“But I Will Not Leave You!”
Elijah Leaves Elisha
Religious consecration is essentially an act of love: the love of Christ for you and, in return, your love for him and for all his brothers and sisters. This mystery is proclaimed today in the Gospel when Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.” Christ wants you to abide in him, by being nourished daily in the celebration of the Eucharist and by giving your life back through prayer and self-denial. Trusting in his word and putting faith in his mercy, you respond to his love; you choose to follow him more nearly in chastity, poverty and obedience, with the desire to participate more fully in the life and holiness of the Church. You wish to love as brothers and sisters all those whom Christ loves. --John Paul II, The Private Prayers, 51.
Never be afraid to demonstrate your devotion to the Lord. It does honor to you! It honors the Church! You have a specific place in the body of Christ, in which each of you must fulfill his own task, his own charism. If with the Holy Spirit you seek the holiness that corresponds to your state of life, have no fear. He will not abandon you. Vocations will come to you. And you yourselves will preserve your youthfulness of spirit, which has nothing to do with age. Yes, live in hope. Keep your eyes fixed on Christ and walk firmly in his footsteps, in joy and peace. ibid, 66-67.
Elisha Leaves Elijah 2 Kings 2:1. This is what happened when Yahweh took Elijah up to heaven in the whirlwind:
Elijah and Elisha set out from Gilgal, 2. and Elijah said to Elisha, “You stay here, for Yahweh is only sending me to Bethel.” But Elisha replied, “As Yahweh lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you!” and they went down to Bethel. 3. The brotherhood of prophets living at Bethel came out to meet Elisha and said, “Do you know that Yahweh will carry your lord and master away today?” “Yes, I know,” he said, “be quiet.” 4. Elijah said, “Elisha, you stay here, Yahweh is only sending me to Jericho.” But he replied, “As Yahweh lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you!” and they went on to Jericho. 5. The brotherhood of prophets living at Jericho went up to Elisha and said, “Do you know that Yahweh will carry your lord and master away today?” “Yes, I know,” he said, “be quiet.” 6. Elijah said, “Elisha, you stay here, Yahweh is only sending me to the Jordan.” But he replied, “As Yahweh lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you!” And they went on together. 7. Fifty of the brotherhood of prophets followed them, halting some distance away as the two of them stood beside the Jordan.
8. Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water; and the water divided to left and right, and the two of them crossed over dry-shod. 9. When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Make your request. What can I do for you before I am snatched away from you?” Elisha answered, “Let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” 10. `Your request is difficult,” Elijah said. “If you see me while I am being snatched away from you, it will be as you ask; if not, it will not be so.”
11. Now as they walked on, talking as they went, a chariot of fire appeared and horses of fire coming between the two of them; and Elijah went up to heaven in the whirlwind. 12. Elisha saw it, and shouted, “My father! My father! Chariot of Israel and its chargers!” Then he lost sight of him, and taking hold of his own clothes he tore them in half. 13. He picked up Elijah’s cloak which had fallen, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14. He took Elijah’s cloak and struck the water. “Where is Yahweh, the God of Elijah?” he cried. As he struck the water it divided to right and left, and Elisha crossed over.
15. The brotherhood of prophets saw him in the distance, and said, “The spirit of Elijah has come to rest on Elisha”; they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. 16. `Look,” they said, “your servants have fifty strong men with them, let them go and look for your master; the Spirit of Yahweh may have taken him up and thrown him down on a mountain or into a valley.” “Send no one,” Elisha replied. (NJB)
No, Not One Psalms 14 :1. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no Elohim. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. 2. Yahweh looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek Elohim. 3. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 4. Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon Yahweh? 5. There were they in great fear: for Elohim is in the generation of the righteous. 6. Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because Yahweh is his refuge. 7. Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when Yahweh bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad. (KJV)
The Seventy-two Leave Yahshua Luke 10: 1. After this the Master appointed seventy-two others and sent them out ahead of him in pairs, to all the towns and places he himself would be visiting. 2. And he said to them, “The harvest is rich but the laborers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers to do his harvesting. 3. Start off now, but look, I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.”
