1) Chariots of Fire (2:11) – Elisha was Elijah’s disciple – his prophet in training so to speak. Elijah is one of only a few people in Scripture who did not have to pass through death to enter God’s presence. Verse 11 says that “he went up to heaven in a whirlwind.” His disappearance was accompanied by a “chariot of fire and horses of fire.” Now I can only imagine what kind of impression this left on Elisha. And I suspect that it was something he thought about everyday for the rest of his life. And it reminded him, even when life and ministry got tough, to persevere with diligence and faithfulness because he knew what waited for him at the finish line. Now I have not ever had a chariots of fire experience but I have had some God moments that I often think back upon that sustain me when life is hard. They serve as reminders to me that God is alive and well and working to prepare me for the great and glorious day of salvation.
2) The Cloak of Elijah (2:13) – When Elijah went to be with the Lord he left behind his cloak. This was purposeful. He knew that it would be helpful for Elisha to have a tangible reminder of the time they had together. Elisha was bereft (v.12). But the cloak helped him deal with his grief as well as to give him a tangible symbol that he would always have of his mentor. So not only did he have the powerful memory of the chariots of fire but he had Elijah’s cloak to encourage him for the days ahead. This got me thinking – what tangible things do I have that I need to purposefully pass on to my kids and grandkids that can serve as motivating reminders for them as life comes at them full speed.
3) The Jeering of Elisha (vs.23-25) – This one is disturbing. But being a baldheaded fellow myself I find it kind of funny, in a tragic sort of way. Evidently Elisha was kind of sensitive to being bald. And evidently he didn’t understand that sometimes youth like to have some fun at the expense of other people. So when these youth made fun of Elisha’s follicly challenged head he called down a curse upon them in the name of the Lord and they were mauled by 2 bears. This didn’t really seem to bother Elisha as the Scriptures say rather matter of factly that he then “went up to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria.”
There are a lot of things in Scripture that I find disturbing. But I appreciate that this stuff is included in the Bible. The Bible is not some kind of sugar coated holy book that only paints a pretty picture of a well mannered God. I like the way that C.S. Lewis puts it at the end of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when Susan (referring to Aslan) says to Mr Beaver:
“Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…
“Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”