II Kings 2:1 - “And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.”
Elisha, since called of God, had now been with Elijah for approximately 10 years. His training had been by firsthand observation. It most definitely would prove to be sufficient, which would result in a tremendous visitation for Israel.
Elisha knew that Elijah was about to be taken, but at this stage, not how he would be taken; consequently, he would not let the great prophet out of his sight.
THE PERSISTENCE OF ELISHA
There is a tremendous lesson to be learned here as it regards the last days of the great Prophet Elijah, and the persistence that Elisha evidenced as it regards that which he desired. We must take note of that persistence.
It is the persistent soul who reaps the benefits of what Christ has done for us at Calvary, and only the persistent soul (Lk. 11:5-13).
The things of God are not come by easily. We cannot merit them, and neither can we earn them. They are freely given. Yet, the Lord does not hand out His gifts indiscriminately. In other words, they aren’t easily possessed.
We must know and understand that whatever it is that we’ve received from God, and I mean whatever, is received by grace.
What do we mean by receiving by grace?
THE GRACE OF GOD
The grace of God is simply the goodness of God extended to undeserving saints. In a sense, that could be said of the entirety of mankind. In fact, God can deal with mankind only from the premise of grace for the simple reason that if we had to earn it or merit it, we would be found woefully wanting.
We must understand that grace is made possible entirely by the Cross of Christ. In other words, our Lord is the source of grace, while the Cross is the means by which this great grace is given unto us.
God did not have any less grace 3,000 years ago than He does now. It’s the Cross that has made grace available to us and it’s the Cross alone. That’s what we mean when we say the following:
Jesus Christ is the source of all things we receive from God.
The Cross of Christ is the means, and the only means, by which these things can be given to us.
With that being the case, the Cross of Christ must ever be the object of our faith. In fact, the entirety of the story of the Bible is “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” So, when one has his faith in Christ and the Cross, that is having his faith in the Word.
With this being done, understanding that Christ is the source, and the Cross is the means, and having our faith anchored in Christ and the Cross, the Holy Spirit, who works exclusively within the parameters, so to speak, of the finished work of Christ, will then work mightily on our behalf. He doesn’t require much of us, but He does require one thing, and on that He will not bend, and that is that our faith be exclusively in Christ and what He did for us at the Cross (Rom. 6:1-14; 8:1-11; I Cor. 1:17, 18, 23; 2:2; Gal. 6:14; Col. 2:10-15; Phil. 3:17-19).
THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH
“Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come (which He did on the Day of Pentecost), He will guide you into all truth (if our faith is properly placed in Christ and the Cross, the Holy Spirit can then bring forth truth to us; He doesn’t guide into some truth, but rather ‘all truth’): for He shall not speak of Himself (tells us not only what He does, but whom He represents); but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak (doesn’t refer to lack of knowledge, for the Holy Spirit is God and knows everything, but rather He will proclaim the work of Christ only): and He will show you things to come (pertains to the new covenant, which would shortly be given).
“He shall glorify Me (will portray Christ and what Christ did at the Cross for dying humanity): for He shall receive of Mine (the benefits of the Cross), and shall show it unto you (which He did when He gave these great truths to the Apostle Paul [Rom., Chpts. 6-8; Gal. 1:12]).
“All things that the Father has are Mine (has always been the case; however, due to the Cross, all these things can now be given to the believer as well): therefore said I, that He shall take of Mine, and shall show it unto you (the foundation of all the Holy Spirit reveals to the church is what Christ did at the Cross [Col. 2:10-15])” (Jn. 16:13-15).
As we shall see, the various places named in this scenario hold a lesson for us as it regards the persistence of Elisha.
