Elijah Succeeded by Elisha; Chariots of Fire

2 Kings 1-2 and Psalm 63

“Man of God, the king says, ‘Come Down!'”

Ahaziah managed to survive a year as king of Judah (or as it is referred to here, “king of Samaria”), but his days are about to end. He has a fall and is seriously injured, so he dispatches messengers to call upon Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, to determine his fate. God sends an angel to Elijah to intercept the messengers and give Ahaziah a message, essentially, you will die for being an idiot.

When the messengers return with bad news from Elijah, Ahaziah immediately figures out where the message was from so he sends a captain and 50 men to fetch Elijah. The captain finds Elijah and shouts for him to come down!

Elijah answered the captain, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!” Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men. 2 Kings 1:10

Not once, but twice! The third band of men was led by a wise captain, “please have respect for my life and the lives of these fifty men, your servants!” (2 Kings 1:13). He begs Elijah to come down, so Elijah agrees. I bet no one even touched their sword!

Elijah is presented to the king and once again hears the message: you are going to die. Ahaziah had no son, so Joram, his younger brother succeeded him. End of chapter 1.

Elijah Taken Up to Heaven

Elisha and the company of prophets know that the day has come for the Lord to take Elijah from them. What they didn’t know was how he was to be taken. Elijah asks Elisha to let him go three times, but Elisha refuses, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you” (verses 2, 4 and 6).

Elijah uses his cloak to divide the waters of the Jordan as he and Elisha continue their journey. They walk across on dry ground as if it were just another day in the park. But this is the day the Lord will take Elijah so he asks Elisha for one last request,

“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied 2 Kings 2:9

The NIV Study Bible notes that this isn’t an extravagant request, rather, “Inheritance law assigned a double portion of a father’s possessions to the firstborn son (see Deuteronomy 21:17).”

Elijah called home:

Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. 2 Kings 2:11-12

I can’t help but remember the Rich Mullins song that references this narrative, “and when I go I want to go out like Elijah.” Same here Rich. I don’t want to taste the horrible disease my mother had to deal with. Strap me to a rocket when it’s time or let me vanish, but not a slow decay.

Elisha now takes the place of his master. He did indeed witness his departure and God granted him his desire to serve the kingdom well.

“Get out of here, baldy!”

Did someone really put that in the Bible? No joke! Elisha is walking to Bethel when:

some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” 2 Kings 2:23


Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. 2 Kings 2:24

Can someone say, “not a good plan boys?” The captains of the guard that were consumed by fire started this reading and we end it with bears mauling those who would dare taunt Elisha.

God takes care of his messengers.

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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