This is the dramatic story of Elijah’s home going in a chariot of fire. It is also the story of passing of the mantle from Elijah to Elisha. Mantle means authority, spiritual gifts, and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. In this story, Elijah knew that he would go away to heaven. Apparently, God has told him so and prepared his mind. His spiritual son and servant, Elisha also knew that. Both were in Gilgal where the journey of all mature Christians begins. After crossing the River Jordan, the people of God camped at Gilgal. They placed the twelve stones taken from the River at Gilgal, as a memorial for the generations to come so “that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever”.
It was at Gilgal that they circumcised all the males. They stayed there until all were healed. “Then the Lord said to Joshua, “This day I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” Therefore, the name of the place is called Gilgal to this day”. It was also at Gilgal that they kept the first Passover feast in the Promised Land. They ate the produce of the land and the next day the Manna ceased (Joshua 4:24; 5:8-12). Gilgal was loaded with all these holy memories. Elijah and Elisha started their journey from here. Elijah told Elisha “Stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me on to Bethel”. Elijah was on the move. But Elisha kept close by. He said: “As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!” So, they went down to Bethel” (2 Kings 2:2). In other words, Elisha told his mentor: “As you want to move on, to conquer new territories in the Promised Land, I am with you in this difficult journey: In other words: “I know that the Christian life is difficult but I also know that in Jesus’ name, I will be victorious”.
Elijah and Elisha arrived at Bethel. The word means ‘The House of God’. This is a place of worship, of revelation, of comfort and of hope. Jacob saw the ladder to heaven and heard the voice of God at Bethel. This is the place of vows and dreams come true (Genesis 28:16-22). From Bethel, Elijah and Elisha went on to Jericho. This was the place of miracles, and of victory. Jericho is the place where you shout the name of the Lord and the walls of the enemies fall flat. Finally, Elijah and Elisha went down to Jordan. This was the place of separation, of examination. After Jordan, you put into practice the things you have learned in the past. “And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?” Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” So he said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.”
Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces. He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over” (2 Kings 2:9-14). Just before Elijah went to heaven, Elisha asked him to give him ‘a double portion of your spirit’. Elijah called this request ‘a hard thing’. What Elisha wanted was that Elijah treats him as his first-born son. This is what the law said: The father should give to his firstborn son ‘a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his’ (Deuteronomy 21:17). In other words, Elisha said: ‘Father Elijah, as your first-born spiritual son, please give me the anointing of the Holy Spirit that is on you. Fill me with the Holy Spirit to continue your ministry. I do not care about the material things you possess. Fill me with the Spirit of the Abba Father. I want to be like Jesus!’ Elijah said it is ‘a hard thing’. This is because for the anointing to be transferred from one person to another, The Holy Spirit must approve that transfer. Money cannot buy anointing. Simon the Sorcerer tried to buy the anointing and he was strongly rejected by Peter who said: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin” (Acts 8:20-23).
Elijah called the request for anointing ‘a hard thing’. Then he gave a condition to Elisha: “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so” (2 Kings 2:10). As you can see, the receiving of the Holy Spirit is by sight in the Old Testament and by faith in the New Testament. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Elisha fulfilled the condition. He saw his master going up in the chariot of fire. He cried: “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces. He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him” (2 Kings 2:12, 13). Elisha tore his clothes as a sign of mourning. He then took Elijah’s mantle and did miracles with it. His desire for a double anointing from his master was approved by God.
The mantle is a sign of leadership and authority. There are many mantles that mean nothing. There are mantles of religion or mantles of the world. It depends on your desire, on your faith. The sons of the prophets testified about the transfer of leadership from Elijah to Elisha. “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” And they came to meet him and bowed to the ground before him” (2 Kings 2:15).
Finally, let me ask you some questions: When you have a pastor, a leader, a father in the Lord, what do you covet in him? What do followers covet in their leaders? What do Christians covet from their leaders, from their pastors? When your pastor travels, during his absence, what do you miss the most? Usually, the leaders are older than the members of their congregations. One day they will go away and never come back. What do you miss when they are gone? What do you desire in your mentor? There are two things you may desire from your leader: Material things or A Spiritual Inheritance. Apostle Paul told his followers: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). This is my advice: Appreciate your leaders. Pray for them! “Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct” (Hebrews 13:7). People come and people go. But Jesus Christ the Lord never changes. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). Worship the Lord!
(My beloved husband, Pastor Richmond Sisan Leigh, is now in heaven, with the Lord Jesus Christ! He preached this sermon in 2010. His words are filled with fresh power, anointing, peace, faith, hope and joy. I am so proud of him for His unending love for God and the spiritual inheritance he left behind! To God be all the glory!)
(Pastor (Mrs) Silvia Lia Leigh)