They began this odyssey at a place called Gilgal. It has been argued as to whether this was the Gilgal next to Jericho - where the children of Israel under Joshua came into the Promised Land approximately 700 years before - or another Gilgal up north. Scholars have debated it both ways. However, from investigation, I personally think it was the Gilgal up north instead of the one near Jericho. The reason is this: When the two prophets left Gilgal, they went to Beth-el, which is immediately south of Gilgal up north, and then to Jericho. If they had gone first of all to the Gilgal near Jericho, they would then have had to travel quite a ways north to go to Beth-el and then back down to Jericho, which does not seem to make sense.
At any rate, and as previously stated, Gilgal was the beginning for Elisha in the sense of him taking the role of the prophet for the northern kingdom of Israel.
Some of you reading these words are presently standing, spiritually speaking, at your Gilgal. Irrespective of the past, it can be, and, in fact, the Lord intends for it to be, your beginning. You see, the Lord does not function from a “three strikes and you’re out” syndrome, but He is ready and willing - irrespective of the past - to make this here and now your beginning, if you will only believe Him, trust Him, and consecrate wholly to Him.
The word Beth-el means “house of God”; so, Elijah and Elisha came from the place of beginning, at least for the role that Elisha would play, to the house of God, which was quite a proper place to go.
And yet, all of this is symbolism, but I personally feel it spoke volumes to Elisha. Wherever Elijah went at this time, no doubt, was ordered by the Lord, and all for the benefit, it seems, of Elisha.
Beth-el was the place where Jacob had his encounter with the Lord, as it regarded the ladder to heaven, right after he left home because of problems concerning Esau. So now, as it refers to Elisha, it would in some way speak to him as well!
Jericho was the first obstacle encountered by the children of Israel when they came into the Promised Land after crossing the Jordan. It was one of the greatest cities in the land of Canaan. However, its walls would fall beneath the power of God, and the city would be taken with virtually no casualties whatsoever as it regarded God’s people. What had been so formidable now became a symbol of great victory. Once again, this symbolism, I am sure, was not lost on Elisha.
We begin at Gilgal, the place of beginnings, which actually means “rolled away.”
Elijah then went to Beth-el, meaning the house of God, which is where God once spoke, and I continue to refer to Jacob. Then the two prophets went to Jericho, the scene of the first great victory for the children of Israel so many, many years before, as they would go into the Promised Land. During all of this time, the great prophet was telling Elisha, “Tarry here.” The answer always was, “As the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.”
Undoubtedly, Elisha knew that the days of Elijah were numbered. How much he knew, we aren’t told, but there was something there that pressed him - the significance of these last days. Irrespective as to what Elijah told him, at least as it regarded his place and position, he let the great prophet know that he would not leave him, no matter what. This is the persistence that God desired.
So the narrative states, “And they two went on” (II Ki. 2:6).
The anointing of the Holy Spirit was upon Elijah. Elisha knew this, so he would not let the great prophet out of his sight.
Let the reader understand the following: The anointing is the key and the criterion for the place and position of the saint of God. Find out who the Lord is anointing with the Holy Spirit and make doubly certain that it, in fact, is the Holy Spirit, and then take up your place beside that person. The anointing is the key!
But, as we have already alluded, there is much fake anointing in the land. However, if the believer will earnestly seek the Lord and ask for leading and guidance, to be sure, he will be led to the right person and the right place.
THE SONS OF THE PROPHETS
“And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan” (II Ki. 2:7).
The “sons of the prophets” could have had, at least somewhat, the blessing as received by Elisha; however, their thoughts and interests were elsewhere.
While it would not have been proper for the sons of the prophets to have placed themselves in the same position as Elisha, for the Lord had not called them for this purpose, still, they should have been closer than merely to “view afar off.” This is all too often the condition of the church. At best, it views the anointing from “afar off.” There is no record in the Scriptures that the sons of the prophets had the anointing; consequently, there is very little good they did in Israel or Judah.
THE CROSSING OF THE JORDAN
This would be the last miracle, it seems, performed by Elijah. Beautifully enough, it would be the first miracle performed by Elisha after the translation of Elijah. Elijah would take his mantle, which was a robe-like affair, smite the Jordan, and the waters would open. He and Elisha would go to the eastern side of the river. This would be at the foot of Mount Pisgah, from where Moses viewed the Promised Land but was not allowed to enter in.
