Devotional Week 5 Wednesday
“You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to honor and glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And I have no delight or desire on earth besides You.”
Psalm 73: 24, 25
Our Best Friend
“In the mid-silence of the voiceless night,
When, chased by airy dreams, the slumbers flee,
Whom, in the darkness, doth my spirit seek,
O God, but Thee?
And if there be a weight upon my breast,
Some vague impression of the day foregone,
Scarce knowing what it is, I fly to Thee
And lay it down.
Or if it be the heaviest that comes,
In token of anticipated ill,
My bosom takes no heed of what it is,
Since ‘tis Thy will.
For oh! in spite of past and present care,
Or anything besides, how joyfully
Passes that almost solitary hour,
My God, with Thee!
More tranquil than the stillness of the night,
More peaceful than the stillness of that hour,
More blest than anything, my bosom lies
Beneath Thy power.
For what is there on earth that I desire,
Of all that it can give or take away from me?
Or whom in heaven doth my spirit seek,
O God, but Thee?”
This hymn, “Our Best Friend: was found many years ago when cleaning out an old cottage in England. The author is unknown.
Today’s Study Text:
1. “Fifty men of the sons of the prophets also went and stood to watch afar off; and the two of them stood by the Jordan. And Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up and struck the waters, and they divided this way and that, so that the two of them went over on dry ground. And when they had gone over, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.’ And Elisha said, ‘I pray you, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.’ (Elijah) said, ‘You have asked a hard thing. However, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you – but if not, it shall not be so.’ As they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire parted the two of them, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it and he cried, ‘My father, my father! The chariot of Israel and its horseman!’ And he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan. And (Elisha) took the mantle that fell from Elijah and struck the waters and said, ‘Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?’ And when he had struck the waters, they parted this way and that, and Elisha went over.”
II Kings 2: 7-14
2. “Elisha died, and they buried him. Bands of the Moabites invaded the land in the spring of the next year. As a man was being buried on an open bier, such a band was seen coming; and the man was cast into Elisha’s grave. And when the man being let down touched the bones of Elisha, he revived an stood on his feet.”
II Kings 13: 20, 21
“Great Is Thy Faithfulness” Part 3
“A Double Portion and More”
“The most crooked tree will make timber for the temple, if God be pleased to hew it.”
What do I think Elisha wanted in his life when he asked for a double portion of the “spirit of Elijah”?
In what ways have I witnessed God’s Spirit at work in my own life?
“What God is and has, He is and has for all His people’s good.”
William S. Plumer
“God’s cause is never in danger; what He has begun in the soul or in the world He will complete unto the end.”
When we look back on the connection between the lives of Elijah and Elisha, it becomes very clear that God’s faithfulness was an important part of the ministry of these two Biblical heroes.
This is why I want to spend a few moments looking backward as we come to the time in Elisha’s life where, as the Bible states, “He dies.”
In order to understand the significance of Elisha’s death, it is critical we go back in time and reflect on the departure of Elijah in a chariot of fire to heaven.
As we read yesterday, Elijah had come to the end of his ministry on earth. Even the students at the School of the Prophets were aware of his imminent absence. I’m not exactly certain why Elijah kept insisting that Elisha should discontinue his journey and leave his side. Without a doubt it wasn’t because Elijah thought that Elisha lacked a persevering spirit for Elijah had witness the tenacity and dedicated determination of his “spiritual son.”
While these two men of God continued their journey together, Elijah turned to his younger counterpart and asked, “Is there anything you want? Can I get you anything at all?”
When I read this passage, my mind turned to a similar request God made of the young Solomon who was taking over as King of Israel. Filling King David’s shoes would be an almost impossible task and so God came to David’s son Solomon and asked him, “What can I give you?” In a spirit of humble need, Solomon did not ask for wealth or fame. Instead he asked God to give him wisdom to rule with a Godly heart.
Now, many years later, with the impending departure of Elijah, the younger Elisha recognized that he too would need the powerful hand of the Almighty to guide him. As visualized in the life of Elijah, Elisha chose to ask for a “double spirit” upon his life. Interestingly, this request is really a reflection of the Hebrew phrase found in Deuteronomy 21: 17, which gives the oldest son a “double portion” of all that the father possessed. Elisha’s request reflects the fact that his relationship with Elijah set him in a place where he was the spiritual elder son of Elijah. It is an important fact to note that Elisha was not attempting a “power grab”, signaling that he automatically felt he would take the place of Elijah. Elisha knew full well that it was the call of God that would declare who would follow Elijah.
