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16. Elisha Succeeds Elijah

October 13, 2010

Text:    II Kings 2:1-25

Outline:            I.     Elijah is Translated Home                       II Kings 2:1-13

II.   Elisha Replaces Elijah                               II Kings 2:14-18

III.  Elisha Begins to Minister                         II Kings 2:19-25


We are backing up in time about 5-8 years from Lessons 13 and 14.  There is an ongoing war with Israel and Judah allied against Aram.  Ahab was been killed in this war.  Ahaziah, his son, has died of illness and Jehoram is king of Israel.  Jehoshaphat is still king of Judah.  Elijah has been commissioned by the Lord to anoint his successor Elisha [which he did], anoint Hazael king of Aram, and anoint Jehu king of Israel [to be done by Elisha].  Jehu, which we will study after Elisha, is the commander of Israel’s army fighting Aram at Ramoth Gilead.

Elijah learns that God is calling him home; home to Gilead east of the Jordan and home to heaven.  He and Elisha are traveling together.  Elijah is called from Gilgal to Bethel and Elisha commits to go with him.  Elijah visits the Lord’s prophets at Bethel who verify the Lord’s call to take Elijah home.  Elijah asks them not to talk about it.  His focus is on them. He doesn’t want their focus to be on him but on the Lord.  Next the Lord calls Elijah to Jericho but he wants Elisha to stay in Bethel with the prophets.  Elisha refuses and goes to Jericho with Elijah.  The prophets at Jericho also tell Elijah the same news, that the Lord is taking him home.  Elijah’s response is the same and probably for the same reasons as at Bethel.  Evidently Elijah’s exploits on Mt. Carmel has enabled the Lord’s prophets to multiply, come into the open, and not fear death at the hand of Jezebel, Ahab’s wife.  Next Elijah is called to the Jordan River and again  Elisha refuses to stay behind.  In fact, 50 additional prophets walked with Elijah to the Jordan River.  Elijah parts the waters with his cloak and Elisha walks with Elijah to the other side.  Elijah asks Elisha what he can do for him before he leaves.  Elisha asks for a double portion of his spirit.  Elijah says that his wish will be granted if he is fortunate to see him die/translated.  Granting this wish is the work of God, not the work of Elijah.  As they walked together, suddenly horses and a chariot of fire appear and Elijah leaves in a whirlwind [see Ezekiel 1:4-28].  Elisha tears his clothes, picks up Elijah’s cloak, and returns to the Jordan River bank.  Elijah has been miraculously translated as was Enoch before the flood, Moses before entering the Promised Land, and like Jesus Christ when he ascended into heaven.  There is a resurrection and we have been given witnesses to that fact.

               Let me take some time here to relate my own personal experiences with death.  I was privileged to be at the bedsides of both my mother and father when they died.  They were similar but different.  When Mom died, I sensed her spirit in the hospital room until I got Dad and he had a chance to verify what I had observed, her last breath.  She died of cancer so our response was more of thanksgiving than mourning.  Her suffering was over. Her spirit left the room saying  “you’ll be OK”.  I saw Dad literally wear himself out trying to breath before he died.  When I reached the hospital room that night, I sensed his spirit had already gone to be with the Lord.  I was just waiting for his body to die.  His spirit was gone and alive with the Lord.  No doubt your experiences are different but mine left me with no doubt that there is a resurrection to everlasting life for all who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior.  My guess is that Elisha felt much the same as I.  He had asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. His desire was to be faithful to God and His Word just as Elijah had been.  He wanted to continue Elijah’s legacy as a powerful prophet obedient to the Lord God Almighty.

                 Elisha strikes the Jordan River as did Elijah and it divided enabling him to cross over to the 50 prophets who were watching from the west side of the Jordan River.  They recognize Elisha has Elijah’s spirit and volunteer to look for Elijah’s body.  Elisha says “don’t bother”  but they insist.  They look for 3 days before giving up and returning to Jericho.

Jericho’s leaders come to Elisha and share their problem.  Jericho has plenty of water but it is unfit to drink and is bad for their crops.  Elisha asks for a bowl and puts salt in it.  He takes the bowl and empties it into their spring proclaiming that the Lord has healed their water supply.  To this day it has produced good water just as Elisha said.

Elisha goes to Bethel and is accosted by 42 youths calling him a “baldhead” and showing disrespect for his position as “Elijah’s successor”.  They don’t realize that he is “special to God” just as was Elijah.  Elisha calls out a curse and bears maul the youths.  Elisha continues his journey to Mt. Carmel and Samaria, retracing the steps of Elijah.


  1. Honor those “People of God” who gave of their time to teach and train you for ministry.
  2. God’s love for His children and among His children is readily seen by others.
  3. Persecution of God’s Chosen Leaders is neither wise nor beneficial.
  4. As Christians we long to go home.  Elijah was no different.  Many of us are privileged to sense the time of the Lord’s calling. Anticipate and look forward to His coming for you.
  5. Visiting with family,  loved ones, and fellow workers is important before our journey home.  We may prefer to “go alone” but a close friend makes the journey easier.  Do not pass up the opportunity to befriend someone on his last journey.  You will be blessed.
  6. Elisha was heir to Elijah and asked to receive a double portion of his spirit.  Think of Elijah as a Christ-figure.  Elijah was “God’s son” and Elisha was the “son of Elijah” or the “son of God’s son”.  We too are “sons of the Lord” who is the Son of God.  Ask God to bless you with His Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
  7. Elijah’s cloak has the same purpose as Moses’ staff.  It is a symbol of God’s miraculous power.  We too have a cloak or use a staff.  It is our transformed life as a result of God’s indwelling Spirit.  We are witnesses of God’s great power.  Let us use our lives to glorify God and encourage one another  to be faithful to Him.
  8. As God’s “prophets” we should show concern and care for fellow believers and also for all those who live among us.  We are to be a blessing by sharing the blessings we have received from the Lord.
  9. When succeeding someone in minsitry or any other vocation, it is always wise to revisit the locations and areas of ministry/work of those before you to understand the history of successes and failures.  This information is valuable to indentifying problems and/or growing the ministry/business.

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