So Elijah went from there and found Elisha… Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around …Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant. ~ From 1 Kings 19
Elijah and Elisha… two peas in a pod? Seems like they should be. Both of them are prophets. Both of them did amazing miracles through the power of God. Both of them killed and burned oxen. Both of them had servants. Both of them raised the dead sons of widows. Their names sound alike and are often confused. They are like twins separated at birth!
Not really. And that is what makes their partnership … actually a mentor/mentee relationship … so powerful. We do not have much information about their time together. It came after Elijah’s mountaintop moments, when his biggest role had been played. It ended when a fiery chariot carried the fiery prophet away to be with the Lord forever. In case you have a doubt about that, it is Elijah and Moses who are chatting with Jesus in the Transfiguration a long long time later.
Elijah and Elisha seem much different in temperament, tone, and confidence. After Elijah dispenses with the prophets of Baal and promises Ahab that it is about to rain, he has an anxiety attack. He puts his head between his knees and sends his servant out seven times to see if there might be a cloud. When Elisha tells Naaman (via a servant) to go dip in the Jordan River seven times in order to be rid of leprosy, he doesn’t even look out the window to see if it happened. Elijah was known to King Ahab as the ‘troubler of Israel‘; Elisha’s power and wisdom were sought out by kings. We could continue on, but you can read the stories. These two prophets were both called by God, but they were cut from different cloth.
Early on in Scripture God lets us know that even if we’re brothers, we are not identical twins. Although we live in a cultural climate that clamors for people to be tolerant and accepting of differences, some of the people who speak the loudest about such are the least so. As far as I can see, the purveyors of tolerance are no more tolerant than the rest of us.
God, the Magnificent Creator, who made such a vibrant and fascinating world values variety. In your church environment there are all sorts of people. Thank God that they are not all scholars, not all somber, not all class clowns, not all country, not all city, not all urban, not all urbane. As a result when they open His word they might not all see the same thing you do. We’ve all got room to grow, friends.
We need the spirit of Elijah, passing on the mantle to others, sharing with them the glorious gospel that has come to be settled in our hearts. Elijah does not resent Elisha’s role in God’s story. He welcomes the opportunity to pass along a double measure of his strength.
We need the spirit of Elisha, absorbing and learning from those who have been on this path a long time. Elisha did not shrink back from responsibility, learning, reaching a place where he can capably embrace the next vision of God.
Your church is full of Elijahs and Elishas. You are an Elijah, and an Elisha. And together we will know our God, speak His word, and embrace the mission. If we do not work together to pass it on, the next generation will be missing a vital voice.
Thanks for reading,