The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, “The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha.” And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. (2 Kings 2:15 NIV)
God had already told Elijah to go appoint Elisha to be his successor. Yet this episode is still remarkable for the tenacity and persistence of Elisha. Despite a number of groups of prophets looking to remind him that this is the day his master is taken away, he will not leave him. Despite his master telling him of his movements, he will not leave him. This tenacity and persistence is for a reason. It is because he has a request and that request reflects a lot about how highly Elisha regarded his master and the God of his master.
The request for the double portion was the request to take over the responsibility for the prophetic ministry. As it was to turn out it was literally the request to take on the mantle of Elijah. It says that Elisha saw such of God in Elijah that he desired to follow in that way. It is great to encourage and promote this desire to pursue the same Spirit that enables men of God to do great exploits. This pursuit expresses the degree of commitment Elisha had for the matters of God. Something we can learn and apply today in our different contexts.
Elisha was to confirm his status when he was able to cross the river on dry land as Elijah was able to accomplish. Yet the first public expression of this takes place in a remarkable way in a town. Strategically located but the land was unproductive because of its water. Elisha turned around the fortunes of the city forever by purifying the water. Productivity comes from pure water.
Making the most of the strategic situation requires purity of flow from which productivity can be expressed. Elisha bringing this to the place firmly established his credentials as succeeding Elijah in the prophetic ministry. What the word of the Lord says can bring purity to a polluted situation.
In the previous chapter men had been disrespectful to the man of God and suffered for it in the fatal sense. This affirmed his position so that even the king’s army got the hint and did not disrespect Elijah again.
Now here is Elisha walking and being verbally abused by a large gang. They have made a big mistake. They have cursed a man of God. When the bears had finished mauling a large number of the gang it certainly reaffirmed Elisha’s status. Reminding us again that it is dangerous to mess with a person of God.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden