Elijah Series: Marks of a Faithful Servant (2 Kgs 2)
Marks of a Faithful Servant
Just before the Lord took Elijah up to heaven in a windstorm, Elijah and Elisha were traveling from Gilgal. Elijah told Elisha, “Stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As certainly as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. Some members of the prophetic guild in Bethel came out to Elisha and said, “Do you know that today the Lord is going to take your master from you?” He answered, “Yes, I know. Be quiet.” Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he replied, “As certainly as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho. Some members of the prophetic guild in Jericho approached Elisha and said, “Do you know that today the Lord is going to take your master from you?” He answered, “Yes, I know. Be quiet.” Elijah said to him, “Stay here, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he replied, “As certainly as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they traveled on together. The fifty members of the prophetic guild went and stood opposite them at a distance, while Elijah and Elisha stood by the Jordan. Elijah took his cloak, folded it up, and hit the water with it. The water divided, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground. When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “What can I do for you, before I am taken away from you?” Elisha answered, “May I receive a double portion of the prophetic spirit that energizes you.” Elijah replied, “That’s a difficult request! If you see me taken from you, may it be so, but if you don’t, it will not happen.” As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a fiery chariot pulled by fiery horses appeared. They went between Elijah and Elisha, and Elijah went up to heaven in a windstorm. While Elisha was watching, he was crying out, “My father, my father! The chariot and horsemen of Israel!” Then he could no longer see him. He grabbed his clothes and tore them in two. He picked up Elijah’s cloak, which had fallen off him, and went back and stood on the shore of the Jordan. He took the cloak that had fallen off Elijah, hit the water with it, and said, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” When he hit the water, it divided and Elisha crossed over. When the members of the prophetic guild in Jericho, who were standing at a distance, saw him do this, they said, “The spirit that energized Elijah rests upon Elisha.” They went to meet him and bowed down to the ground before him. They said to him, “Look, there are fifty capable men with your servants. Let them go and look for your master, for the wind sent from the Lord may have carried him away and dropped him on one of the hills or in one of the valleys.” But Elisha replied, “Don’t send them out.” But they were so insistent, he became embarrassed. So he said, “Send them out.” They sent the fifty men out and they looked for three days, but could not find Elijah. When they came back, Elisha was staying in Jericho. He said to them, “Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t go’?”
2 Kings 2 (NET)
What are marks of a faithful servant of God?
In 2 Kings 2, Elijah is taken to heaven in a whirlwind. Elijah is one of two people in Scripture that never tasted death—the other is Enoch. Both walked with God and had an intimate relationship with him. Both lived in a time of great rebellion. With Enoch, the children of Adam had rebelled against God and soon God wiped them out in a flood. With Elijah, Ahab, the worst king in Israel’s history up to that point, was ruling on the throne and had influenced Israel to worship Baal. Both of these men were prophets to their generation. Jude tells us that Enoch prophesied about Christ’s second coming before his first coming (Jude 1:14). No doubt, God took these men away in a spectacular fashion in part to be a witness to the wicked generation around them and also to affirm their righteousness. Those who called them evil and troublemakers had clear confirmation from God that they were righteous. It also confirmed the validity of their prophetic words, in the hope that people would repent. Enoch’s and Elijah’s translation straight to heaven without death also foreshadows how one day believers who are still alive at Christ’s coming will also be taken straight to heaven (1 Thess 4:13-18). This will ultimately confirm them before the world who rejected them and their words.
In this narrative, Elijah and Elisha travel to various schools of prophets—no doubt to encourage them before Elijah was taken to heaven. At each place, Elijah tries to encourage Elisha to stay behind (v. 3, 5)—maybe he did not want him to experience the trauma of him being taken, or in humility didn’t want to make a big display out of it, or he was simply trying to test Elisha’s commitment. Either way, Elisha committed to staying with him. Finally, before Elijah departed, he asked Elisha what he could do for him, and Elisha asked for a double portion of his spirit (v. 9). Elijah recognized the difficulty of his request but said that if Elisha saw him leave, God would grant his request (v. 10). Soon after, Elijah was dramatically taken to heaven, and Elisha was empowered to be the chief prophet of Israel (v. 11-15).