Also 13-16 (read in the message)
The Seventy-two Return 17. The seventy-two came back rejoicing. “Master,” they said, “even the devils submit to us when we use your name.” 18. He said to them, “I watched Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19. Look, I have given you power to tread down serpents and scorpions and the whole strength of the enemy; nothing shall ever hurt you. 20. Yet do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you; rejoice instead that your names are written in heaven.” (NJB)
I think the devil pulls no greater trick with the Christian than in the realm of feelings. Sometimes the Christian does not ‘feel’ the Lord is present or does not ‘feel’ saved. But does a man have to feel married in order to be married? ... Am I right in concluding that if the clouds are completely hiding the sun, there is no sun? No. The clouds will yet move; the sun will yet shine. Often the Lord’s face seems to be hidden, so that when Satan comes saying, ‘You deserve better treatment from the Lord’s hand,’ we are tempted to doubt. Leonard Ravenhill, Tried and Transfigured, 46.
PRAYER: Luke 10:21 “I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to little children. Yes, Father, for that is what it has pleased you to do.”
Follow the Leader
Both Scripture lessons are about loyalty to a leader. They’re also about carrying on after the leader has gone. Both are bittersweet success stories of the men and women who’ve been one-minded in their efforts to follow the call of Heaven and take up vocations in Yahweh. But the lessons also mention the orthodox majority – who’ve heard the Spirit’s call, but’ve deliberately “hidden it’s light under a bushel.”
Such a bushel-hiding majority was the brotherhood of the prophets stationed in each town Elijah and Elisha passed through on Elijah’s final journey. The brotherhood consisted of professional seers, psychics and occultists who enjoyed official status, approval of the orthodoxy and support from denominational headquarters. They never missed a meal nor did they have to do any traveling. They knew Yahweh’s commands, but didn’t do what they knew to be true. They worshiped the golden calf that their king Ahab had decreed was Yahweh and queen Jezebel’s Easter Tree Asherah. They used Yahweh’s name, yet ministered on behalf of the Lord Baal.
Had they done otherwise, had they followed Elijah, had they taken up the truth that they knew, they would’ve lost their security and become hunted as Elijah was. They would have to become bums. Truth and righteousness are neither popular nor profitable. Yes, by all appearances, Elijah and Elisha were bums – but bums for truth.
We know that the brotherhood of prophets wasn’t of the truth because Elijah and Elisha encountered them in Bethel, where the original golden calf of King Jeroboam still resided. Bethel means “house of a god.” Devils inhabited the golden calf at Bethel, and the prophets in these towns accommodated them. Throughout the writings of the Bible prophets, Bethel is condemned grievously:
Amos 5:4. For Yahweh says this to the House of Israel: Seek me out and you will survive, 5. but do not seek out Bethel ... Bethel will be brought to nothing. 6. Seek out Yahweh ... else he will sweep like fire upon the House of Joseph and burn it down, with no [prophet] at Bethel able to quench the flames.
(It makes me wonder why Christian assemblies call themselves “Bethel” – i.e. “house of a god” – a house that’s to be swept away for leading the people astray from the truth. Have you ever noticed how many churches call themselves ‘Bethel’?)
Elijah would make one last pass through “Jezebel country” so that these false preachers would again see the real McCoy, repent and exchange a lie for the truth. They all knew Elijah was of the truth because of his signs – including the rain of fire upon Mount Carmel. The brotherhood also knew that Yahweh would take Elijah into the sky that very day – it was common knowledge in the spirit world. Even the demons knew it – and trembled. Yet through Gilgal, Bethel, Jericho and Jordan, not one of the brotherhood left the ranks of materialism, false doctrine, idolatry, perversion and temporal security to follow the Spirit of Truth: no, not one (Psalms 14:3).
