Today’s Thought and Text of Encouragement:
“Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.”
“It’s not a mansion, Lord, I want so much
But just a little shelter where Thine eye
Can be upon me and keep in touch,
Where Thou canst hear me, Lord, should
I but cry…
…Let me be near Thee, for I need it so!
However humble be my lot or task;
This precious comfort, Lord, on me bestow –
Just to be near Thee, this is all I ask.”
Today’s Study Text:
“And Elisha saw it and he cried, ‘My father, my father! The chariot of Israel and it’s horseman!’ And he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan. And he took the mantle that fell from Elijah and struck the waters and said, ‘Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?’ And when he had struck the waters, they parted this way and that, and Elisha went over. When the sons of the prophets who were watching at Jericho saw (Elisha), they said, ‘The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.’ And they came to meet him and bowed themselves to the ground before him.”
“The Master’s Mantle ”
Definition of Mantle: Some type of upper garment worn in Biblical times by both women and men. Many times the daily work was done while individuals wore only an undergarment such as a tunic or waistcloth for men. In inclement weather, and for protection at night an upper garment was also worn.
In the Old Testament, a mantle served as a protective covering. Mantles could be worn as an ornate or elaborate outer covering of the priestly order such as the coat Hannah made for her son, Samuel, each year. Another type of mantle was worn by prophets and kings – a distinctive garment often made of animal hair.
“It is easy to want things from the Lord and yet not want the Lord Himself; as though the gift could ever be preferable to the Giver.”
Augustine of Hippo
What does it mean to me to know that God wants to fill my life with His Spirit?
How have I used the gifts God has bestowed upon me?
“Each one has a place in the community of Christ, and ought to fill it, (we) ought not to be everywhere and want to take part in everything…Take note of what God gives you, then you will also know the task He set before you.”
Heinrich Emil Brunner
“Never underestimate the power of the gifts that are within you. Gifts and talents are given to us not only so that we can fulfill to the fullest the call in our own lives, but also so that we can reach the souls who are attached to those gifts.”
“Now there are distinctive varieties and distributions of endowments (gifts, extraordinary powers) distinguishing certain Christians, due to the power of divine grace operating in their (our) souls by the Holy Spirit, and they vary, but the Holy Spirit remains the same.”
1 Corinthians 12:4
Elijah had been taken to heaven in a fiery chariot, and now Elisha, left behind and alone, felt the intense loss that comes when someone we dearly love is taken from us.
The extent of Elisha’s grief is recorded in 2 Kings 2:12 where the Biblical record leaves this descriptive picture of the depth of Elisha’s sorrow: “And he (Elisha) saw him (Elijah) no more: and he (Elisha) took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.” I find the words of Matthew Henry in his commentary on II Kings 2 an effectual aid in helping bring clarity to the situation Elisha found himself in. As Henry explains:
“Elisha pathetically lamented the loss of the great prophet, Elijah…He rent his own clothes, in token of the sense he had of his own and the public loss. Though Elijah had gone triumphantly to heaven, yet this world could ill spare him, and therefore his removal ought to be much regretted by the survivors…Though Elijah’s departure made way for Elisha’s eminency…yet he lamented the loss of (Elijah), for he loved him, and could have served him forever.”
With the tremendous pain that comes from a broken heart, Elisha had to return toward the Jordan River – that roadblock that had been so easily crossed when Elijah was at his side. I wonder what thoughts were whirling through Elisha’s mind as with each step he made his way closer to the Jordan?
Upon arrival at the banks of the river, this prophet, who had just lost his closest mentor cried out, “My father, my father.” Matthew Henry’s insight here is welcome for he pinpoints the place from where these words came: “(Elisha) saw his own condition like that of a fatherless child thrown upon the world, and he lamented it accordingly.”
However, and this is so vital for each of us to understand today, through teary eyes, Elisha was able to see that his master’s mantle had fallen to the ground. While an exterior mantle, such as Elijah’s was not some valuable trophy with a magic aura surrounding it, this “gift” carried with it a legacy of the calling God had not only on Elijah’s life, but on Elisha’s as well. It was this mantle which Elijah placed on Elisha’s shoulders as he was plowing his father’s field. And now, this mantle, falling as Elijah ascended into heaven, symbolized in the most direct way, God’s spirit of empowerment on Elisha’s ministry. It was a gift that carried not just a message from Elijah, but more importantly from heaven’s courts above. As Matthew Henry continues to share his thoughts on this passage of Scripture, he notes that the mantle, “was a token of the descent of the Spirit upon (Elisha), it was more than if Elijah had bequeathed to him thousands in gold and silver.” This mantle was not designed to be a holy relic or a treasured idol to be worshipped. It was to be worn as a symbol of the presence of God’s Spirit in the one on whom it lay.
As Phillip Keller so eloquently expresses, “Elisha’s life would prove that Elijah’s faith in God was good to the very end. There fell upon the younger prophet the same Spirit, the same power, the same presence of the Living God that had been Elijah’s portion.”
The Spirit that gifted Elijah was now provided in Elisha’s life and gave him all that was necessary to fulfill God’s purpose, not only in his own life, but in the lives of the people of Israel, as well.
What a testimony has been left for us, because the same Spirit that filled Elijah and Elisha is prepared to work in your life and mine, today.
As Jesus promised His disciples before He left this earth, “When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16: 13-15, K.J.V.). And as the Apostle Paul reminded the Christians in the church in Corinth, “But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every (one) to profit withall. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues. But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every (one) severally as he will” (1 Corinthians 12: 7-11, K.J.V.).
There is one critical word in the passage above from the Apostle Paul I want to focus on and it is, “manifestations,” which in the Greek means to exhibit or to express. I choose to highlight this particular word for in the coming weeks, as we study the life of Elisha, we will find that down through history, God’s messengers have changed but His message has not. While the way God has His children express His message may vary down through time, the core of God’s Truth has not changed.
While it was not possible for the people in the time of Elisha to keep themselves from comparing the work of Elijah to Elisha’s ministry, as Pastor F. B. Meyer explains: “Though Elijah goes, Elijah’s God remains. He takes His weary workers home, but He is careful to supply their place, and to anoint others to carry on their work. It is His work, not ours…If you ask where He (God) is, an answer close behind you whispers, ‘I am here!’ You shall find that the Lord God of Elijah will do as much for you as for those swept to their reward.”
I encourage you to ask for the same Spirit which filled God’s children in past ages, to fill your life, today. God’s Spirit is alive and well – just waiting for you to open up your life to the empowerment of heaven. What gift is God waiting for you to let Him use right now?
“Exhibit God with your uniqueness. When you magnify your Maker with your strengths, when your contribution enriches God’s reputation, your days grow suddenly sweet.”
Cure for the Common Life
“Assist us, Lord, in living hopefully into the future. In the face of changes, help us to set unnecessary fears aside and to recognize our potential for creative response. Help us to develop optimism when confronted by “the new” and to guard against our own defensiveness. Be with us as we remember and celebrate former times, and keep us from unreasonable yearning for them, which takes us from the work You have set before us in our time. All this we ask in the name of Your Child, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.”
Reverend Linda C. Smith-Briddle
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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