As we consider Elijah dramatically being taken to heaven by God and Elisha being anointed as Elijah’s successor, we learn marks of a faithful servant. As mentioned, no doubt, Elijah’s translation was a public declaration by God that Elijah had been faithful in his generation, especially to those who demonized him and declared otherwise. He was a faithful warrior that God was pleased with, like Enoch before him. Certainly, as Elijah’s translation witnessed to God being pleased with him, we must also seek to be pleasing to God with our lives. One day all our works will be evaluated by God and we will receive rewards or loss of rewards. Some will hear, “Well done good and faithful servant” and others will be called “wicked and lazy servants” (Matt 25:14-30). Therefore, it is important for us to consider, “What are marks of a faithful servant?”
Big Question: What marks of a faithful servant can be discerned from 2 Kings 2, as God publicly affirms Elijah and his ministry by taking him to heaven without his dying?
A Mark of a Faithful Servant Is Trusting God’s Plan, Even When Encountering Delays, Disappointments, and Unanswered Prayers
Just before the Lord took Elijah up to heaven in a windstorm, Elijah and Elisha were traveling from Gilgal.
2 Kings 2:1
From the beginning of this narrative, it is clear that Elijah, as well as Elisha and the prophets, knew that God was going to take Elijah home in a miraculous way. This must remind us how around ten years earlier in a fit of despair, Elijah prayed to die (1 Kgs 19:4). In 1 Kings 19, Jezebel promised to put Elijah to death within a twenty-four-hour period, which caused him to run for his life, struggle with depression, and pray for death. However, it was not Elijah’s time yet, even though he was weary and wanted to give up.
We must remember this, especially during times of disappointment; often God’s best answer to our prayer requests or pursuits is to say no or close the door. Though from our limited perspective or desperation, a certain path may seem best; God in his wisdom and sovereignty often closes a door because he knows it’s not best and has something infinitely better for us. Elijah wanted to die, but God wanted to give him a tremendous gift years later by taking him to heaven apart from dying. Often God does the same with us.
Because God often graciously closes doors, allows delays, disappointments, and seemingly unanswered prayers, we must trust that God’s plan is perfect even when we don’t understand. The job or career that didn’t work out, the relationship that ended, the scholarship that was lost or never received, somehow is part of God’s sovereign and perfect plan for us. It may be to teach us a valuable lesson, lead us in a better direction, or simply help us trust God more and conform us to his image. Either way, God’s plan is infinitely better than our plans, which is clearly seen in the life of Elijah. God’s plan was to use Elijah’s trials to sharpen him and prepare him for greater things, which included the discipling of other prophets who would continue the ministry after he was gone.
In considering how God did not answer Elijah’s initial prayer to die, F. B. Meyer wisely said this:
We shall have to bless Him [God] forever, more for the prayers He refused than for those He granted. When next your request is denied, reflect that it may be because God is preparing something for you as much better than your request as the translation of Elijah was better than his own petition for himself.
Application Question: How can we trust God when encountering delays, unanswered prayers, and disappointments?
1. To trust God’s plans, we must remember God’s character and promises.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Also, in Jeremiah 29:11, God originally said this to Israel who was stuck in exile, but it certainly applies to us in our delays and disappointments: “For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.” God is sovereign and wise and working things for our good. We must remember this when disappointments, delays, and unanswered prayers accumulate.
To remember God’s character and promises, especially in times of disappointment, we need to live in God’s Word more by reading, studying, quoting, and praying it. As we do this, God will give us his peace as we trust in and wait on him. Isaiah 26:3 (ESV) says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” God’s plans are good even when they don’t seem to be.
2. To trust God’s plans, we must in faith give thanks to God and rejoice in the good he will accomplish through our disappointments.
First Thessalonians 5:18 says, “in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” James 1:2-3 says, “My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” Romans 5:3-4 says, “Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope.”
It’s important to trust God with unanswered prayers, delays, and disappointments because if not, we will be tempted to become bitter at God, others, and our circumstances, which will only lead to our spiritual harm and that of others. Remember Israel complained in the wilderness, which led God to discipline them. In 1 Corinthians 10:10-11, Paul said this:
And do not complain, as some of them did, and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written for our instruction, on whom the ends of the ages have come.
As we consider the outcome of Elijah’s life, we must learn to trust God’s plan, especially when encountering various disappointments.
Application Question: In what ways have you experienced disappointments, delays, and seemingly unanswered prayers which God used for your good? How can we maintain and increase our faith in the midst of what seems like a disappointment?