But Elisha followed. The brotherhood of prophets tempted Elisha to stay with them. “Don’t you know Yahweh is going to carry your master away today?” they taunted. Yet Elisha held firm. “Hold your peace,” he decisively replied. This wasn’t just advice. When Elisha told them to shut their mouths, they shut. To add to Elisha’s crisis, in each place, Elijah also tested him. “Go ahead and stay with ‘em,” he said, “Yahweh’s sending me on – alone.” But each time, Elisha refused. He’d follow to the end. Elisha also had his orders.
When they reached the Jordan, some of the brotherhood snuck up to see what’d happen. They didn’t get too close; they were afraid Elijah might send fire on them as on their cohorts up north. So they hid in the rocks of the Jordan’s west bank. The river was narrow here, and Elijah struck the water with his mantle. The water parted, and Elijah and Elisha walked on dry land to the east bank. They were out of Israel now and in Gilead. Gilead is as far as they’d go. Elisha had passed the test of simply following, despite many crises and every reason not to.
“This is the end of the road, Elisha. You’ve kept up all this way. Now what do you want from me?” Elisha answered, “Let me inherit a double share of your spirit.”
Elijah had prophesied for twenty-five years. His inspired word and miraculous signs hadn’t originated in him, but in Yahweh. Elijah didn’t have a magical anointing, a double-portion anointing or a triple-portion anointing, as the TV preachers say today. He hadn’t been anointed at all. Rather, the Spirit of Prophecy had possessed him. Elijah appeared to have power because he yielded himself up to the Almighty. He sacrificed his own soul so that Yahweh could dwell within. And by the same measure he lost himself, Yahweh established himself. By this time, there was little left of Elijah the man – he’d become the embodiment of the Spirit of Prophecy. A double share of his spirit wasn’t something Elijah could provide his companion – it wasn’t his to give. The Spirit was Yahweh’s – the Ruach haKodesh – the Holy Spirit. Yahweh would give as he pleased.
You might also remember from the last message that Elijah was commanded to anoint (mashach, “smear”) Elisha, and we assume that he did. In those days as in these, a person who’s consecrated for an office is only consecrated once, not a second time. But one thing Elijah could certainly do in regards to Elisha’s request was to prophesy. That was his gift. And this is what he did – prophesy.
2 Kings 2:10. Elijah said, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if you do not see me, it shall not be so.”
What Yahweh was conveying to Elisha was that, though he’d following him through Gilgal, Bethel, Jericho, over the Jordan, through a war, through another encounter with Ahab and Jezebel, and through the brotherhood of prophets – through all the inherent dangers of such trips and their poverty and want, fatigue and futility – their crises – Elisha had not yet gone far enough. He was to follow Elijah to the very brink of eternity. He had to see the journey to the journey’s end. If he’d be there to see Elijah go, then Yahweh would grant a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. What this meant was that, if Elisha received the double portion, he’d live to prophesy twice as long as Elijah – fifty years instead of twenty-five. Now that’s the meaning of the double portion. So on they went.
This was the evening of anticipation. As they were walking and talking, something sudden and horrific happened right before their faces. Yahweh’s angel pitched a flaming meteor into the atmosphere that exploded with a tremendous crash and a blinding light, knocking Elijah and Elisha off the path, one on either side.
(I don’t consider this fiction. I’ve seen this happen myself. One late night in 1987 while driving south from Indiana University East down a country road, it was pitch black, and a huge flaming mass the size of the sun appeared directly ahead in the sky, lighting up the area as though it were day. It lingered for a moment then exploded with a tremendous shock wave. To this day, I wonder how I kept in control of the car.)
When it happened, Elisha cried in terror, “My father! My father! The Chariot of Israel and its Horsemen!” That’s a funny thing to say. Elijah was known as the “Chariot of Israel.” That was his nickname or title. Elisha cries out for his father in the faith, and calls him what everyone else does. “My father! My father! The Chariot of Israel and its Horsemen!” But Elijah isn’t up in a chariot; he IS the chariot. The raging explosion has formed a tornado powerful enough to whisk old Elijah off one side of the road to spin him into the sky, leaving Elisha to watch from the ditch. It all happened quickly and unexpectedly. But when it was again still, Elijah’s mantle came floating down; but the man was gone. And so was the meteor, the chariot, the horsemen and the wind. Only his mantle remained.
Elisha Returns to Israel
But Elisha got himself up, brushed himself off, tore off his shirt, and picked up the famous mantle of Elijah. Then Elisha turned himself around and started back – back to Israel and danger – back to the ranks of the false prophets. When he came to the Jordan, he slapped the water with the famous mantle and cried, “Where is Yahweh of Elijah?” Where? Yahweh was right there – in Elisha! The Jordan again parted, and Elisha crossed on dry ground, and all the false prophets hiding in the rocks realized that the spirit of Elijah, the Holy Spirit, was now the spirit of Elisha. They came out one by one to bow before the fearless young prophet of Yahweh.
“Sir, we’re going off to go look for your master now. The wind probably dropped him on the other side of the mountain.” But Elisha told them, “Go if you will, but you won’t find Elijah.” They went. The pity of it is that NOW they’re willing to follow Elijah since he’s gone and presumed dead. Now that he can’t be found, they want to find him. And though they admit that Elisha had received Elijah’s spirit, they prefer now to seek out the dead and gone rather than Yahweh’s Spirit, who’s standing right in front of their faces.
But isn’t this the story of religion? The dead seeking the dead? The powerless searching for the powerless. The blind leading the blind? The religious looking for something over the rainbow when the real thing is standing before them? Yes, that’s religion; that’s orthodoxy. George Warnock recognizes orthodoxy in his book, Crowned With Oil (pp. 96,97 Download it here).
Perhaps never in her history has the Church become more sterile, more worldly, more captivated by worldly principles, more embellished with earth’s adornment, as she is today – and yet so devoid of the glory of [Yahweh]. Never has she been so well equipped with earth’s resources; and yet never has she been so weak in her witness, so confused in her speech, so idolatrous in her worship, as she is today. Ten thousand voices cry out from the airwaves and beam down from the satellites above us – but where is that clear, pure, authoritative voice from the heart of [Yahweh]? –George Warnock,
My friends, the voice of Yahweh can yet be heard through the confusion. You may be privileged to recognize his as the still, small voice.
While the false prophets form a search party, Elisha puts on his new mantle and starts walking to Jericho. Elijah told him there were still a few in Israel who hadn’t kissed Lord Baal’s big toe. Now, he has a double portion of Elijah’s spirit – fifty years – to search out the lost and bring them together – to reform Israel – or see her to her doom. Elisha will achieve a measure of success in those long, dangerous years – with the help of the brotherhood of prophets, who finally left Baal to follow Elisha and the Spirit of Yahweh. Yet Israel’s kings would not be converted; thus Yahweh removed his protective hand from her, opening her to crisis, tribulation, invasion, conquest and dispersion.
Luke 10: 13. “Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14. But it shall be more tolerable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 15. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. 16. He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” (RSV)
Messiah Sends Forth
Five hundred years later, Elisha’s successor, Messiah, sends forth seventy-two “prophets” into the heart of what was once Israel, for Israel as a nation no longer exists. In the past centuries of apostasy, Israel had been scattered to the four winds. Now Messiah has come in the spirit of Elisha to save. Multitudes follow him. Thousands swear allegiance. Yahshua of Nazareth has the just claim on the throne of Israel, being in the bloodline of the Kings and having been born in the city of David – of the tribe of Judah from his father and of the tribe of Levi from his mother. He’s both king and priest, but his mission isn’t to assume lordship, but to rescue the poor, the poor in spirit and the lost of the house of Jacob. Out of the thousands that trail him, only seventy-two have closed in, as Elisha to Elijah, to the end of the road.
