Study Notes

2Kings 2:13-25


As we left off last time in 2Kings, we saw that Elijah was taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire. Elisha was standing there when it happened, and Scripture records his reaction:

2Kgs. 2:12 And Elisha saw {it} and cried out, "My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!" And he saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

What did he mean by, "My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen?" Chariots and horsemen were representative of a country's strength and protection. A man of God is of more value to a country than its weapons of war. For the godly man protects his country by intercession and prayer.

Notice too that he tore his clothes. Ever since the days of the book of Genesis, the Jews would tear their clothes to show sorrow, grief, or anger. For example, Jacob tore his clothes when he heard the report of the death of his son Joseph. David and his men also tore their clothes when they discovered that Saul and Jonathan had been killed.

However, the law forbade the high priests from this practice, because his garments were consecrated. Leviticus 21 says,

Lev. 21:10 And the priest who is the highest among his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil has been poured, and who has been consecrated to wear the garments, shall not uncover his head, nor tear his clothes

Remember that when Jesus told the high priest that He was the Christ, the Son of God,

Matt. 26:65 ...the high priest tore his robes, saying, "He has blasphemed! ..."

One of many ways that the Jews broke the Law of God while persecuting Jesus for breaking man's religious law.

So Elisha was grieved at Elijah's passing. Now, as we pick up at verse 13, we read of Elisha's return.

2:13 The Mantle Of Elijah

Elisha picked up the mantle of Elijah. This was the mantle in which Elijah had wrapped his face when he walked out to the entrance of the cave (1Kings 19:13). The same mantle that he had thrown on Elisha (1Kings 19:19) when calling him to serve the Lord with him.

Now Elisha is carrying it. The mantle becomes symbolic of the prophet's authority and office.

2:14 Parting The Waters

As Elisha struck the waters of the Jordan with Elijah's mantle, he said, "Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?" Obviously, if God wasn't with him, he would just stand there feeling foolish, with a dripping wet mantle in his hand. Was the God of Elijah with him? He was about to find out.

The waters of the Jordan did miraculously part. As a matter of fact, the last miracle that Elijah performed becomes the first miracle that Elisha performs. This is something that we should pay attention to - those of us who are examples to others, who disciple Christians, who lead people in the body of Christ. The method of ministry that someone's master uses usually becomes their method as well.

If you have no joy, your disciples will have no joy. If you operate in the flesh, those you lead will follow suit. But if you are filled with the Spirit and move in the love of God, those who God has placed around you will see that and model it.

I praise God for the examples I was shown in the pastors and leaders I have had over the years. Guys who were examples of grace and love, of the importance of worship and the Word.

Who are you discipling? Who are you an example to? If they grew to be the same kind of Christian that you are, would you be glad, or disappointed?

Paul was confident of His walk with God, and said,

1Cor. 11:1 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.

And the writer to the Hebrews told them to look around, saying

Hebr. 13:7 Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.

As Elisha followed of Elijah, he became an imitator of his faith.

2:15 The Spirit Of Elijah

It was obvious to the sons of the prophets that, as they saw Elisha crossing the miraculously parted Jordan, that the spirit of Elijah rested on him.

This was an answer to Elisha's request before Elijah was taken up. Remember

2Kgs. 2:9 ...that Elijah said to Elisha, "Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you." And Elisha said, "Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me."

What does it mean when we say, "his spirit" is upon another? It is more than simply having the same heart as Elijah, but it is not so extreme as to mean that he is possessed by Elijah. I believe it was a combination of the heart and attitude of Elijah, combined with a special anointing of God, the same one that He had given to Elijah.

God did the same for John the Baptist, when he came on the scene. His father was told by the angel Gabriel,

Luke 1:17 "And it is he who will go {as a forerunner} before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."

So John came in the spirit and power of Elijah also. This was recognizable by enough people that the priests and Levites asked him directly, "Are you Elijah?" (John 1:21).

Elisha has this same recognizable spirit about him as well as he approaches the sons of the prophets.