In a sense, Elijah and Elisha were similar to Moses and Joshua; consequently, the Lord would translate Elijah very near where He personally conducted the funeral for Moses. Only Elisha saw the translation of Elijah, and, in fact, no one saw the death and burial of Moses except God.
As the Jordan opened, the Scripture says, “They two went over on dry ground” (II Ki. 2:8).
THE DOUBLE PORTION
“And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for you, before I be taken away from you. And Elisha said, I pray you, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me” (II Ki. 2:9).
Verse 9 proclaims Elijah requesting of Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I be taken away from you.”
Quite a statement! That statement, in fact, is asked of the whole church. The answer in the last few years has been very revealing: Money, fame, prestige, influence, recognition, approval, dominion, and more. Precious few have answered as Elisha, “Let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” Actually, Elisha was asking for the portion of the firstborn. Elijah responded, “You have asked a hard thing” (II Ki. 2:10). It could have been translated, and did actually mean, “You have staked a great claim.” The request expresses the greatness of the appetite of the heart of Elisha for spiritual power. In other words, Elijah’s response was an approval of Elisha’s request. He would then continue in this spirit in which Elisha had been functioning from the very beginning, “If you see me,” speaking of Elijah’s coming translation. Elisha’s faith that had remained so very close thus far would have little difficulty in the remainder of the distance.
THE TRANSLATION OF ELIJAH
“And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (II Ki. 2:11).
In the original Hebrew, it says, “And Elijah went up in a storm into the heavens.” There is no mention of a whirlwind, for only two of the seed of Adam, Enoch and Elijah, have passed from earth without dying.
Elijah and Elisha were on the eastern side of the Jordan River, with that body of water having just opened miraculously at the behest of the great prophet. Elijah and Elisha were conversing at this time, about what, we aren’t told.
All of a sudden, it happened.
That which was invisible to the naked eye became visible to Elisha. He literally saw a chariot of fire and horses of fire. In fact, this progression “parted them both asunder.”
The word fire in the Hebrew, as here used, is esh and means “that which is literal or figurative.” In this instance, it is used in the figurative sense. In other words, the chariot and the horses looked like fire. As should be understood, these were spirit horses, which were actually pulling a chariot.
Some claim that Elijah really did not go up into heaven in the chariot, but rather followed. However, the implication is the opposite; the Lord took the great prophet home to glory in a chariot of fire.
When Jesus died on the Cross, He paid the terrible sin debt that man owed but could not pay. However, before the Cross, when believers died, they were not taken to heaven, but rather down into paradise, which, in fact, was next door to hell. This was due to the fact that the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins. Jesus said that there was a “great gulf” which separated paradise (Abraham’s bosom) from hell itself (Lk. 16:26).
So, where did Elijah go when he was translated? Was it up to heaven, as it regards the abode of God, or down into paradise? Every evidence is that he was taken directly to heaven without going to paradise.
Approximately 900 years later, both Moses and Elijah appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration and conversed with our Lord. In fact, they were seen by Peter, James, and John, who had accompanied the Lord to the top of the mountain. Jesus was there transfigured before them, which means that a light, actually, a living light, so to speak, literally emanated from His person. It was not on Him, but rather from Him, which portrayed who and what He actually was, which was and is deity, despite His human frame, i.e., the incarnation (Lk. 9:28-31).
Actually, our Lord, Moses, and Elijah “spoke of His decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem” (Lk. 9:31).
In essence, the Cross was the topic of their conversation on the Mount of Transfiguration, which means that this was the topic of conversation in heaven as well!
If it was the topic of conversation then, before the fact, how much should it be the topic of conversation now, considering it is after the fact? I think the answer is obvious!
