And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.
2 Kings 2:14
What a scene that must have been—to have been Elisha, watching the works of Elijah, and seeing the handiwork of God himself interceding on behalf of the faithful in Israel! His cry in taking up the mantle of Elijah has echoed through the halls of history. It is perhaps the most ardent rallying cry of believers, that we should live to see the visible and tangible proof of God in our lives. I think it to be a haunting cry of our day—with our arrogance and pride of the many things we have accomplished—but entirely forgetting that we are the created, and that which we have accomplished, if there be any good in it, ought to be laid at the feet of our creator. Instead, a thoughtful Christian, measuring the “progress” of our culture might shudder in despair over the huge movement away from God. Properly speaking, this cry ought to be the cry of modern Christians everywhere. Where is the Lord God of Elijah?
Elisha smote the waters, and walked over the Jordan on dry land. A large river was no impediment to beginning his own journey with the Lord—the Lord took the opportunity of the impediment to produce his glory, and so Elisha begins a ministry in answer to his prayer. God answered his prayers, giving him a double portion of Elijah’s spirit, and giving him exactly double the miracles of his mentor. What a privilege it must have been to be so blessed of God, and so used as Elisha was! And perhaps there is precisely the problem—we cannot have the ministry of Elijah unless we have the heart of Elisha. It seems to me that the one must precede the other. As Elisha took on the mirror image of his master, and was ready to step into his shoes of ministry, so we ought to be becoming mirror images of our Lord, ready for the great ministries that he beckons us toward. No less than the day of Elisha, we have skepticism everywhere. In the days of his mentor, Elijah, the prophets of the Lord were hidden in two caves by Obadiah, who fed them, and protected them from the very society that sorely needed their witness. True believers in our world often find themselves thrust into figurative caves, even as happened in Elijah’s day, and so we are “hidden” from our society. In America, it is a grand thing that state and church are separated, for that separation makes the church work to establish its own validity, and we must stand or fall by the power of God, but that separation comes with a high cost. Everywhere the Christian turns, he finds the truth of God difficult to announce, since the state trivializes the message of Christ, placing no more emphasis on the message of Christ than on Confucius or Mohammed. The message of the state to Christians thus becomes one that presses us into the insignificance. Messages, the state presses us, must be limited to the churches, and never the general society which is protected under the umbrella of the state. Thus, even the state seems to herd us into those figurative caves, where we are allowed to exist, but never to flourish.
Jesus would have us to be the salt of the earth, and thus we have a problem. How are we to become the faithful Elisha’s of our time, and present the truth that can free so many? So our question has changed from where is the Lord God of Elijah to where is the Elisha who sought the Lord so fervently? Just how might we approach gaining the heart of Elisha?
In a sense, the problem was the same in Elisha’s time, that is, Israel was forced to compete with religions. God had adopted Israel, but Israel had rejected that adoption, choosing instead to develop another state religion, one which all people everywhere were forced to participate in. Baal was the God in vogue then; we have the absence of God, and religion, to be the vogue now, and in the eyes of many, living without acknowledging God in any way is their preferred choice. Our schools, our courts, and even our politicians carefully cloak themselves with political correctness, insisting that no message is better than any other. So, in a very real sense, the challenge to be like an Elisha includes facing a similar problem—how do we reach a nation on the road to Hell?
So, if the job is the same, that we have to reach a lost generation, perhaps we do need to seek the image of Elisha, that we might be more like Elijah. Of course, Elijah is a type of Christ, loosely speaking, and when I say to emulate Elisha, I mean really that we should model ourselves after Christ.
One thing which Christ seemed to do that should challenge us; Christ did not hide in a cave, either literal or figurative, from the hostile society which eventually was to crucify him. Instead he met that society head on and when his disciples asked him not to go back into Judea, for fear of the Jews’ hostility, he would not be dissuaded (John 11:9). He pointedly said that those who would be his disciples should take up their cross and follow him.
Thus we should expect hostility to the message from heaven of peace from God. If they crucified our Lord when he brought the message, what will they do to his servants? Expecting opposition should not slow us though; he also gave us his own Spirit to live within us, telling us that if he did not go away from us, the Comforter would not come to us, but since he was going away this marvelous Comforter did indeed come to us, bringing all kinds of gifts to his saints who love him. Those gifts Paul enumerates as being love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control. Those are ours, not for the purpose of hiding in caves, metaphorical or otherwise, but to equip us in carrying the message of Christ to a lost world.
Pray ye the Lord, that he might send this laborers into the harvest. God has commanded us to pray, and he fully intends to send us into the thickest of the fray. Not alone. Not defenseless, but with all of his perfect presence in us, holding us up as stars in the night skies, testifying to men everywhere to turn from their dark deeds to the living light. In a way, our eyes have been opened, as when Elisha prayed for the eyes of his servant to be opened, and the servant suddenly saw all the chariots of fire around him. Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world. Even in losing our mortal flesh, yet we win because God is greater than our flesh, and has given us his word that he will raise again our mortal bodies. Nothing. Shall. Separate. Us. From. The. Love. Of. God. Ever.
So let us cry, and let us cry fervently, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” Who knows what His Spirit might use us to do? Where is the Lord God of Elijah?