Monday, July 08, 2013

Elisha's story and Ministry

The lectionary reading two weeks ago was 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6-14.  If you have a chance, go read that passage.  When I read it last week, in preparation for an Office Devotional, lots of questions came to mind.

It is the story of Elijah and Elisha, when Elijah is about to be taken up in a chariot.
  1. First of all, look at a map as you read it.  They travel from Gilgal, then almost due west to Bethel, then almost due east to Jericho (not quite all the way back to Gilgal), and then further east to the Jordon River.  Why did Elijah travel so circuitously?  
  2. Why does he keep telling Elisha to stay put?  
  3. Why do the prophets keep asking Elisha if he knows what is happening, and why does Elisha tell them to keep it quiet?
I wonder if Elijah is testing Elisha.  Elijah knows well that this ministry is not easy.  Does he want to make sure that Elisha is committed?  Is that part of the reason they travel all over the place?

One source I read said that when Elisha asks for a double share of Elijah's spirit, he is asking for what the oldest son receives - he is asking to be Elijah's heir.  He is asking to follow in Elijah's footsteps.  So, even after all of the travel, and all of the questions, he (Elisha) is committed.

Another devotional I read said that Elisha can't be sure that he is doing God's will until he actually does it.  Elijah gives him a sign to watch for, but until Elisha chooses to pick up the mantle and to strike the river, he won't know if the water will part for him or not.

What can we learn from this?  Ministry isn't easy, and it requires a commitment.  Sometimes we don't really know if we are doing God's will until we actually step out in faith and do it.  Sometimes it takes action, not just listening, to hear God's word.

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