Messiah’s taught these men and women well. He’s rendered his spirit freely. He’s shown them signs that even Elijah in all his glory couldn’t perform. He’s proved that his manhood is entirely wrapped up in his sanctity. He’s given them his law, his blessing and his authority. And now he sends the seventy-two out in six groups of twelve, two by two. They have no money, no clothes, no food. They’re barefoot. Their only security is in their enthusiasm, their Master and their Father. Though seemingly bums for truth, they are harvesters of souls. The harvest is ready, but they’re few. “Pray the Master of the Harvest to send laborers!”
“There will be enough for everyone! Knock on a door. If they let you in, bless them. See if they’ll give you something to eat. If they do, eat! Stay as long as you can. Wear out your welcome! Heal the sick in there. Tell them the Kingdom of Yahweh is nearby. And if no one welcomes you, demonstrate! Shout in the streets, ‘We wipe off the dust of your town and leave it with you. Though the Kingdom is near, Sodom will be better off than you.’”
Of course, the seventy-two came back in success. “Master! Devils are cast out and the sick are cured.” “Amen, yet rejoice not that devils submit; rejoice instead for the greater miracle – that your names are written in the sky.”
The religious climate is similar in each of these Bible stories. There existed an orthodoxy; that is, a sticking to the accepted, customary, or traditional, in religion. Yet what was acceptable to the religious was neither Biblical nor adequate to the One who was supposedly being worshiped. Orthodoxy ultimately led Israel to disaster soon after the days of both Elisha and Messiah. And today, we’re in a similar spot. Despite what we’re told by orthodox religious leaders, we’re not in the midst of a reformation, a great revival or a spurt of new churches. More churches and more ministries do mean more – but more of the same old same old. There’s no judgment or desperation to follow truth. There’s no crisis. People think because the prophets of television or government believe the lie, then the lie is true. The lie is – MORE proves the blessing of Yahweh. But as in the former days of Israel, this lie eventually leads to crisis – crisis first to those who tenaciously hold to the truth – true worship, true doctrine and true deity. They will be tested and tried. The orthodox and spiritless will call them failures, as they did Elisha and Jesus, and will make every attempt to kill them. But afterward, the greater crisis will fall upon the orthodox, the nation and all those beasts engaged in “killing the prophets and stoning the apostles” (Luke 13:34).
“Crisis reveals, and absolute crisis reveals absolutely. We are in an hour of revelation, of light; things which have all along been concealed, cloaked and gilded over are now being revealed in all their stark proportions. Take conventional religion, for example, and all the unctuous claptrap about ‘the three Great Faiths.’ There is not a [bit] of faith to be found in any of them; they are religious establishments for the most part, religions of convenience! We have spent our time exchanging pulpits on Mother’s Day and Thanksgiving, congratulating ourselves for our benign attitude of tolerance one toward another, while, all the time, there is a G-d who is holy calling us to a Way. In this final hour, as the turmoil, consternation, and dismay of the world break forth, all of these foolish things are going to fall away.
“The collisions between light and darkness, between the Kingdom of [Yahweh] and the kingdom of this present world, are going to be nakedly revealed. There is not going to be any neutral ground to stand on, but only two positions: those who are in [Yahweh], walking in his way and reflecting his holiness, and those who have taken the lesser path. We will not be able to conceal things with [religious, political or orthodox] labels in that day. We shall be conspicuous as the children of [Yahweh], [we shall be] an accusation to the age. The “Jesus movement” is not going to be as acceptable as it has been until this hour. Believing is not going to be a matter of dropping a dollar in the collection plate or attending a function; it is going to be a commitment unto death. Those who shall walk in the way of [Yahweh] shall find themselves increasingly brought down into “Egypt,” into places of trial, testing, and isolation. It is in these places that [Yahweh] fashions souls and enables them to know Him in the fellowship of his sufferings; and [Yahweh] shall bring each of these chosen and yielded vessels up in due season to be used as an instrument of his salvation.”
