This is the study guide for the thirteenth and final installment of the Elijah Series. You can read it below, or download a pdf version(coming soon!) to review or print. Click here to download or listen to the sermon for Part 13.
Passing the Mantle
Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over. (2 Kings 2:13-15, NIV)
Relationships are the life line of the Christian faith. Christianity is, at its core, a relationship with the Creator through His Son, Jesus Christ. It is also relationships with others through our common Lord, example, and teacher, Jesus. Loving God with all our being and loving others as we love ourselves is the focus, purpose, and end of all that the Scriptures teach. This is how the mantle of a living faith is passed from one generation to the next and this is how Elijah spent the last decade of his fourteen year ministry.
Elijah’s final day on earth was a busy one. He walked approximately thirty miles of dusty roads under the burning Middle Eastern sun as he made his way to the various “schools of the prophets” that he had founded. Joining him every step of the way was his servant and successor, Elisha.
As we read the account recorded for us in 2 Kings, chapter 2, we notice several things. To begin with, all of the prophets in each of the schools Elijah visited knew that this was his final day. How did they know this? Elijah certainly did not tell them. But Elijah had faithfully trained these men to hear the voice of the Living God. It must have been a source of great joy for the prophet to realize that his students knew more than just the recorded Scriptures. They were learning how to discern and recognize the voice of God’s Spirit.
A second thing that stands out in this story is the persistence of Elisha. Several times Elijah turns to his successor-to-be and gives him the opportunity to stay behind avoiding the heat and dusty roads. Each time Elisha refuses. We recognize the significance of this when the two men cross over the Jordan and Elijah turns to Elisha and asks if there is anything he can do for Elisha before the Lord takes him. Elisha responds by asking for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. This was a humble request as Elisha is acknowledging that He needs twice as much of God’s Spirit to be the man that Elijah was. But what is interesting here is the response of Elijah to Elisha. He tells him that this is a difficult thing that he asks, but if he sees Elijah taken from him he will receive that double portion he seeks. The meaning is clear and points to the faithfulness and endurance of Elisha described throughout the chapter.
The story ends with Elisha literally receiving the mantle of Elijah. With this mantle he walks back to the Jordan where the two men crossed on dry ground after Elijah struck the waters. Elisha takes that same mantle, strikes the waters, and cries out, “Where is the God of Elijah?” Immediately the waters part and the prophet crosses back over the Jordan and assuming leadership of the “schools of the prophets.” God’s living presence and word is now clearly seen in the life and leadership of Elisha.
This is what we are called to do in the church of the living God. Passing the mantle of a living faith that recognizes the presence, power, and faithfulness of God and His Word. Everything else we do in the church comes down to this. It is important to teach doctrine. It is vital to encourage disciples to spend time in the Scriptures. But in the end, the goal is to pass on the bright and burning torch of a living faith to others. An excellent example of this is the faith passed down to young Timothy by his grandmother Lois and mother, Eunice. (2 Timothy 1:5)
In this day of text messages, emails, Facebook, and all the other virtual reality relationship tools, we need to learn to connect face to face, one on one. It is the only way to preserve, protect, and pass on the living faith that God has given us through His Son, Jesus.
Think About It
- Is it possible for us to know the Scripture, but never learn to recognize God’s living word in our lives?
- Do you agree or disagree with this statement – Unless we learn to hear the living word of God, His written word, the Bible will be nothing more than a book of principles, truths, and wonderful stories with valuable life lessons that fall short of experiencing a real living relationship with God.
- A willingness to “endure to the end” as Elisha demonstrates is a vital ingredient to experiencing all of God’s presence, power, and purpose in our lives. Why do you think this is such a vital teaching in our Bibles?