A Mark of a Faithful Servant Is Humility
Just before the Lord took Elijah up to heaven in a windstorm, Elijah and Elisha were traveling from Gilgal. Elijah told Elisha, “Stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As certainly as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. Some members of the prophetic guild in Bethel came out to Elisha and said, “Do you know that today the Lord is going to take your master from you?” He answered, “Yes, I know. Be quiet.” Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he replied, “As certainly as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho. Some members of the prophetic guild in Jericho approached Elisha and said, “Do you know that today the Lord is going to take your master from you?” He answered, “Yes, I know. Be quiet.” Elijah said to him, “Stay here, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he replied, “As certainly as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they traveled on together.
2 Kings 2:1-6
Another thing that must stand out in this narrative is the fact that though Elijah knew that God was going to take him to heaven, he never publicly shared it with anybody—even though he met with several schools of prophets and was with Elisha the whole day. With Elisha specifically, Elijah three times told him to stay behind when going to Bethel, then Jericho, and then the Jordan; however, Elijah never revealed that God was planning to take him to heaven (v. 2, 4, 6). There is a sense in which Elijah is like Christ in this regard. Often Christ would heal somebody (the deaf, the lepers, etc.) and then tell them to not tell anybody (cf. Matt 8:3-4, Mk 7:36). He wasn’t seeking the crowds in the sense of being famous; in fact, crowds would have hindered his ability to get around and do what God called him to do. Like Christ, Elijah apparently was a deeply humble man. And obviously, Elisha knew this about his master and, therefore, kept telling the prophets to be quiet about the fact that Elijah was going to be taken home (v. 3, 5). Elisha probably kept hushing the prophets because he knew Elijah was not a man who sought fan fair. Elijah was the type of man who was content to worship God alone at a brook or on a mountain without anybody seeing him.
If Elijah’s quietness about this great honor of being taken directly to heaven doesn’t quite stand out, think of how most people would react to experiencing a great honor. Would they not share it with all their friends, post it on Instagram, Twitter, and everywhere else? F. B. Meyer said this about Elijah: “Anyone less great would have let the secret out, or have contrived to line the heights of the Jordan with expectant crowds of witnesses. Instead of this, he kept the secret well.” No doubt, it was Elijah’s great humility that led to his great exaltation. James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
For many of us, God cannot exalt us because it will prompt pride in us and then lead to our fall. Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” And with those God does exalt, he often brings equal pains to keep them humble. With Paul, because of how much God exalted him through revelations and dreams, God allowed him to have a thorn in the flesh to keep him humble. In 2 Corinthians 12:7, Paul said this:
… even because of the extraordinary character of the revelations. Therefore, so that I would not become arrogant, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to trouble me—so that I would not become arrogant.
Application Question: How can we grow in the practice of humility so we can experience more of God’s grace?
1. To grow in humility, we must practice the discipline of secrecy.
Certainly, Christ must be our example and teacher. In Matthew 11:29, he called himself “gentle and humble in heart.” In Matthew 6, Christ taught that as a discipline we must practice our righteousness in secret—not seeking to share it publicly. When giving, we should not blow a trumpet to let people know about it (v. 2-3). When praying, we should go into our closet instead of seeking to pray in public arenas (v. 5-6). When fasting, we should not make it obvious that we are fasting, like the hypocrites commonly did (v. 16-18). When we practice humility in our works of service or our accomplishments, the God who sees us in secret will reward us (v. 4).
2. To grow in humility, we must practice the discipline of intimacy with our Lord.
As we abide with Christ through studying the Word, prayer, worship, and service, we will become more like him. Again, in Matthew 11:29, Christ said, “Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Taking on the yoke was a picture of an older bull training a younger bull to properly carry a weight. As we abide in Christ, he teaches us how to be gentle and humble like him—humbly putting others before ourselves and seeking to exalt God’s name instead of our own. This all comes from abiding in Christ. In John 15:5, Christ said to abide in him, and we would produce much fruit. Apart from him we can do nothing. In fact, one of the fruits of the Spirit is humility ("gentleness” in NET) which comes from living in the Spirit (Gal 5:16, 23). If we don’t continually spend time with Christ through the Word, prayer, worship, and acts of service, we will grow in pride which only leads us away from God and others and further into sin.
A mark of a faithful servant is humility, even as a mark of unfaithfulness is pride. Pride makes us seek to glorify ourselves over God and others.
Application Question: What are the fruits and consequences of pride in a person’s life? What is humility and why is it so important for the Christian life? How is God calling you to pursue greater humility in your serving him and others?
