2Kings 2:1-18

Sunday Morning Bible Study

July 21, 2002


It seems that starting some time around the time of the prophet Samuel, an institution called the “school of the prophets” was started. It has been suggested that these were started by Samuel to train men in being prophets, in speaking for God. In Elijah’s day, Elijah seems to have become the head of these “schools”. Later, Elijah’s servant, Elisha will be recognized as the leader of the prophets.

:1-8 Elijah takes a walk

:1 when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven …

As we see things happen, there is a sense in which Elijah’s time left on earth is short. This is the context.

GilgalThere are four “Gilgals” in Israel. I found a commentary to support each one. I’m not sure which one this is. We do know that there was a school of the prophets at Gilgal. see map

:2 the LORD hath sent me to Bethel.

BethelThis is about 13 miles west of Gilgal, up in the hills. This was the city that had one of Jeroboam’s two golden calves.   see map Apparently there is a “prophet school” located there. I wonder if Elijah isn’t making the rounds to say goodbye to people.

:3 the sons of the prophets …said unto him …

sons of the prophets – these are the prophets in training.

These prophets are somehow aware of what will be happening on this day. It could be that Elijah has told them. It could be that the Lord has told them. Whatever the case, Elisha is aware of this himself.

:3 hold ye your peace

Meaning, “shut up!” or, “be quiet!”. Perhaps he doesn’t want to be reminded that Elijah will soon be gone.

:4 the LORD hath sent me to Jericho.

Jericho – down the hill toward the Jordan River, near Gilgal. see map

:6 Tarry, I pray thee ...

Three times now, Elijah has given Elisha the chance to go take a break.

You could almost get the idea that he doesn’t want Elisha to be around. But I think it’s more like a test.

It was not uncommon for a dying person to pronounce a blessing on those around him. Jacob blessed his sons (Gen. 49). Moses blessed Israel at the time of his death (Deut. 33). Elisha doesn’t want to miss out.


Easier isn’t always better.

I think there are times when God wants us to take a break. Vacations are good. Taking a day off is good. Rest is good.
But sometimes the “break” isn’t the right thing.
In our lives, there may be times when you face the choice of taking the easy way out and just getting something over with, or taking the long way.
Shorter isn’t always better.
Warren Wiersbe: Had Elisha taken the easy route and stayed behind, he would have missed all the blessing of vv. 9–15. It pays to be faithful to your calling.[1]
There’s a story about an old grandfather clock that had stood for three generations in the same corner of a room, faithfully ticking off the minutes and hours, day after day. In the clock was a heavy weight that the owner pulled to the top each night to keep it running. Then one day the clock was sold, and the new owner noticed the heavy weight. “Too bad,” he said, “that such an old clock should have to bear so great a load.” So he took the weight off the chain. At once the clock stopped ticking. “Why did you do that?” asked the clock. “I wanted to lighten your burden,” said the man. “Please put it back,” said the clock. “That’s what keeps me going!”
Most people are looking for an easy way through life. They think that if they had no burdens they could live pleasantly and triumphantly. They don’t realize that God often keeps us going spiritually by the weights that seem to pull us down.
Trials can serve to give our feet spiritual traction. Our burdens not only bring us blessing n this life, but they also are “working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17).  ~ Henry G. Bosch

:6 the LORD hath sent me to Jordan

Jordan – the river. About 5 miles east of Jericho. see map

:7 to view afar off

These fifty men want to watch what’s going on.

Perhaps these are men that have joined this procession from Gilgal to Bethel to Jericho and now to the Jordan River.

They’ll be in the story a little later.


How close are you going to get?

