Elijah went into a cave and the Lord told him to come out. The Lord told Elijah to return to Israel because things were about to change. King Ahab’s days were coming to an end. Hazael, the next king of Syria, would destroy the household of Ahab and Jehu would take over as the new king of Israel. Elijah is also going to be replaced by Elisha.
When Elijah meets Elisha, the story goes off in an entirely new direction. Elijah, by himself, is an example of someone who is “just like us,” (James 5:17), someone just as insecure and unsure of himself and his relationship with the Lord as we are; someone just as weak, just as imperfect as we are, living proof the without the Lord we can do nothing but we can do everything through Him who gives us the strength. That’s what we see when we look at Elijah by himself.
But when Elijah meets Elisha, he becomes a “type;” he becomes a representation, a prototype of Christ. He’s no longer just like us. From now on, he’s just like Jesus. The relationship that develops between Elijah and Elisha is the kind of relationship the Lord wants us to have with Him.
The relationship between Elijah and Elisha teaches us about discipleship. It’s an example of what it means to be a follower, a student, a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ; a clear picture of who is and who is not a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.
First of all, their names are so similar: Eli-JAH… Eli-SHA. Even when you take the time to learn who they are, it’s still hard to keep them straight. It takes a lot of effort and concentration for me to keep from saying one when I mean the other. The mark of true discipleship is when people start getting us confused with Jesus; when people start having trouble telling the difference between Him and us. Wouldn’t that be great? Was that Allen or Jesus? I can’t keep them straight.
1 Kings 19:19a “So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat.”
In chapter 19:15-16, the Lord said, “Go back the way you came and… anoint Elisha… to succeed you as prophet.” So, “Elijah went… and found Elisha.” That’s how it all started. God, the Father, sent Jesus, God the Son, into the world to find you and me. Nobody finds God on their own. The Lord cannot be found. He finds us. He’s not lost, we are. Jesus went into the world and found us like Elijah found Elisha.
1 Kings 19:19b “He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him.”
It started out like just another ordinary day for Elisha until Elijah went up to him and threwhis cloak around him. That must have been quite a shock for Elisha. He never saw it coming. He probably heard stories about Elijah. Everybody in Israel knew about Elijah. They all knew about the things he had said and the miracles he had done. But Elisha had never personally met Elijah. He didn’t really know him and I doubt he was expecting Elijah to come up to him one day and introduce himself to him.
Elisha knew about Elijah, but Elisha had no idea that Elijah knew about him. He was shocked to learn that Elijah knew his name. We’ve all heard stories about Jesus, stories about the things He said and the miracles He did. Everybody knows about Jesus, but nobody ever dreams that Jesus knows them. Nobody expects Jesus to come up and grab our attention one day.
People may have tried to tell us about Jesus, but we really didn’t want to listen. We figured they’d get the hint and let us alone. But Jesus will never let us alone, not as long as we’re alive anyway. Jesus finds us and He comes up to us as close and as personal as Elijah came up to Elisha. Elijah threw his cloak around Elisha.
In the Old Testament Hebrew culture, when a woman became a widow or when a child became an orphan, when there was no one in the immediate family who could protect them, provide for them or love them, the closest male relative would “redeem” them. He would come up to them and throw his cloak around them. Covering someone with a cloak was an Old Testament. act of “Redemption.”
We’re all familiar with the story of Ruth found in the Book of Ruth. After Ruth’s husband died, Ruth went to Boaz who was actually a relative of her mother-in-law. But he was the closest thing to family Ruth had. Ruth went to Boaz and said: “I am your servant Ruth… Spread the corner of your garment over me since you are my kinsman-redeemer.” (Ruth 3:9)
Redemption involves paying a price for someone to become adopted into the family. Jesus became our redeemer. He paid the price for our redemption when He shed His blood for our sin on Calvary’s cross.
“He predestined us to be adopted as His children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will.” (Ephesians 1:5)
Because He is sovereign, the Lord decided, before he created us, to adopt everyone who would trust in the blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of sin and accept His free gift of everlasting life. It was His way of declaring “You belong to me now. You are a member of my family now. I’ll protect you. I’ll provide for you. I will love you as much as I love everyone else in my family. I want to share everything I have with you.”
As soon as Elijah threw his cloak around Elisha, everyone else immediately knew who Elisha was. That’s Elijah’s cloak and it’s been placed upon you. It gives you the authority to be a prophet and to speak God’s word. Elisha would use that cloak to demonstrate God’s power and confirm that the words he was speaking were God’s words, not his.
Jesus has given us His cloak, His authority to accomplish His Father’s will. We’re able to use His cloak, His name, His authority the way He’s used it to accomplish the will of the Father. Things will not be done by our own strength or our own power, but by His Spirit. The Lord sent Elijah to find and anoint Elisha. Elijah went out; he found and he anointed Elijah just as the Lord had commanded. Lord willing, we’ll be back here again next Tuesday. Thanks for being in God’s word with pastor Buj.