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2 Kings 2:1-15

The Spirit and Power of Elijah

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • January 16, 2022
  • Sermon Notes
  • Transcription
  • Scripture

The Spirit and Power of Elijah
2 Kings 2:1-15
January 15-16, 2022                             

This is the famous story of when God took up Elijah to heaven. Elijah was one of only two people in the Bible who never experienced death. The other was Enoch. It is written in Genesis 5 that Enoch walked with God and was no more.

There is something beautiful about the kind of relationship both Elijah and Enoch had with God that they would not experience death. It’s a lesson in desiring the beautiful life of walking with God in the journey before you.

This story is not only about Elijah, however, it’s also about Elisha. He had been walking with Elijah for the last six or seven years. Their friendship was truly a gift of God.

After Elijah’s great spiritual victory on Carmel and the defeat of 450 prophets of Baal, and after Jezebel heard what happened, she sent a messenger to Elijah saying, “Your life will be like those prophets whom you killed by this time tomorrow.”

Then you read words you think ought never be written to describe Elijah, “He was afraid and ran for his life.”

It was at that lowest point of his life, when he came to the place where he asked God to take his life, he then said, “I’m the only one left and now they seek my life to take it away.” God responded by telling Elijah to arise and move forward in the purpose and calling of his life, to anoint kings and prophets, and to anoint and raise up Elisha as prophet.

God gave Elijah a friend, someone to walk with, someone to encourage and to train as the next powerful prophet in Israel who would take his mantle and move in power.

Elijah found Elisha plowing with 12 pair of oxen. He approached him as he was plowing and threw his mantle over him. Elisha immediately recognized it as an invitation, he sacrificed the oxen with which he had been plowing and burned the plow.

From the lowest point in Elijah’s life to the story that unfolds in 2 Kings 2, there is a powerful transformation.

God reveals the work and power of the Holy Spirit through the lives of Elijah and Elisha in these verses. There are great life lessons to take hold of and apply in the story.

I.  Keep Watching and Waiting

  • Elisha knows in the Spirit that the time of Elijah’s departure will soon come. He’s watching and waiting, he doesn’t know the day or the hour, but he knows it will be soon.
  • It’s interesting that in Israel, even today, there is a watching and waiting for Elijah. The prophet Malachi, when he spoke of the great and terrible day of the Lord that is coming upon the earth in the latter days, prophesied that Elijah would come first to make ready a people prepared for the Lord…

Malachi 4:5, “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the father’s so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.

  • Therefore, Jews even today believe that Elijah is the one who will announce the coming of the Messiah in the latter days.
  • Elijah is celebrated in a Jewish song traditionally sung during the Havdalah service at the close of Shabbat, the sabbath. This song includes a prayer for Elijah’s return “in our time.”
  • At the Passover, or Seder, an empty chair is placed at the table for Elijah and a glass of wine is poured anticipating and longing for the appearing of Elijah to usher in and proclaim the coming of the Messiah.
  • Elijah’s last journey and the route he took were significant. They start out from Gilgal, travel on to Bethel, from Bethel they traveled to Jericho, and from Jericho to the Jordan River.
  • Each of these locations has significant spiritual meaning in the history of Israel. As they traveled from Gilgal they were met by the sons of the prophets at each place.
  • There was at each city a school of the prophets and each group, called the sons of the prophets, knew that Elijah’s day had come.
  • Finally, after they crossed the Jordan, Elijah turned to Elisha and said, “Ask what I shall do for you before I’m taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.”
  • “You’ve asked for a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “nevertheless, if you see me when I’m taken from you, it shall be so for you.”
  • Be watching, be waiting, is what Elijah was telling him. And there are great spiritual applications here as well.

    A.  Stay spiritually alert

  • The sons of the prophets knew that the time was near when Elijah would depart. They didn’t know when, but they sensed in the Spirit it would be soon.
  • Many Bible scholars also connect Elijah being taken up as a picture of the rapture of the church. No one knows the day or the hour of the rapture and there is a similar watching and waiting for the revealing of the signs of the times.
  • That sense of urgency, of anticipation, and longing for the rapture and the return of the Messiah is what Jesus referred to when He said to “stay on the alert.”

Matthew 24:36-39, 42, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be… Be on the alert, therefore, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.”

  • Something to consider, however, is this; what if you did know the hour and it was many years yet distant in the future. How would you live your life?

Illus – If that day was far distant, many people would procrastinate in preparing their lives, like many did in school, waiting until the last minute to even begin a project. In other words, spiritual laziness would set in.

            This is what Jesus meant when he said that the coming of the Son of Man will be like the days of Noah. They were going about their lives and did not understand until the flood came and took them all away. You then, being on the alert, be watching and waiting and be ready.

Matthew 16:2-3, “When it is evening, you say, ‘it will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times?”

  • The signs of the times we see in the world today indicate that the time of the latter days is drawing near. Therefore, be watching and waiting and preparing your lives.