These guys are going to see some pretty spectacular things, but only from a distance.
I'd rather be in Elisha’s sandals, getting to see the action from up close.
But you only get there if you stick around and persevere!
It’s better to be in the game than sit on the sidelines.
Coach Bobby Ross had put together the perfect Lions team for ‘99. The only thing he was missing was a good quarterback. He had scouted all the colleges, and even the high schools, but he couldn’t find a ringer quarterback that would ensure a Super Bowl win. Then one night, watching CNN, he saw a war zone scene in Bosnia. In one corner of the background, he spotted a young Bosnian soldier with a truly incredible arm. He threw a hand grenade straight into a 15th story window a good 200 yards away - ka-boom! He threw another hand grenade into a group of about 10 soldiers over 100 yards away - ka-blooey! Then a car passes, going around 90 miles per hour - bulls-eye! Right into it. “I’ve got to get this guy,” Ross said to himself. “He has the perfect arm!” So, he brings him to the States and teaches him the great game of football and the Lions go on to win the Super Bowl for the first time in history. The young Bosnian is lionized as the Great Hero of football, and when Ross asks him what he wants, all the young man wants to do is to call his mother. “Mom,” he says into the receiver, “ I just won the Super Bowl”. “I don’t want to talk to you,” the old woman says. “You deserted us. You’re not my son”. “I don’t think you understand, Mother” the young man pleads. “I just won the greatest sporting event in the world. I’m in the middle of thousands of adoring fans.” “No, let me tell you,” the mother implores. “At this very moment, there are gunshots all around us. The neighborhood is a pile of rubble. Your two brothers were beaten and came within an inch of losing their lives last week, and this week your sister was mugged...in broad daylight”. The old lady pauses, in tears, “...I’ll never forgive you for making us move to Detroit.”

Oh well, at least he got in the game! It’s much better being down on the playing field, than just sit up in the stands.

Worship - are you observing, or participating? Ministering to others?

:8 Elijah took his mantle…and smote the waters

mantle‘addereth – glory, cloak; splendour, magnificence; mantle, cloak made of fur or fine material. Some have suggested this might have been different from his “hairy garment”, while others think it might have been a goatskin or sheepskin.

The prophet’s mantle, or “cloak” was a symbol of his authority or power with which God clothed him. Earlier, when Elijah called Elisha to follow him in the ministry, he had thrown this “mantle” on Elisha as a way of saying he would be with Elijah (1Ki. 19:19)

:8 they were divided

The Jordan is once again parted (first time by Joshua, Josh. 3), and the two prophets walk across on the ground.

:9-10 Elisha’s request

:9 a double portion of thy spirit be upon me

thy spirit – If you’re not careful, you might get the idea that the “spirit” was Elijah’s spirit, but it’s not, it’s the Holy Spirit.

double portion

I do not believe this is talking about the ability to do twice the miracles of Elijah.

We have a record of Elijah performing eight miracles and Elisha performed eleven.
Elijah (Drought caused 1Ki 17:1;  Meal and oil multiplied 1Ki 17:14-16; A child restored to life 1Ki 17:22,23; Sacrifice consumed by fire. 1Ki 18:36,38; Men destroyed by fire. 2Ki 1:10-12; Rain brought. 1Ki 18:41-45; Waters of Jordan divided. 2Ki 2:8; Taken to heaven. 2Ki 2:11)
Elisha (Waters of Jordan divided. 2Ki 2:14; Waters healed. 2Ki 2:21,22; Children torn by bears. 2Ki 2:24; Oil multiplied. 2Ki 4:1-7; Child restored to life. 2Ki 4:32-35; Naaman healed. 2Ki 5:10,14; Gehazi struck with leprosy. 2Ki 5:27; Iron caused to swim. 2Ki 6:6; Syrians smitten with blindness. 2Ki 6:20; Syrians restored to sight. 2Ki 6:20; A man restored to life. 2Ki 13:21)

I believe this is talking about the right of a firstborn son. When a father died, the firstborn son would inherit a “double portion”, or, twice the amount that the other sons would receive.

Elisha isn’t asking for possessions or fame. He’s asking for the Holy Spirit. He wants work of the Holy Spirit in his life. And he’ll get it.
It is interesting to note that Elisha may have had twice as many troubles. Elijah went through 3 ½ years of drought. Elisha will go through 7 years of drought.

:10 asked a hard thing

It’s not up to Elijah to grant this request. This is God’s job.

:10 if thou see me when I am taken ...

In other words, if Elisha will just hang around, he'll get the blessing.


Persevere to the blessing!

It seems that there are times when the Lord gives us a chance to take a break.
But I like Elisha’s attitude. He’s not leaving Elijah until he gets his blessing.
It’s kind of like when Jacob was faced with going back to face his angry brother, and he had all his family and flocks to worry about:
Jacob figured out a plan to try and bribe his brother with gifts, and after he got the plan all ready, he went off to be by himself for the night before he was to see his brother Esau. He encountered a stranger (I think it was Jesus) who wrestled with Jacob all night long.

(Gen 32:24-26 KJV) And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. {25} And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. {26} And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.

Note that the suggestion came for Jacob to “let go”, but Jacob wouldn’t let go until he got his blessing.

