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river Jordan. There seem to have been sons of the prophets living at these places. And it may have been to let them see Elijah, and know of his ascent, that he was thus sent from place to place. For the sons of the prophets, both at Bethel and Jericho, said to Elisha, “knowest thou that the Lord wilt take away thy master from thy head today ?”
Moreover, by these successive journeys was the faith of Elisha tried, and his love proved. When Elijah said at each place, he must go, for the Lord sent him, Elisha was most determined not to leave him. “Elijah said to Elisha, tarry ye here, for the Lord hath sent me to Jericho. He said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee : so they two went on.” This happened three times, at three different places. Now, if Elisha had not followed Elijah, he had not had his last
prayers and parting blessings, nor would he have seen him go up into heaven. But if he had been faint-hearted, lukewarm, or worldly, he would have tarried, and not have clung to Elijah as he did.
They now cross the Jordan together. But not in a boat or swimming in the waters, but dry shod. This is the last miracle
Elijah did. “He took his mantle and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground.”
Then came Elisha's opportunity. He had clung to his master to the last. His master in leaving him, would not leave him destitute. So it came to pass, “when they were gone over, Elijah said unto Elisha, ask what I shall do for thee before I be taken away from thee. And he said, I pray thee let a double portion of thy spirit be upon
Thus you see Elisha knew well how to use this gracious opportunity. He asked not for worldly blessings; he asked not for gold, or clothes, or provision. He asked for spiritual blessings. He asked for that which would benefit others more than himself. See his faith too, in asking largely for what he desired. Not only Elijah's spirit, but a double portion of it.
Elijah said it was a hard thing he had asked for. Not hard for God to give. “Is anything too hard for the Lord ?” But, probably, he felt God had endued him with a large measure of the Spirit, more than those prophets before him had had; it might
; therefore be beyond the purpose
and plan of God to give to another man, more than, even double, what he himself had had. Yet he had faith God would even grant this prayer. So he gave Elisha a sign. If he should see him, as he went up into heaven, it should be so. He saw him, and it was so. Henceforth Elisha was endued with the wonder-working power which Elijah had had. From that time he worked many and many more miracles than Elijah had. He begun with parting the waters of the Jordan. He took up Elijah's mantle, which dropped from him as he went into that glory where he would have no need of such clothing. And with it, Elisha smote the waters, and they divided. The power was not in the mantle. The power was in the spirit of faith that Elisha had received from above. He had seen Elijah do the same. He believed he had greater power than his master, he doubted not therefore.--"He smote the waters, and said, Where is the God of Elijah ?" And he had a dry path before him.
And now are there not some blessed lessons to be learned from this history! Do we not see some resemblance between the ascent of Elijah, and the ascent of a greater than Elijah. And some likeness in the blessings bestowed in the one case, and in the other! First, as in the case of Elijah,
that I go
when our blessed Lord went up into heaven, His departure procured greater blessings for His people than His bodily presence had done. He told His disciples who were sorrowing because they were going to lose him, “It is expedient for you away, for if I go not away the Comforter will not come, but if I depart I will send him unto you.” (John xvi. 7.) Moreover, He told them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you,
he that believeth on me, the works that I do, shall he do also ; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (xiv. 12, 13.)
And so it proved indeed. The mantle of Christ fell upon the apostles. The same kind of miracles that Christ did, Peter did, and St. Paul did also. They healed diseases. They even raised from the dead. And what was still more wonderful, they healed souls, and raised those dead in trespasses and sins. Not indeed in their own strength
But in the name of Jesus, and by the power of His Spirit.
So that more souls were converted on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost was sent down by Jesus, than had been during all the
ministry and by all the teaching of Jesus. Yet of course not a word had Jesus spoken in vain. What Jesus had said, and what Jesus had done, were the foundation of that preaching which the Holy Ghost blessed to the conversion of souls. Yet so it pleased God it should be, that a greater blessing came to the Church after Jesus had gone up into heaven.
Jesus “ascended up on high, and received gifts for men, even for the rebellious."
Observe also, as it was in answer to the prayers of Elijah, that Elisha received the Spirit of his master, so did the prayers of Christ prevail to obtain the Holy Ghost for His people. But herein see a vast difference. Elijah had some doubts whether so much as was asked by Elisha could be obtained by his intercession. He felt not confidence in the success of his prayers, perhaps from a deep sense of his own unworthiness. But not so in the intercession and prayers of our Great Intercessor, Jesus Christ. His merits are sufficient to obtain all that is wanted for every one of His people, their salvation, their happiness. There is no such thing as their asking too much. He promises to do all we ask. He undertakes to do far more than we ever should think to ask.