2:16-18 Let Us Search

The sons of the prophets had been told that Elijah would be taken up that day. They all told Elijah so before they crossed the Jordan. But now that God has done it, they want to send out a search party to make sure that he wasn't dropped off somewhere. It's amazing how God can speak and mightily reveal Himself, and yet we still struggle in the faith of simply taking Him at His Word.

I found myself in a similar situation last week. God had made His will known, given us a direct Word from Him, and we confidently followed it. But then I thought, "maybe we should check out these other options also. What if this other way is the way to go? Am I sure I heard from the Lord right the first time?" And so, like a faithless fool, I send out my search parties to check the hills and valleys, when all along God has spoken clearly about what He is doing.

We never stop learning about what real faith is. Even after Thomas had walked with the Lord for 3 1/2 years, his faith was far from complete. You remember that after the resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples.

John 20:24-29 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore were saying to him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, "Peace {be} with you." Then He said to Thomas, "Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing." Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed {are} they who did not see, and {yet} believed."

How blessed we are when we believe without seeing! May we continue to learn our lessons in faith.

As for me, I was one of the sons of the prophets last week. But the Lord would have me to be an Elisha instead.

But of course, Elisha wasn't even perfect in the matter. They bugged him so much that he gave in. "What if Elijah has been dropped off on a hill somewhere with no food or water? We must find him! What if he's been deposited into a valley and is in danger of wild beasts?"

Even Elisha's faith began to falter. They made him ashamed to think that he might be abandoning his master somewhere. And so after all that, he told them to send out a search party.

But he knew in his heart it was wrong. And when they returned, he reminded them that he had initially told them not to go.

2:19-22 Purifying The Waters

As Elijah was there in Jericho, the residents pointed out what a nice town it was and what a nice location it sat in. But there was also a major problem: the water was bad - very bad. History records that their spring was so bitter that it actually caused sickness and miscarriages. The land it was watered by was a barren wasteland.

Now we know that water in itself is good. The problems come when there are impurities added to the water, when it is mixed with a corrupting influence. That is when the land becomes unfruitful, and death and disease set in.

Now, we know that in Scripture, water is representative of the Word of God. The Word in and of itself is always pure. But when impurities are added in addition to the Word, that is when unfruitfulness sets in.

Remember the parable of the soils which Jesus taught. There was one plant that grew up from the seed that was sown, but it was choked by thorns. It was unfruitful. Jesus explained it this way:

Mark 4:18-19 "And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, and the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

There was nothing wrong with the Word that was heard. It was the additives that corrupted it - the worry, the money, the carnality, that made it unfruitful.

The same is true in many of our lives - the unfruitfulness in our lives is not the water, but what gets added to it to make it bitter and our lives unfruitful. Our desire for money, for the pleasures of this life, and the worries that these things bring - that is what causes the unfruitfulness.

Elijah fixed the problem by purifying the waters. The impurities need to be eliminated - in this case he did it with salt. Remember that Jesus taught,

Matt. 5:13 "You are the salt of the earth.

Mark 9:50 "...Have salt in yourselves..."

We are the new jar, the new creation, the people with the new heart. We are the salt of the earth, that preserving, purifying influence in the world. If there is unfruitfulness in people who have heard the Word, but are tangled up in sin, we are the ones called to bring purity. We covered this in-depth two Sunday mornings ago in our study of Galatians 6:1-5. If you missed it, you'll want to get the tape.

The effects of that ministry are long-lasting - today, if you go to Jericho, you can drink from this same spring. And I am told that the water is very sweet.

2:23-24 The Boys, The Baldhead, And The Bears

As Elisha travelled, some lads began to hassle him (these could have been junior high or high school age kids). And they were mocking him, saying, "Go up, you baldhead!" First of all, let me say that there is no problem with being bald. The Levitical law addresses this, saying

Lev. 13:40 "Now if a man loses the hair of his head, he is bald; he is clean.

The Bible never condemns a man for being bald. The Bible does, however, condemn mockers and rebellious teenagers. Casting insults at your elders is a good way to bring condemnation upon your head. In this case, two bears tore up 42 of this gang of hoodlums.

2:25 Elisha Returns To Samaria

Elisha returns to Samaria, where God will use him to speak to the king of Israel, just as his predecessor Elijah had done.

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