A Mark of a Faithful Servant Is Praying Daring Prayers
When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “What can I do for you, before I am taken away from you?” Elisha answered, “May I receive a double portion of the prophetic spirit that energizes you.” Elijah replied, “That’s a difficult request! If you see me taken from you, may it be so, but if you don’t, it will not happen.”
2 Kings 2:9-10
Before Elijah was taken in a whirlwind, he asked Elisha what he could do for him. Elisha had faithfully served him for probably ten years and so Elijah wanted to bless him. Elisha in response asked for a “double portion” of Elijah’s spirit (v. 9). Elijah responds, “That’s a difficult request! If you see me taken from you, may it be so” (v. 10). The “double portion” probably referred to Elisha receiving the rights of the firstborn and, therefore, replacing Elijah as Israel’s chief prophet. It also included a special anointing to do the work.
Though this is Elisha’s request and not Elijah’s, it no doubt represented what Elisha had seen in Elijah’s ministry throughout the years. Throughout Elijah’s ministry, he always asked great and daring prayer requests, which Elisha was modeling. In fact, in James 5:16-18, James tells believers to pray for the healing of others in part because Elijah was a regular person like us, and yet he prayed for it to not rain and it didn’t rain. He prayed for rain and it did. Throughout Elijah’s ministry, he was willing to ask God for bold requests. He not only prayed for rain and for it not to rain; he prayed for the first resurrection in the Bible, which Elisha would later duplicate (cf. 1 Kgs 17:19-23, 2 Kgs 4:32-37). Elijah prayed for fire to come down from heaven three times, and each time God listened (1 Kgs 19:37-38, 2 Kgs 1:9-12). In this narrative, Elijah split the Jordan River so they could walk to the other side on dry land (v. 8). Elijah was willing to pray daring requests, and therefore, Elisha did as well. In fact, after Elijah was taken, Elisha boldly put his mantle on the Jordan River so it would split, even as Elijah did (v. 14).
Likewise, if we are going to be faithful servants, we must also be people of prayer, including praying daring requests. In Ezekiel 22:30, God said, “I looked for a man from among them who would repair the wall and stand in the gap before me on behalf of the land, so that I would not destroy it, but I found no one.” Also, James 4:2 says, “You do not have because you do not ask.” How many miracles do we miss out on simply because we don’t ask or don’t persevere in asking? When Elijah prayed for rain, at first it didn’t rain. He prayed seven times and eventually it rained (1 Kgs 18:42-45). Likewise, if we are going to be faithful servants, we must be people who are willing to pray daring prayers. We are not praying daring prayers simply because we are bold, but because God wants us to. We have not because we ask not. God seeks to find men and women who will stand in the gap and pray. He wants people to pray for healing over others, revival in schools and nations. He wants people to pray like Elisha—"Lord, I’m too weak to be used. Will you empower me to speak? Will you open doors for me to serve? Would you give me great boldness? Will you give special gifts to bless your people?” Does not God tell us to desire the better gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:31? We should ask for gifts of teaching, prophecy, encouragement, and healing—not for our glory but to better serve God and others. Solomon asked for wisdom, and God made him the wisest man on the earth, so he could better rule Israel (2 Chr 1).
But certainly, we should be challenged from this narrative to not only ask for gifts and graces for ourselves but also to ask for others. Elijah played a role in Elisha receiving the double portion from God. Likewise, Timothy somehow received a spiritual gift through Paul laying hands on him. Second Timothy 1:6 says, “Because of this I remind you to rekindle God’s gift that you possess through the laying on of my hands.” We should cry out for special grace over our church leaders, youth and children’s teachers, the people in our small group or classes, and the children in our church that God would anoint them and use them. Certainly, we must be challenged to pray daring prayers for ourselves and those we serve, including our physical and spiritual children.
Are we willing to pray daring prayers? Throughout Scripture, faithful servants do.
Application Question: What daring requests have you asked the Lord for in the past and what was the outcome? What daring requests do you believe God is calling you to pray for yourself and others (including your family, church, and nation) in this season?
A Mark of a Faithful Servant Is Fighting and Suffering Hardships for Christ
As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a fiery chariot pulled by fiery horses appeared. They went between Elijah and Elisha, and Elijah went up to heaven in a windstorm. While Elisha was watching, he was crying out, “My father, my father! The chariot and horsemen of Israel!” Then he could no longer see him. He grabbed his clothes and tore them in two.
