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Elijah taken to Heaven-- 2 Kings 2
Elijah taken to Heaven
2 Kings 2

This morning we are going to take a look at 2 Kings 2. In this chapter Elijah is miraculously taken to Heaven and and the baton of leadership is passed to the prophet Elisha

If you have been reading along in 1 Kings and now 2 Kings, you will know that Elijah was a very special man whom God used to speak his message to a number of the kings of Israel (and particularly the wicked King Ahab).

Elijah may be best known for his showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel. (1 Kings 18) On this mountain a contest was held to determine who the true God is: The LORD or Baal. God won.

Elijah's ministry was not always well received for Ahab and his wife tried repeatedly to kill him (for he did not hesitate in calling them to repent of their sin and of their idol worship)

Over the course of his ministry Elijah, by the Spirit of God, performed a number of miracles, and spoke many words of God to various people.

Elijah also had a couple of very unique experiences with God-- a. being fed by ravens (whom the Lord had him bring food when he was hiding in the wilderness) b. Seeing the back of God and His glory on Mount Sinai and hearing the Spirits voice.

Elijah also had a very distinctive look: For he had a garment of hair and had a leather belt around his waist.

Amongst the prophets of the Old Testament, Elijah is greatly revered (an empty place is left for him at the table at every Passover meal)

In the NT Elijah serves as a type for John the Baptist and his ministry. (For John dressed similarly and his message was the same-- repent of your sins and turn and follow God.

In Malachi 4:5 a great prophecy was made about Elijah "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD." The belief being that before the coming of the Promised Messiah, Elijah would come and announce his arrival.

In Matthew 11:13-14 Jesus announces that John the Baptist was the fulfillment of a great prophecy associated with Elijah.

Following his showdown with the prophets of Baal God had Elijah set Elisha apart as his successor (1 Kings 19). Without hesitation Elisha followed Elijah becoming his personal attendant. See Luke 9:62

This brings us to 2 Kings 2. In this chapter Elijah is taken to Heaven in a whirlwind and Elisha succeeds him. READ TEXT
Note as read that the thought that Elijah had been carried by Spirit to another place actually occurs in the case of Philip in Acts 8 - for after he shares the message of Christ with the Ethiopian eunuch and baptizes him he is carried off by the Spirit to a city called Azotus.


THOUGHTS, LESSONS, PRINCIPLES OF THE TEXT

1. Elijah and Elisha's parting and crossing of the Jordan River is laden with meaning

The parting of the water reminds us of when Joshua and the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground -- for when the Ark was carried to it with Joshua and the people behind, the waters parted and the ground became firm.

Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan river

In the Jordan Naaman bathed (2 Kings 6) and by the word of the LORD was healed of his leprosy

The crossing of the Jordan is also symbolic as a picture for entering into Heaven (Israelites crossed on way into Promised Land). Elijah crosses and is then taken up to Heaven.

Song: And then one day, I'll cross the river....

Connected to this symbolism is the event of Elijah's being taken up to Heaven

2. Elijah's being taken up to Heaven is meant to cause us to think of Heaven and the life to come

At the centre of our text is the dramatic taking of Elijah to Heaven

For his service and as a sign that death is not the end and Heaven is a real place, God took Elijah to Heaven without his dying.

As the followers of Christ we look forward to seeing Christ and our being welcomed into our Heavenly home (which Jesus has gone to prepare for us- John 14:1-6

Hebrews 13:14 says; ' For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. "

Philippians 3:20-21 says; 'But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."


Furthermore, Elijah's translation also reminds us that not everyone will die

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 says; "Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15According to the Lord's word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words."

We are to serve Christ here faithfully knowing that will meet him in Heaven and be rewarded by him.