Moses was a type of the law, thereby, when he died, he went to paradise, which was in the heart of the earth (Lk. 16:19-31).
Elijah was a type of the new covenant under Christ and, thereby, a type of the rapture. When he was translated, he was taken to heaven, the abode of God, and not paradise in the heart of the earth.
Incidentally, Elijah will yet come back to this earth and will preach the gospel, and will do so as the prophet he was and is.
ELIJAH WILL COME BACK
This will take place at about the midpoint of the great tribulation (Mat. 24:21). At that time, both Elijah and Enoch will be brought back because they are the only two human beings who will actually have never died, other than the believers who will go in the rapture when that event takes places. They will minister for approximately three and a half years and will be a sore thorn in the side of the Antichrist. No doubt, their ministry will turn many in Israel to Christ, and possibly the entirety of the world. While the Antichrist will repeatedly try to kill them during that three and a half years, he will not be successful until the very end of that period, when the Lord will allow these two great prophets to then be killed.
Malachi, the last great prophet before John the Baptist, stated, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD” (Mal. 4:5).
THAT WHICH IS COMING
The following are the notes from The Expositor’s Study Bible regarding Malachi 4:5:
The phrase, ‘Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet,’does not refer to the coming of John the Baptist, who only came in the spirit of Elijah. It actually refers to ‘Elijah the prophet,’ who was translated about 500 years before the time of Malachi, and who will be sent back to the earth by the Lord in the midst of the coming great tribulation.
At that time, he and Enoch of Revelation 11:3 will be used of God mightily as they prophesy in Jerusalem. Their ministry will last for the entirety of the last three and a half years of the great tribulation. Both will be killed by the Antichrist at the end of the great tribulation, ‘when they shall have finished their testimony.’ However, after three and a half days, they will be resurrected and raptured (Rev. 11:11-12).
As John the Baptist prepared the way for the first advent of Christ, these two, Elijah and Enoch, will prepare the way for the second coming of Christ.
The phrase, ‘Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD,’ addresses the coming great tribulation, and, more specifically, the second coming. It will be a ‘great day’ for God’s people and a ‘dreadful day’ for His enemies!”
Malachi went on to say, “And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse” (Mal. 4:5-6).
“The fathers” speak of the patriarchs and prophets of old.
The phrase, “Lest I come and smite the earth with a curse,” proclaims the obvious fact that there is no word following “curse” in the last verse of the old covenant, meaning there is more to follow. Thank God!
In contrast, the word amen follows the last words of the book of Revelation, closing the canon of Scripture, because after “grace,” which is the theme of the ministry of Christ, there is nothing left to be said but “amen.” Thank God! The world was not left with a curse, but Jesus Christ came and “redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13; Mal. 4:6).
Some claim that Enoch will not be the second witness of Revelation, Chapter 11. They claim the second witness will be Moses because he appeared with Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration.
While that is possible, we must allow the Scripture to be the final word.
The Scripture says, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die (due to the fall, all men are under the sentence of death, and, in fact, all have died spiritually, which means to be separated from God), but after this the judgment (the answer to the spiritual death of man is Christ and what He did at the Cross; if Christ the Saviour is rejected, all will face Christ the judge; for as death was inevitable, the judgment is inevitable as well)” (Heb. 9:27).
This pertains to all of humanity, with the exception of those who will go in the rapture (I Thess. 4:13-18).
The only two men on earth who have never died are Enoch and Elijah because they were translated; however, to fulfill this passage, both will come back and minister in Jerusalem, as stated, in the latter half of the great tribulation, which, at the conclusion of that time frame, they shall be killed. This will satisfy the Scripture.
Thus writes the chapter of the ministry and translation of Elijah; however, it definitely is not the last chapter. That will come, as stated, at the latter half of the great tribulation, and then there will be a final chapter of Elijah with all the redeemed and with the Lord Jesus Christ, which chapter will never end.
This message came from the book, Elijah The Tishbite.