2 Kings 2:11-12
After Elijah and Elisha were split by a fiery chariot with horses and Elijah was taken to heaven in a windstorm, Elisha, who was looking on, said, “My father, my father! The chariot and the horsemen of Israel!” (v. 12). It’s possible that Elisha was pointing out to Elijah that the chariot and horsemen of Israel were with him, as he was being taken to heaven; however, most likely, Elisha was calling Elijah the chariot and horsemen of Israel. F. B. Meyer said this about Elisha’s proclamation:
There was fitness in the exclamation with which Elisha bade him farewell. He cried, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof” (2 Kings 2:12). Doubtless, amid that sudden flash of glory he hardly knew what he said. Yet he closely hit the truth. That man, whom he had come to love as a father, had indeed been as an armed chariot of defense to Israel. By his faith and prayers and deeds, he had often warded off evil and danger with more certain success than could have been effected by an armed troop. Alas that such people are rare! But in our time we have known them; and when they have been suddenly swept from our side, we have felt as if the Church had been deprived of one main source of security and help.
To further support that Elisha was calling Elijah the chariot and horsemen of Israel, when Elisha died, King Joash called Elisha the same thing. Second Kings 13:14 says, “Now Elisha had a terminal illness. King Joash of Israel went down to visit him. He wept before him and said, ‘My father, my father! The chariot and horsemen of Israel!’” Both of these men defended and fought for Israel through their prayers, preaching, and suffering.
Either way, whether Elisha was referring to Elijah or the actual chariot and horsemen, it is clear that the chariot and horsemen were instruments of war and God was giving Elijah a war hero’s welcome home. He had been a faithful soldier, and he was going home to his reward. This reminds us that Elijah’s life, though successful, was far from easy. It had much difficulty in it. He lived in a world where he was a pilgrim—an outcast. While most of Israel worshiped Baal, he remained faithful to the true God. He rebuked the king and the Israelites (1 Kgs 17, 18). He lived in quarantine for three and a half years—first by himself at a brook and then with a poor widow and her son, outside of Israel (1 Kgs 17). When threatened by Jezebel, he ran in fear and asked God to take his life (1 Kgs 19). He was surrounded by bands of soldiers multiple times with intentions of taking him captive and possibly ending his life (2 Kgs 1). Elijah’s life was no cakewalk, and neither will any faithful Christian’s life. In 2 Timothy 3:12, Paul said this to Timothy before eventually being beheaded for the faith, “Now in fact all who want to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” To faithfully follow Christ means to suffer like he did—possibly by being rejected by family and friends for our conservative beliefs, being stepped over for promotion or let go from our job because our faith makes others uncomfortable, and for some, even paying the ultimate price with their lives.
We must remember that following Christ means enlisting in his army. We are in a spiritual war for the lives of people and any progress into enemy territory will be met with equal force. To have a faithful life means to be in warfare and at times to suffer. With Job, he lost his health, wealth, and family, and all of it was spiritual warfare—as Satan attacked him. Certainly, we must always remember Christ’s words in Luke 14:26-27 to those considering following him:
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple
Also, we must remember Paul’s words in Ephesians 6:11-12:
Clothe yourselves with the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.
Being a faithful servant does not mean ease; in fact, it often means hardship and suffering. Are we willing to suffer for Christ—being a light to an antagonistic world and bearing up under the attacks of the enemy? Elijah was a war hero who went home—he was the chariot and horsemen of Israel.
Application Question: Why is being willing to persevere through suffering so important to being a faithful servant of God? What are some of the attacks happening around the world against Christians and biblical values? How can we better persevere through the various attacks and trials that come with faithfully serving God and others?
A Mark of a Faithful Servant Is a Focus on Equipping and Blessing Others
The fifty members of the prophetic guild went and stood opposite them at a distance, while Elijah and Elisha stood by the Jordan. Elijah took his cloak, folded it up, and hit the water with it. The water divided, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground. When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “What can I do for you, before I am taken away from you?” Elisha answered, “May I receive a double portion of the prophetic spirit that energizes you.” Elijah replied, “That’s a difficult request! If you see me taken from you, may it be so, but if you don’t, it will not happen.” As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a fiery chariot pulled by fiery horses appeared. They went between Elijah and Elisha, and Elijah went up to heaven in a windstorm. While Elisha was watching, he was crying out, “My father, my father! The chariot and horsemen of Israel!” Then he could no longer see him. He grabbed his clothes and tore them in two. He picked up Elijah’s cloak, which had fallen off him, and went back and stood on the shore of the Jordan. He took the cloak that had fallen off Elijah, hit the water with it, and said, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” When he hit the water, it divided and Elisha crossed over. When the members of the prophetic guild in Jericho, who were standing at a distance, saw him do this, they said, “The spirit that energized Elijah rests upon Elisha.” They went to meet him and bowed down to the ground before him.