Now that’s a long quote, but it really preaches! Amen?
Bums for Jesus
Can you see yourself as a biblical prophet, a disciple of Yahshua? Can you imagine yourself taking off your shoes and walking into Canoe, knocking on doors, looking for a place to stay? Do you think anyone would take you in if you didn’t have any money – not even a pocketbook? Wouldn’t people start talking: “So and so was so well off that she went to that church in Byrneville with all the rich folks, but now she’s a bag lady, going house to house. Why, she ‘don’t’ even have a purse. And they won’t lift a finger to help. And I told her to go away.”
We don’t call such people “prophets” today – we call them “bums.” Yet that’s what we have in both the Elisha story and the story of the Seventy-two. It’s a Bible Standard of evangelization. It’s also a TRIAL standard – and a CRISIS standard. “But we’re living in different days,” we reason! And we would reason rightly. Yet should we alter the Bible Standard to fit our thinking, or do we alter our thinking to fit the Bible Standard? Or is there another way?
The real question is, “What does it take this day for men and women to attain to spiritual maturity – the kind that Elisha won at great price or the seventy-two achieved through dedication to a man and a cause? Just what can empty a person and fill him again with something holy, strong and irresistible – with courage, authority and power – with a sense of mission, destiny and fulfillment? What is it? What does it take?” Must we become bums for Jesus? What is the question to be answered if we are to become that Elijah or Elisha, that Yahshua or one of the seventy-two prophets to a world in tribulation and close to the edge of disaster? I turn to Art Katz once again to give you both the question and the answer. He says,
There is only one crucial question: Are you a man or woman in whom the Spirit of [Yahweh dwells]? There is no such thing as spiritual neutrality. We receive our resources from either [Yahweh] or Satan. There is a fundamental decision to be made by every human being: ‘Which spirit shall I allow to come into and flood my life, to move and direct my being?’ Such a one is far more than religious; this is one who has separated himself from [the] spirit of this world and offers himself continually and fully to the Spirit of [Yahweh]. We who have made this choice will be sneered at and called ‘fanatical.’ Accusations will be leveled against us. This choice will bring us to places that we never expected to find ourselves in – pits and dungeons; but, when it shall please [Yahweh] at the end of the ages, he shall bring us forth as one man (sic) ... to give answer to a world that has none. (Katz, Reality, 34,35).
[ ] 2 Kings 2:1. This is what happened when Yahweh took Elijah up to heaven in the whirlwind...
[ ] Psalms 14 :1. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no Elohim.
[ ] Luke 10: 1. After this the Master appointed seventy-two others...
[ ] Orthodox means “Adhering to what is commonly accepted, customary, or traditional.”
[ ] Amos 5:4. For Yahweh says this to the House of Israel: Seek me out and you will survive,
[ ] “Bethel” means “house of a god”
[ ] Psalms 14:3. No, not one.
[ ] 2 Kings 2:9. “Let me inherit a double share of your spirit.”
[ ] 2 Kings 2:10. “If you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you...”
[ ] 2 Kings 2:12 “My father! My father! Chariot of Israel and its chargers!”
[ ] 2 Kings 2:14 “Where is Yahweh of Elijah?”
[ ] Warnock: “Ten thousand voices cry out from the airwaves...”
[ ] Luke 10: 13. “Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida!”
[ ] Luke 10:2. “Pray the Master of the Harvest to send laborers!”
[ ] Luke 10:20. “Your names are written in the sky.”
[ ] “Killing the prophets and stoning the apostles” (Luke 13:34)
[ ] Must we become bums for Jesus?
[ ] Katz: “Are you a man or woman in whom the Spirit of Yahweh dwells?”
Jackson Snyder, July 1, 2004