Jesus kept going.
He asked God if there was any other way than to go to the cross.  But He knew that He had to go to the cross in order to pay for our sins.  And so Jesus kept going.
(Heb 12:1-2 NLT)  Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. {2} We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish. He was willing to die a shameful death on the cross because of the joy he knew would be his afterward. Now he is seated in the place of highest honor beside God's throne in heaven.
Persevere for the short-term blessings.
I think there are times when our walk seems dry and powerless. We need to learn to press in and hold on to the Lord until He blesses us.
Persevere for the long-term blessing:
(Phil 3:13-14 KJV) Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, {14} I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

The best blessing is seeing Jesus.  Keep going.

:11-12 Elijah’s departure

:11 a chariot of fire …Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

of fire – These could be angels coming to pick up Elijah for the ride home:

Ps 104:4 Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:

Ps 68:17 The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels

whirlwindca‘ar – tempest, storm, whirlwind. The text seems to indicate that Elijah is not taken up in the chariot, but in the whirlwind.

:12 My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen

This is a difficult phrase. It sounds at first as if Elisha is talking about the chariot of fire.

I think he’s talking about Elijah. The idea is that Elijah was better for Israel than any number of chariots or horsemen because of his prayers for Israel.

Pay attention to this phrase, as little as we understand it, because it will come up again.

(2 Ki 13:14 KJV) Now Elisha was fallen sick of his sickness whereof he died. And Joash the king of Israel came down unto him, and wept over his face, and said, O my father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof.
Joash didn’t see any chariots of fire. But he had another amazing prophet before him.


The person walking in the Spirit is a huge blessing

Joseph was a huge blessing to the whole world – he saved the world from famine because he was in tune with what God was doing.
Daniel was a huge blessing to Nebuchadnezzar and the whole world because God worked through him.
You are a huge blessing to your family, your friends, and your work when you are walking in obedience to the Lord. They may not see it, but you are their “chariot” and their “horseman”.

:12 he saw him no more

Elijah was one of the few people who have escaped physical death, at least for now. He apparently went straight to heaven. He would appear with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mat. 17). He will be coming again.

Malachi 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:

We believe this will be as one of the two witnesses in Revelation 11.

:13-15 Elisha’s anointing

:14 Where is the LORD God of Elijah?

He isn’t expecting the “magic mantle” to do all the work by itself.

Elisha knows where the real power is, it’s simply the Lord at work.

Paul wrote,

(Gal 2:8 KJV) (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)


The power is God.

It’s not you. It’s not some magic incantation. It’s not some magic force called “faith” that does the work. It’s the Lord.
He wants to work through you the same as He has worked through others.
Warren Wiersbe:
It was one thing to cross Jordan with Elijah, but quite another to step out by faith by himself. But when you trust “the Lord God of Elijah,” you do not need Elijah too.


The problem is me

Where is the God of Elijah? Why don’t we see the same miracles today?
And we do see miracles. Not too many, but we see them. I have this feeling that Nancy Sims’ healing is a miracle.
God has not changed. God has not gone on a vacation.
(Heb 13:8 KJV) Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
I’ve heard Pastor Chuck comment on this, and he suggests that the church in America is caught up too much in materialism.
(Isa 59:1-2 NLT) Listen! The LORD is not too weak to save you, and he is not becoming deaf. He can hear you when you call. {2} But there is a problem--your sins have cut you off from God. Because of your sin, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.
(Mat 13:22 NLT) The thorny ground represents those who hear and accept the Good News, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares of this life and the lure of wealth, so no crop is produced.

I wonder if that isn’t so.

:15 The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha

How did they know? They saw the waters part before Elisha.

:16-18 Search for Elijah

:16 Ye shall not send

It’s really quite a ridiculous idea. Elisha knows where Elijah is, he’s in heaven.

:17 till he was ashamed

(2 Ki 2:17 NLT) But they kept urging him until he was embarrassed

Rather than appearing heartless, he finally allows them to go.

:18 Did I not say unto you, Go not?


Some people have to be allowed to fail.

They just don’t want to hear it from you. They have to find out for themselves that they’re wrong.
When you teach a child to walk, you have to let go at some point and let them fall. Same thing when you teach a child to ride a bike.
I hope I can learn to be an Elisha and size up a situation accurately, and not have to be told and told, and then fail before I understand. But there will be times that I’m a little thick headed. Please be patient with me.

[1]Wiersbe, W. W. (1993). Wiersbe's expository outlines on the Old Testament (2 Ki 1:1). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.