they should turn back to traditional religious practices and acknowledge God’s absolute sovereignty over every aspect of life, personal as well as political. When he healed the sick, it was to demonstrate God’s power over life and death. When he helped in battle, it was to demonstrate God’s power over nations and kingdoms. 

Whereas his mentor Elijah was constantly in conflict with political authorities, Elisha had a much friendlier relationship with them. King Joram was, however, the son of Ahab and therefore doomed by Elijah. With Elisha’s encouragement, general Jehu killed Joram and assumed the throne. The religious purge that followed may have reinforced traditional beliefs, but at the cost of weakening the kingdom militarily and politically

Main message: grace, love, tenderness

Most of his miracles were deeds of kindness and mercy.

Target audience: the kings of his day (he brought God to the people)

Mentoring

The story of Elijah and Elisha may be the most obvious mentorship story in the Bible. It tells us about both the role of the protégé and the mentor. In his first encounter with Elijah, Elisha is willing to let go of his occupation, his family, and the life he had built thus far in order to follow after a man offering his mentorship. He killed his oxen and destroyed the yoke, giving the proceeds to his neighborhood. This would be the equivalent of selling a business and throwing a party with the proceeds.

1. Make sure that you are living a disciplined and mentored life yourself. Spend time in the Word, ensure that you are spiritually fit and physically fit. I want to be a good role model to my proteges and mentees and my sons Matt, Luke and Joel.

2. A mentee must be willing to spend time focusing on the assignment of a mentor before qualifying for an assignment of their own.

So much can be learned by observing the life of another. We can learn from their habits and disciplines, how they relate to others, and even from their faults. Elisha was destined for a double portion, but if he had never first offered himself as a servant to Elijah, he would have remained a farmer and never performed the amazing miracles that blessed the lives of so many others.

“Then Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, for the LORD has told me to go to the Jordan River.” But again Elisha replied, “As surely as the LORD lives and you yourself live, I will never leave you.” So they went on together. Fifty men from the group of prophets also went and watched from a distance as Elijah and Elisha stopped beside the Jordan River.” (2 Kings 2:6-7 NLT).

Bible scholars believe that Elisha served Elijah for six years before Elijah was ushered into Heaven. At this time an interesting test was set before Elisha. It was common knowledge among the prophets of the age that Elijah’s time had come. Elijah three times told Elisha to stay behind, but each time his assistant refused to leave his side. Others were watching from a distance, but Elisha wanted a close up and personal view of what God was about to do in Elijah’s life. Those watching from a distance were not left with the double portion, only the one who had persevered.

3. A mentee must be willing to stay close to a mentor even when remaining is difficult.

“Elisha picked up Elijah’s cloak, which had fallen when he was taken up. Then Elisha returned to the bank of the Jordan River” (2 Kings 2:6, 13 NLT).

At their first encounter, Elijah placed his cloak on Elisha’s shoulders, but it wasn’t time for him to take up the mantel of the Prophet yet. But after Elisha had proven himself faithful as an assistant, Elijah left him his cloak as a symbol that it was now time for the younger man to fulfill the plans God had for him. Rather than rejoicing that his time had come, Elisha was crushed to see his mentor leave, proving that he wasn’t serving Elijah just to propel his own future. After he mourned, he picked up the cloak that Elijah had left for him.

4. A mentee must wait patiently until the appointed time to pick up the mantel left behind by others.

Many times we are fooled into thinking that it is the job of the mentor to pursue the protégé, but this biblical account reveals that Elisha’s success was found in the protégé’s relentless pursuit of his mentor. Being under the tutelage of another can be difficult. At times we are asked to do hard things. Perhaps our perception of the mentor is challenged when we are introduced to the humanness of someone we greatly respect. But the reward is great for those protégés who press beyond these struggles until the day when the baton is clearly passed on to them.

Questions

  • Who have been good mentors in your life ?
  • Who have you mentored and how has it been?
  • What have you learned from Elijah and Elisha?
  • How can you be used effectively to mentor others in George ?

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