Mark 13:33, 36-37, “Take heed, be on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come… Therefore, be on the alert – in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’”

      B.  Be faithful in your walking

  • At each of the places Elijah traveled on his last earthly journey, he turned to Elisha and asked him to stay behind. Each time Elisha gave him the same answer, “I will not leave you.”
  • God was doing something here in both Elisha and Elijah.
  • It’s interesting to compare these events to an earlier time in Elijah’s life when he came to his lowest point. Running for his life, he came to Beersheba where he left his servant, traveled another day’s journey into the desert and wanted God to take his life.
  • From there he went alone to Mount Horeb and when God asked him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Part of his answer was, “I alone am left.” Part of God’s response to Elijah was to tell him that he was to anoint Elisha. He would never be alone again. This was part of God’s encouragement to Elijah. God demonstrated His faithfulness to Elijah again and again.
  • And the faithful qualities of Elisha cannot be missed. Elisha faithfully followed Elijah as his spiritual father since the day Elijah threw his cloak over him. Elisha was determined to be faithful to this calling to the very end. “I will not leave you,” he said over and over.
  • Here is a faithful servant. God’s leaders begin as good servants and God’s leaders are faithful to continue as servants – servant leaders.

1 Corinthians 4:2, In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found faithful.

  • It is Elisha’s faithfulness that brings the opportunity for the greatest blessing on Elisha’s life. After they crossed the Jordan, Elijah asked Elisha, “What shall I do for you before I’m taken from you?”
  • Here, Elisha asked for a wonderful thing; “please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.”
    Though this was a difficult request, Elijah promised that it would be granted if Elisha would see him when he was taken by God.

App – what a great question; what is it you desire? What is it that you want God to do for you?

            Elisha’s answer revealed that not only was he a faithful servant, but his heart was also set on spiritual things, not on earthly things. He saw the spirit and power of the Elijah and that’s what he wanted, and he wanted a double portion.

            What is it you desire? Do you have a spiritual longing?

       C.  Don’t set your heart on things of the earth

  • Many people set their heart and their eyes on earthly things. Elisha wanted a double portion of the spirit of Elijah. He had set his heart on a great spiritual desire.
  • The apostle Paul wrote to young Timothy about a man who shipwrecked his life spiritually…

2 Timothy 4:10, …for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me…

  • Many people have their eyes set on earthly things, that is what they dream about, that is what they long for, but the end of those things is emptiness and death. Life does not consist of those things.
  • Where you set your heart will determine the outcome of your life.

Romans 8:5-6, For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.

2 Corinthians 4:18, While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Illus – When I was young, a pastor challenged me to consider my priorities. What did I want to accomplish with my life?

  • In other words, what are your life goals? To amass earthly possessions or to make a difference for eternity?

Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

II.  Desire the Spirit and Power of Elijah

  • What Elisha asked for was a double portion of the spirit of Elijah. That leads us to the question, what is the spirit of Elijah?
  • While we’re asking the question, another question immediately follows; can we today ask for the spirit of Elijah?

      A.  Ask for a double portion

  • First, it’s important to understand what scripture means by a “double portion.”
  • Elisha was not asking for the spirit of Elijah multiplied by two. He wasn’t asking for twice as much as Elijah had. He was asking for an inheritance of which he would have the greater portion.

Deuteronomy 21:17, “But [a father] shall acknowledge the firstborn… by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; to him belongs the right of the firstborn.”

  • The spirit of Elijah was the Spirit of the living God. Elijah had no power of his own, all that he did he did by the power of the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit that is given to you and me as a pledge of our inheritance.

Ephesians 1:13-14, You were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given us a pledge of our inheritance, God wants you to ask for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on your life.

Luke 11:11-13, “Now suppose one of your father’s is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will be? If you then… know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”

Luke 11:9-10, “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.”

      B.  Make ready a people for the Lord

  • When you look at the spirit and power of Elijah, you must then look at the Gospel of Luke where Zacharias the priest was told that his barren wife Elizabeth would have a son…

Luke 1:13- 17, “You will give him the name John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

  • John did not do miracles; that is not required for the spirit and power of Elijah. But what John did do was to call people to repentance with boldness and strength. He made ready a people prepared for the Lord.
  • It’s also important to see that though Elijah’s faith failed, God used him. God didn’t give up on him, he strengthened and encouraged him. The day he was taken up to heaven, he was a mighty man of God. Heaven gained a hero that day.

Illus – Didn’t the disciples also have failures of faith? How many times did Jesus call them, “O ye of little faith”? Yet, by them God turned the world upside down.

  • God doesn’t give up on you either. Ask God for a double portion of the spirit and power of Elijah, for it is the Spirit of the living God that will anoint and empower to give your life meaning and purpose.
  • If you walk with God in the course set before you, He will give you a beautiful life. Be watching and waiting and longing for the day of His return!

The Spirit and Power of Elijah
2 Kings 2:1-15
January 15-16, 2022   

Amen. 2 Kings 2 is a very famous story in the Old Testament of when Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah did not experience death. He is one of only two people in the Bible who did not experience death. Now, