2 Kings 2:13

I. DIVINE POWER TESTED. Elisha wanted a token that God's presence and power were with him. To obtain this he used Elijah's mantle as he had seen Elijah use it. He smote the waters, and said, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" We learn from this a twofold lesson.

1. The best way to prove the power of Divine grace is to exercise the gifts we have. "Neglect not the gift that is in thee." We shall not accomplish much in the world if we stand gazing up into heaven.

"We may not make this world a paradise
By walking it together with clasped hands."

2. All effort should be accompanied by prayer. Elisha knew that the mantle of Elijah was of little use, unless the Lord God of Elijah was with him. "Apostolical succession" profits little if there be not also the baptism of the Holy Ghost. If we would succeed in our business, we must look for the Divine guidance, help, and blessing. "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it."

II. THE DIVINE PRESENCE MANIFESTED. "When he had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over." If we had faith to undertake great things for God, then we might expect great things from God. Are we attempting as much as we might for our Lord? Are we putting his Divine promises and power to the test? Have we not his own assurance, "Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world"? Why should our efforts be so feeble, when we have all the resources of Divine grace at our disposal? The Divine presence was manifest not only to Elisha himself, but to the sons of the prophets also. When they saw him, they said, "The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha." If we are walking with God, abiding in Christ, the evidence of it will soon be manifest in our lives.

III. DIVINE PURPOSES DOUBTED. Although, as we have seen above, the sons of the prophets knew that Elijah was to be taken from them, yet they were slow to believe in his actual removal. They asked Elisha's permission to send fifty strong men to seek for Elijah, "lest peradventure the Spirit of the Lord hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley." Elisha knew how vain it was, and forbade an expedition so futile. But in response to their urgent and repeated entreaties he gave them permission to send. After the exploring party had been searching for Elijah for three days in vain, they at length gave up the quest and returned to Jericho. So the human heart is ever reluctant to submit to God's purposes. Because we cannot see the meaning of some good man's removal, we think it was ill-timed. Yet God's work does not depend upon the human instruments whom he uses. No doubt there is something beautiful and pathetic about this affection of these young men for their old teacher. But when he was gone, why spend their time in profitless brooding over his loss, instead of showing his spirit, and fulfilling his desires by throwing themselves heartily into their work under Elisha? The Church of Christ best shows its regard for the workers of the past and for their work, not by standing still where they have left off, but by carrying forward and improving the work they have begun. There are ever-new conditions of life opening up, and these must be considered as well as the memories of the past. - C.H.I







He took also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him.
when Elijah swept away from the side of Elisha in his chariot of fire, guarded by angelic horsemen, Elisha was for a moment overwhelmed. Ere long his eye fell upon the mantle of Elijah. That was all that was left to him that was physically tangible, but it meant a great deal. As his eyes gazed on it, his heart grew tender and soft as memory carried him back to that morning on his father's farm, years ago, when that mantle was thrown around his own shoulders and he recognised it as God's call to the prophetic service. During all the years since that time that mantle had been constantly under his eyes. It had been the indication, the token, of the presence of God with Elijah. But it was only a token; the power was in the God who called Elijah and who strengthened him for his work. So we can imagine what deep pathos, what tender, worshipful emotion there was in the heart and voice of Elisha as with sincerest prayer he cried, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" As he said these words he smote the waters with the mantle, and God answered to his cry, and the waters stood back from the stroke, and he walked across on dry land. There is here:

1. A message for Christians in all ages who long to have in present emergencies the spiritual power known in the past. Our lesson is in this, that we cannot make the conditions of changing life conform to old conditions; but the attitude to God, the relation to God which made men and women the channels of Divine influence and blessing in any age of the world are possible to us. Elisha was a very different man from Elijah. If he had gone about trying to act like Elijah in all sorts of customs and habits of a minor nature he would have made himself the laughing-stock of his time. But we see that from the start Elisha grasped the kernel of the matter. It was not Elijah's mannerisms, nor Elijah's peculiar methods, but Elijah's faith in God that gave him his power. And so his cry is, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" Joseph Parker says that by these words Elisha shows that he is not called to a merely official position, but that he is elected to represent the Divine Majesty upon earth. Had Elisha acted in a way which suggested self-sufficiency, his prophetic office would have been destroyed well-nigh before it was created. It is when we stand back in humility, and from the depths of our souls cry out of our desolateness to God, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" that we begin our work in the right spirit, and only then. Sometimes we hear men and women talking now about the days of Wesley, and of Whitefield, and the early fathers of the great Wesleyan revival and reformation, as though they thought by some change of clothing or change of outward physical living the power of those days could come back. But that cannot be true. That which was at the heart and was the moving centre of the great Wesleyan revival was the same power that made Elijah what he was and that gave Elisha force to continue his work. It was an abiding faith in God. What Christians need to-day, and what we must have if we are to know the power which has made the saints of God mighty in every age of triumph for the church, is the same spirit and the same faith that Elisha had when with the mantle of Elijah he smote the waters of the Jordan and cried from the depths of his soul, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?"

2. God never fails to answer when His children call upon Him in faith. He immediately responded to Elisha's faith. He will be as faithful to us.

3. When with sincere hearts we serve God and surrender ourselves completely to do His will, God causes others to see. The young men at the prophetic school in Jericho were very quick to discern that the blessing of God rested on Elisha. They at once acknowledged that the spirit of Elijah had fallen on him.

(L. A. Banks, D. D.)

Elijah's solemn, silent act was sufficiently clear and eloquent to Elisha. When a great teacher dies, says Sir John Malcolm in his History of Persia, he bequeaths his patched mantle to the disciple that he most esteems. And the moment the elect disciple puts on the holy mantle he is vested with the whole power and sanctity of his predecessor. The mantles which were used by ascetics and saints have always been the objects of religions veneration in the East. The holy man's power is founded upon his sacred character, and that rests upon his poverty and contempt of worldly goods. His mantle is his all, and its transfer marks out his heir.

(Alex. Whyte, D. D.)

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