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Where is the God of Elijah?

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Sermon on 2 Kings 2.1-18

Title:  Where is the God of Elijah?

Sermon Theme:  God passes on his Spirit to the next generation of leaders.

Goal: to encourage believers that God passes on his Spirit to the next generation of leaders.

Need:  We often see tasks not be accomplished quickly and we wonder why God hasn’t accomplished them.

Outline:

  1. Introduction-
  2. The End of Elijah’s ministry
    1. We are okay with it- Elisha is already the one following him.
    2. We are not okay with it.  Much is left undone
  3. The Persisting of Elisha to the conclusion.
  4. The Passing on of the Spirit to Elisha.
  5. Conclusion.

Message

Congregation,

          Last weeks sermon, I tried something a little different.  I have to tell you, I feel a little bit so-so about the feedback I got.  You all were so encouraging of me and the way I tried things last time, I feel like I better try it again.  I sure hope we can match what we did last time.

          Its going to be a little bit different this time for one simple reason.  The themes of the chapter that we are looking at this week are almost all completely different from the themes that we saw coming up throughout the rest of the life and times of Elijah.

          Does anyone remember some of the themes we heard all throughout Elijah’s life and ministry?

          God is greater than the other Gods.

          God is the only true God.

          God uses the prophet to return his people to him and his word.

          Others?

          Chapter 2 is a chapter that has a huge transition in it.  The passage don’t speak at all of the false gods over Israel.  The kings and queens of Israel aren’t mentioned once. The passage doesn’t bring up some grave dilemma where someone life is being tested or taken like the times of famine in Israel.  This chapter is so completely different because it is the transition chapter from the life and times of Elijah to the life and times of Elisha.  It’s a big transition.

          So, now with that heads-up.  I want you to actively listen to the passage, and think again about themes.  What message is imbedded into this passage that was true for the original listeners.  What message has been locked away in these words for everyone who has the word of God to open up and interpret?

Read 2 Kings 2:1-18

          Verse 1.  There is something very wrong about the way this passage begins.  It says, “When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.[1]”

          Read 1 Kings 19:15-16.  This is after Mt. Carmel and then he has that huge faith crisis where he runs from God and his calling, then recommits himself to the calling from God after hearing the gentle whisper of the presence of God.  These are the things God recommissions Elijah to do.  

15 The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet.[2]

So what’s the Problem?  He hasn’t accomplished most of them.  He’s anointed Elisha to be the prophet.  He hasn’t anointed Hazael or Jehu.

One of the toughest things to do while we are interpreting Scripture is to be aware when our issues and concerns aren’t shared by the passage.  From the text itself is it concerned that that God told Elijah he would Annoint Hazael in Aram and Jehu king in Israel?  We had to go back to 1 Kings to remember those names. 

What issue or problem is our text for today offering the solution to?

Who is going to CARRY ON IN THE SPIRIT OF ELIJAH?  Accomplishing the tasks is secondary.  Will God bring someone to lead as a prophet, to hold the people accountable for when they wander away from God.

If we want the passage to speak to us, how is might we experience that fear today?

Elisha has been Elijah’s right hand man.  We find pretty quickly something about Elisha.  Verses 1-6.  Have kind of a repeating step pattern.

You can follow it this way.  And the drama heightens each time.

Elijah: Stay

Elisha: NO

Together:  Bethel

Prophets: Elijah’s going

Elisha:  Don’t want to hear it.

Elijah: Stay

Elisha: NO

Together: Jericho

Prophets:  Elijah’s going

Elisha: Don’t want to hear it.

Elijah: Stay

Elisha NO

Together: Jordan

Prophets:   OH WAIT  pattern changes.  Something different is going to happen.

But if our question is WHO’s Going to Carry On in the Spirit of Elisha, what are we discovering about Elisha that makes us start to think he might be the one?

Persistant

Faithful

Stick with the word of God through to the end.

 

How applied today?

Now on to the something different that’s happening.

What do the 50 prophets do in verse 7.  They stop.  The next part is about what they had already asked.  Elijah will be taken.  Elisha doesn’t want to talk about it.  He just wants to be with his mentor.

Now, verse 8 tell me what this sounds like? 

 

8 Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.[3]

Moses Crossing the Red Sea with the Israelites.  Keep that in the back of your mind for now. 

On to the next step.  This is finally getting to the heart of the issue.  In verses 9-10 Elijah asks Elisha what he can do for him before he is taken.  Then Elisha says this, ““Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,”

Sounds like a double portion is asking for Elisha is asking for twice as much spirit as Elijah had.  Actually he is asking to be the spiritual firstborn.  Deuteronomy 21:15 says if a man has two children one to his favorite wife, one to a wife he doesn’t love so much, the child who is first born gets double what the other one did.  It’s the right of the firstborn.

What is Elisha asking for?  He wants twice the spirit that everyone else has, but more importantly, he wants to be the firstborn heir of Elijah’s Spirit.

Do you remember what the sign will be if he gets this double portion of the Spirit?

He will see Elijah go up to heaven.

The climax of the passage that everyone remembers from this passage is Elijah going up to heaven in a chariot of fire.  Actually he goes up in the whirlwind, not the chariot.  But either way, God is showing himself to be the God of power in war and nature.  That’s the height of the action and it is the end of the life of Elijah.  It ends the life and times of Elijah.

But it is not the end of the ministry of Elijah.  Because what happened?  Can we be sure that Elisha is the heir of spirit of Elijah? 

He saw.

Verse 12 He sees him go and then sees him no more.  Elisha should be the heir of the mission of Elijah.

Then we step down again.  On their way out of Israel, Elijah uses the cloak to split the water.  On the way back, Elisha uses it.  The water Splits.  If there was any question about who the successor to Elijah would be, question no more. 

And the final step of the story goes back to the fifty prophets.  They look for Elijah.  No evidence of him, a body, a burial site, anything. 

Where else did a person split the water?

Where else?

What is the relationship of Moses and Joshua.  Joshua is the successor of Moses.

Do you see any other similarities between Moses-Joshua and Elijah-Elisah?

-crossing the rivers.

-Moses taken away before crossing again.

-Moses never buried.

-Spirit Passed On

So what does this passage do for the original listeners?  Theres the question that Elisha asks in verse 14.  “Where now is  the Lord, the God of Elijah?” 

Hope, encouragement that God’s spirit is with the next generation.

Elisha inherits the tasks of Elijah.  He will anoint Hazael and Jehu. 

Does this same thing happen for New Testament Israel: the church?

Yes!!  With Christ, Pentecost.  The Spirit is passed on from master to followers.

What encouragment does that give us for today?

Spirit is passed on from Christ to those who follow him.

And we need to take that out of the realm of theory. 

What should give us confidence for? 

What application do you hear God giving to you through the passage?

God won’t let his church fall.

God will raise up leaders

Our nominations and votes are for people who are faithful, persistent, gifted in the work of elders and deacons.

God raises up generation after generation of leader


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[1] The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. 2 Ki 2:1

[2] The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. 1 Ki 19:15-16

[3] The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. 2 Ki 2:8

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