2 Kings 2:7-15
Historians tell us that there were schools of prophets at Gilgal, Bethel, and Jericho—the three places that Elijah visited before he was taken to heaven. These were possibly created by Samuel (cf. 1 Sam 10:5, 9-10, 19:20); however, at this time, Elijah was the chief prophet or professor. Therefore, as mentioned, he probably went to each of these schools to encourage and further equip them before he left. Israel was still worshiping Baal, and they needed people who knew God’s law and taught God’s Word. Not only did he visit each of these schools, but he empowered Elisha to be his official representative when he left.
Certainly, Elijah realized long ago that his most impactful ministry would not be his miracles but reduplicating himself throughout Israel. Ray Pritchard said this about Elijah:
He understood that his greatest gift to the nation would be to multiply himself by leaving behind a crop of young men who could carry on his work after he was gone. One man could only do so much, but one man who poured himself into dozens of younger men could start a movement that might one day ignite a revolution that could overthrow Baal worship once and for all. Here is the ultimate argument for Christian education. We pass along what we know to the up-and-coming generation precisely because we know we won't be here forever. We do it so that our work will not end when we do, but in the providence of God, while we sink into the dust of the earth, God's truth goes marching on.
This was the same thing Christ did during his ministry. He focused on equipping the twelve to turn the world upside down after he left. Ministering to big crowds was important but most important was ministering to the few faithful who would eventually minister to others.
Before Paul died, like Elijah, he focused on equipping his apprentice, Timothy. Paul’s last letter before his death in Rome was the book of 2 Timothy, in which he constantly encourages and challenges Timothy. In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul said, “And entrust what you heard me say in the presence of many others as witnesses to faithful people who will be competent to teach others as well.” There are four generations of Christians in this passage—Paul, Timothy, faithful people, and those who will teach others. Likewise, we must focus on doing the same. We must invest in our peers, the younger generation, and our children. Paul told Titus to tell the older women to teach the younger women (Titus 2:3-5). We have all been called to make disciples of unbelievers—teaching them the gospel, baptizing them, and training them in Scripture (Matt 28:19-20). We have all been called to disciple and be discipled.
Certainly, as we consider Elijah mentoring the prophets and installing Elisha as the chief prophet, we must ask ourselves who are our Elijahs and who are our Elishas? Who pours into us and who do we pour into? Our mission is too big for us to accomplish alone. We must be equipped by those farther along in the faith, and we must give great attention to investing in others—through on one mentorship, small groups, formal and informal education. Who is pouring into you and who are you pouring into?
Application Question: Who are your Elijahs and who are your Elishas? How is God calling you to pursue mentorship and to mentor others? What are common hindrances to receiving and giving mentorship?
What are marks of a faithful servant? As taught in the Parable of the Talents, all of us will either hear, “Well done good and faithful servant” or “You wicked and lazy servant” (cf. Matt 25:14-30). Elijah was a man who was publicly affirmed by God before others as he was translated to heaven without death. Therefore, from his life and translation, we can discern marks of a faithful servant.
1. A Mark of a Faithful Servant Is Trusting God’s Plan, Even When Encountering Delays, Disappointments, and Unanswered Prayers
2. A Mark of a Faithful Servant Is Humility
3. A Mark of a Faithful Servant Is Praying Daring Prayers
4. A Mark of a Faithful Servant Is Fighting and Suffering Hardships for Christ
5. A Mark of a Faithful Servant Is a Focus on Equipping and Blessing Others
• Pray for God to increase our faith so that we can trust him when encountering delays, disappointments, and unanswered prayers.
• Pray for God to deliver us from pride and independence (from him and his body) and that he would give us grace to be humble—for God blesses the humble and fights against the proud.
• Pray for God to give us grace to pray daring prayers—to intercede for others, our churches, and our nations and that God would move mightily because of our prayers.
• Pray for God to give us courage and grace to stand, fight, and suffer for the kingdom, as we serve others.
• Pray for God to empower us to make disciples—that we would lead people to Christ and help others continue to follow Christ and complete his plans for their lives.