This is why on Elisha’s solo walk back to the Jordan River, as he used the mantle of Elijah to part a path through the river, the 50 sons of the prophets who witnessed this miraculous moment, spoke out without hesitancy, ‘The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha” (II Kings 2: 15, Amplified Bible).
I have chosen to take some time to remind us that God’s purpose, not only for your life and mine, but down through history is a purpose unchanged by human events or by specific individuals. I find the insight of Dale Ralph Davis extremely helpful: “God’s power is not limited to a certain instrument…realizing this should prevent us from idolizing certain servants of God. The (sons of the prophets) likely wondered, ‘What will we do now that Elijah is no longer with us?” If we think that, we must, like Elisha himself, look for the God of Elijah to be with us. Our help is in the name of the Lord not in the charisma of His servants. God’s leaders change, God’s power persists.” And I’ll add, His purpose also persists.
It is this singular point which is found at work at the end of Elisha’s life. All during the life of Elijah and Elisha, God’s chosen people were blessed with the prophetic ministry of two of God’s most honorable servants. Just as Elijah was called to lay down his tools and rest from his ministry on earth, so came the day when his “spiritual” son’s work was done.
This time, however, it wasn’t the students at the School of the Prophets who were questioning how God would lead in the future. It was the godless and heathen leaders. The fact is that the idol worshipping Moabites decided to make “marauding expeditions” into what they may have surmised was the vulnerable land of Israel. These foreign invaders may have asked the same question which was voiced after Elijah’s death – “Where is the God of Elisha?” They may well have thought that the “miracle worker’s” death meant the end of Israel’s defense. If the foreign nations thought that when Elisha died, so did his God, they were sorely disappointed. The power of God that infused Elisha's life all during his earthly ministry was still at work. The God of Israel. . . the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. . . your God and mine was alive and well. The Almighty God of heaven and earth -- our eternal Father was at work at that time in history, just as He is today. We should never think otherwise!
But then, an event took place which showed in a most dramatic fashion not only the Moabites and the Israelites, but you and me, as well, that God’s power and His purpose through time is unchanging. We would do well never to limit our heavenly Father’s ability – never! For just when the countries around Israel thought God’s power depleted, when the bones of a dead man touched Elisha’s dead bones, the man was raised from the dead.
I love the way author Betty Southard, with practical words which relate to you and me today, helps us understand how our Eternal Father’s hand works, not just in the lives of Elijah and Elisha, but in your life and mine as well: “We all get caught up in the daily details of life, and it can hinder our seeing the bigger plan God has for us. Our immediate problems overwhelm us and seem to obliterate God’s promises. God, on the other hand, sees the bigger picture and wants us to focus in on what He is accomplishing in our lives. God’s lessons are surrounding us daily, if only we are willing to set aside our busyness and open our eyes to see and ears to hear.”
“When God sets His seal on (your) heart by His Spirit, there is some holy stamp, some image impressed and left upon (your) heart by the Spirit, as by the seal upon the wax.”
“As they were walking together, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘What is there I can do for you before I leave?’ And Elisha said, ‘I want to have God’s Spirit upon my life, just as it has been upon your life.”
Paraphrase of II Kings 2: 9
Wilt Thou Not Visit Me?
“The plant beside me feels Thy gentle dew,
And every blade of grass I see
From Thy deep earth its quickening moisture drew.
Wilt Thou not visit me?
Thy morning calls on me with cheering tone;
And every hill and tree
Lend but one voice – the voice of Thee alone.
Come, for I need Thy love,
More than the flower the dew or grass the rain;
Come, gently as Thy holy dove;
And let me in Thy sight rejoice to live again.
I will not hide from them
When Thy storms come, though fierce may be,
But bow with leafy stem,
And strengthened follow on Thy chosen path.
Yes, Thou wilt visit me;
Nor plant nor tree Thine eye delights so well,
As, when from sin set free,
My spirit loves with Thine in peace to dwell.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus