FAITHFULLNESS – the KEY to an EFFECTIVE MINISTRY: And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, "Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?" Elisha said, "Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me." (2 Kings 2:9)
Elisha, the son of Shaphat, was a farmer engaged in plowing his field when the mantle of the prophet Elijah first fell upon him signifying the call from God for a higher ministry (1 Kings 19:19). Elisha demonstrated his commitment to his new calling by destroying the means of his former livelihood, turning his back on his parents and friends and following Elijah as his servant (v. 20-21). In fact, his new assignment was described by others as ‘pouring water on the hands of Elijah’ (2 Kings 3:11b).
After following Elijah for so long, it was now time for the transfer of the prophetic mantle to Elisha (2 Kings 2:1-7). The Lord had let Elijah know that his time was at hand. He therefore went to the different schools of the prophets in Gilgal, Bethel and Jericho to give them his last exhortations and blessing. All his efforts, however, to prevail on his attendant Elisha to remain behind, were fruitless. Elisha knew that the time was at hand, and at every place the sons of the prophets spoke to him of the approaching removal of his master. Elisha had long followed Elijah, and he would not leave him now as he hoped to receive the God’s anointing through Elijah’s parting blessing. Like the rod of Moses, the mantle of Elijah had the divinely operating power of the Spirit and parted the Jordan River which enabled both Elijah and Elisha to cross over on dry ground (v. 8).
The request by Elisha for a "double portion of Elijah's Spirit" (v. 9) was applied to the first-born (Deut 21:17), and therefore Elisha's request was, simply, to be heir to the prophetic office and gifts of his master. His request was granted because Elisha was faithful to his calling and stuck with Elijah like glue even until the very moment when Elijah was transported to heaven in a chariot of fire (v.10-12). The prophetic mantle of Elijah now fell upon Elisha as he continued his ministry with double fervor.
The removal of Elijah from the world was a type and figure of the ascension of Jesus Christ, and the opening of the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Like Elisha, we are following Christ and His teachings. It is very important that we should be faithful in our commitment to our calling even unto death. When God will take up His faithful children to heaven, death is signified by the Jordan River which they must pass through. The death of Christ has already divided those waters so that the ransomed of the Lord may pass over, and boldly say: "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?" (1 Cor 15:55)
Let us "not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherited the promises" (Heb 6:12). "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful" (Heb 10:23). Let us "be faithful until death, and God will give us the crown of life" (Rev 2:10).