Sunday, March 10, 2013

Passing the Mantle

While Elijah, the great prophet, was abiding at Gilgal with his apprentice, Elisha, he said, “Elisha, you hang around here for a time. I have to go to Bethel to take care of some things.” Elisha replied, “Not so. Not so long as you live, nor so long as the Lord lives. Where you go is where I am going.” So they departed for Bethel.  

When they arrive there, the sons of the prophets of Bethel took Elisha aside and said, “Stop, man! Don’t you know that Elijah is going to be taken from you?” “I know it,” responded Elisha. Then Elijah told Elisha that he had to press on to Jericho, but he should wait here in Bethel. “No way,” responded the younger man. “Where you go, I am going.” So they departed for Jericho.

At Jericho, the sons of the prophets of Jericho drew Elisha aside and told him that he should stop following Elijah, for the prophet would be taken away. To these, as he had said to the men at Bethel, he replied that he was aware of what was about to happen. Again, Elijah told Elisha to wait as he went on; and again, Elisha defiantly asserted that he would not. They progressed to the Jordan. Here Elijah removed his cloak, folded it, and struck the surface of the water with it. The waters parted to the left and to the right, and the men walked across dry shod!

As they stood together east of Jordan, Elisha pleaded with his master to grant him the blessing. Elijah told his protégé that if he saw Elijah’s departure, he would receive a double portion. But if he was not alert and failed to see the lift-off, he would get nothing. Then a chariot of fire swooped down and caught up Elijah and he was carried away in a whirlwind! Elijah’s mantle fell away, and the young prophet picked it up.

Back at the river. Elisha emulated the old prophet’s move, and again the water parted to allow the man dry passage. On the west bank awaiting his return were fifty men of Jericho whose curiosity impelled them to stand there watching, for they knew Elijah would be caught up. Elisha is clearly the anointed successor to Elijah. He begins his journey from Jericho back along the way by which he had come. Along the way there are disrespectful young people, and bears,  and other things beyond the scope of today's lesson. You can read it in The Second Book of the Kings.

The prophet’s persistence profoundly profits the prophet.


Shelly said...

The story of Elisha has always fascinated me. Thank you for the reminder, as well as the alliterative delight this morning~

vanilla said...

Shelly, isn't the Bible just chock-a-block with fascinating things? I appreciate your reading and your comments.

Vee said...

Trivia: This post helped me with my Sunday crossword puzzle.

Seriously: Sometimes I find the lessons of the Old Testament hidden VERY deeply in the stories, so I tend to gravitate to New Testament readings.

vanilla said...

Vee, I am pleased that this reading gave you assistance with the puzzle.

OT well-worth reading, in any event.

Sharkbytes said...

One of those really strange stories, but I love the images.

vanilla said...

Shark, strange, yet fascinating.