Psalm 27:13, “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.”
May I introduce to you two of the greatest men in the Bible? Their names are pronounced almost exactly alike. One is named Elijah and the other is named Elisha. Elijah was the older of these two men. He it was who was called by King Ahab during a famine a troublemaker. Ahab blamed Elijah for causing this famine. Elijah pointed his finger to Ahab and said I did not cause this famine you did!
Elijah was a great man, a powerful man, and a man’s man. God deliver me from sissy men and their fish handshakes. “Preacher, don’t you love everybody? Yes, but I don’t’ like everybody!” Ha! I do not want a sissy man shaking my hand and tingling. Elijah was a powerful strong masculine man.
It was he who challenged the prophets of Baal to a contest to see who could pray down fire from Heaven to consume a sacrifice on an altar. It was he who told the prophets of Baal to put their sacrifices on the altar and pray to their gods and if their gods sent fire to consume their sacrifice then Elijah would worship their gods! If that did not work then Elijah would pray to his God and if his God sent fire then they would worship his God.
They put their sacrifice on the altar and prayed for their god to answer, but no god is going to answer except the true and living God. So they prayed!
Now I like Elijah – he made fun of them! They cried, “Oh Baal, hear us, hear us, and send fire!” Elijah said, “Why don’t you cry a little louder for he may be near or he may be on a hunting trip.” Elijah said maybe he is pursuing or hunting – he’ll be back!
The Scriptures say they were so upset they actually cut themselves in frustration. Elijah steps up and says men I am about to show you who the real God is! Elijah says, “I want you to pour seven barrels of water on the sacrifice. Oh, don’t worry our God can send fire on a wet sacrifice as well as a dry sacrifice.”
Elijah then prays after the water is poured on the sacrifice and says show these men that thou art the living God! The fire then came down and consumed the sacrifice. Elijah is a great man!
In our story, there was a younger man named Elisha. A very wise man and he said, “I’m going to hang around Elijah. I’m going to watch him and I’m going attempt to emulate him in my life and in my ministry.” Elijah and Elisha had been to a place called Gilgal and Elijah decided to get to Bethel for the Lord told him to go to Bethel.
Elijah said to the younger man Elisha, “You stay here and I’m going on to Bethel.” Elisha said, “As the Lord liveth and as thy soul liveth I will not leave thee.” So, Elijah went to Bethel and then Elijah said to Elisha, “I’m going to go to Jericho and you stay here.” Elisha once again said, “As the Lord liveth and as thy soul liveth I will not leave thee.” Every young man of God should hang around men of God and so it was with Elisha at Bethel and at Jericho.
Then Elijah said, “I’ve got to go to Jordan, and Elisha you stay here.” Elisha said for the third time the same thing, “As the Lord liveth and as thy soul liveth I will not leave thee.” So, Elisha goes with Elijah!
Word got out that Elijah was going to be taken up into Heaven. He was not going to die, but a chariot would take him up into Heaven. Elijah said to Elisha, “Is there anything I can do for you before I go?” Elisha said, “I’d like a double portion of your spirit to fall on me.”
I like a young preacher like that! Elijah said, “If you see me go up into Heaven and you catch my mantle then a double portion of my spirit will fall on you. However, if you don’t see me leave it will not be so.”
So, Elisha stayed right beside Elijah. He would not let Elijah out of his sight. Finally came the horses and chariot from Heaven to take the man of God up into Heaven. Elisha saw it! Elijah dropped his mantle and Elisha picked up his mantle. Elisha smote the same Jordan River Elijah had smitten before and shouted, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” That is a good question but I have a better one, “Where are the Elijah’s of the Lord God?”
Elisha hung around Elijah the man of God and Elisha received his mantle. He took the mantel and smote the Jordan River and the Jordan River parted just like it did for Elijah. Though both were great men Elisha did receive a double portion of Elijah’s spirit.
- Elijah performed seven miracles
- Elisha performed fourteen miracles
Elijah was discouraged one time for Jezebel said she would kill him. Elijah said oh not you will not for you’ll have to catch me first. The truth is Elijah had no choice but to run for if he had whipped her how would that look and if she whipped him he’d been destroyed for sure!
Elijah became discouraged but we have no record of Elisha ever becoming discouraged. Elijah had a better-known name but the truth is Elisha was a better man. Elisha was more successful at fighting idolatry than Elijah. Elisha never ran from a woman were as Elijah did.
The Scriptures tell us that a whirlwind came, horses and a chariot came from Heaven and Elijah is taken to Heaven.
- No lingering illness
- No pain that racked his body
- No death bed that lurked
- No family lingered beside his bed as his body withered
- No doctor attended
- No gradual decay
- No strength that waned
What a fortunate man! He was caught up into Heaven! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Jesus came while you were reading this article? What a deal for Elijah!
May I take you from this event to another event?
- A dark room
- A sick prophet named Elisha
- A gradual decline in his health
- A lingering illness
- A slow and painful death
- An earthly house of his tabernacle being dismantled bit by bit
Note the difference for here is Elijah being caught up into Heaven and does not die. On the other hand here is Elisha gradually wilting away to nothing physically. He suffers the pain of a gradual death with his family watching him as he lingers and lingers and lingers with his earth house being dismantled piece by piece.
Please forgive me but to me, this just does not make sense! I thought Elisha was the best Christian; the best of the two, and in my opinion deserved the blessings of God more than Elijah.
Elijah the less deserving was caught up into Heaven without pain, suffering, lingering, and gradual decay. Whereas Elisha the strongest of the two, the better of the two, the more productive of the two, the one greater used of God of the two, lingered, and died a gradual death while being the lesser of the two escaped the sting of death. The truth is I do not understand!
Elisha was visited on his deathbed by King Joash and the king rubbed salt into his wounds by quoting “The chariot of Israel and the horseman thereof” reminding him of Elijah’s translation to Heaven. He had to compare Elijah’s departure to his.
He had seen how Elijah had been taken to Heaven without dying. Here Elisha is lingering, suffering, agonizing, and pain as he slowly and painfully enters into the jaws of death.
Elisha died and never knew why he had to die and yet Elijah didn’t! Elisha died and never knew why he had to suffer and Elijah didn’t! Elisha died and never knew why he had to gradually wilt away and Elijah didn’t! It just does not make sense? Elisha was more valuable to God and to man than Elijah. It doesn’t make sense nor does it seem fair.
Shortly after Elisha’s death, there was an invasion by the Moabites. Elisha is dead and Elijah is caught up into Heaven with Elisha dying a slow and lingering death. The Moabites are attacking and Elisha is dead.
In an emergency, they took a dead man’s body to the grave of Elisha. They lowered that dead man’s body down into the grave and when the dead man’s body touched the body of Elisha the dead man came to life again. This dead man is living because he touched the dead body of Elisha. I would imagine that up in Heaven Elisha had a spell while Elijah just looked with awe!
If you compare a man being taken to Heaven in a chariot to a man whose body can give life to a dead man there is no comparison. Elisha did receive the biggest blessing because he continued to give life to dead men.
However, Elisha did not know about this until he went to Heaven. The truth is there is always a “why.” There was a why, but Elisha did not know about it until he died and until he went to Heaven.
- There is a why
- It is not always revealed here
- It is the people who suffer the most who touch the most people
- The people who touch the most lives live the longest