3. Elisha is an often overlooked figure in the Bible. He shouldn't be- for he serves as a TYPE for CHRIST

In the Bible there are a number of people who by their lives, character, and ministry serve as types for Christ. i.e Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon in his wisdom and Elisha

As Elijah serves as a type for the person and ministry of John the Baptist, Elisha serves as type for the ministry of Christ.***

Miracles of Elisha -that remind us of Jesus - (look for these as you read over the next week or 2)

-cleansing of a leper (Naaman) (Jesus did the same)
-healed the sick
-raised a woman's dead son to life
-Miraculously fed a large group of men with a limited amount of bread

Of all the prophets of the Old Testament, Elisha performed the most miracles (parting the Jordan with Elijah's cloak, healing the waters of their sickness, rendering a poisonous stew edible, cursing Gehazi with leprosy, causing an axe head to float, smiting the Syrian army with blindness, restoring sight to the Syrian army, etc)

Elisha's very name reminds us of Christ and his ministry. Elisha means "My God saves". Jesus means "Savior!"

As pronounced as Elisha was as a type for Christ- he merely points us to Jesus-- for Elisha was a sinner just like us and he needed a Savior just like us-- that why Jesus came-- to save us from our sins and the judgment to come.

Go to Jesus while you can for the forgiveness of your sins!

4. The tenacity of Elisha in following Elijah around is what we are to have in following Christ. v.2,4,6

Elisha stuck to Elijah like glue.

No matter what Elijah did he followed him saying "As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you."

Funny: Everyone knew that it was Elijah's last day on earth. Note how abrupt Elisha was with them "Yes, I know, so be quiet"

Point: When it comes to following Christ we need to have the same stick-to-it-ness as Elisha. We need to persevere! We need to stay faithful through thick and thin.

We need the same attitude as Job "Though he slay me, yet I will hope in Him" Job 13:15


5. When our hearts are right and our requests line up with God's will, our prayers will be answered (in His time and way)

When it comes to asking of God, we always need to ask with the right heart (not having impure motives or having sin standing in our way) and we need to ask what is in accord with His Will. When we do this, the answer will be Yes (though often we will have to wait)

In v.9-10 Elijah says to Elisha, "Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?"
"Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit," Elisha replied. "You have asked a difficult thing," Elijah said, "yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours-otherwise, it will not."

What an interesting request "A double portion"

For sure Elisha was not saying he wanted power for powers sake. Neither was Elisha saying "I want to be twice as powerful as you". Rather the spirit of Elisha was "I want to do God's work and I need God's Spirit to do it" I want manifestations of the Spirit and the power of God in my life-- not for my sake but for God's glory.

The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Remember how Jesus began "This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:9-10

God blessed Elisha's petition! The fruit of which was immediately shown and then so for the rest of his ministry days


6. Just as Elisha relied upon the Holy Spirit to do ministry, so should we

Immediate examples of the power of the Spirit being upon Elisha

a. He struck the water with Elijah's garment and the waters parted just as they had done for Elijah
b. Shortly after he healed the poisoned waters of the nearby city of Jericho

Note how this miracle points to Christ- Jesus came to heal the land by forgiving the sin of people who come to him in faith and repentance. Streams of living water to come from Christ (by this Jesus meant the Spirit and yet the allusion fits)

c. Even in the judgement of the youths, the power of Spirit is seen to be upon Elisha

All Elisha does is speak. God is the one that confirms his words of judgment so vindicating that His seal of approval and protection was upon Elisha

Such were not toddlers but youths, even into their twenties and thirties (so reckoned by the term as it is applied to others in the Old Testament). That there was such a large number of them lying in wait for Elisha would have been most unnerving (I read of one youth being swarmed by 10 other -- now imagine their being 42 and more at one time-- all jeering, all threatening, all coming close, all expressing hostility)

Do not feel sorry for them!


Further application

We need the Spirit's filling and power. Apart from Christ and the Spirit that He gives, we can do nothing

At our conversion, when we were born again, the Holy Spirit came and indwelt us.

The same Holy Spirit who came upon Christ at his baptism and who led Him, empowered Him, and directed His speech, indwells us

We to be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 says; "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,"

Apart from Christ we can do nothing: So let's always look to Jesus for His help and strength.


Closing song: Let your kingdom come!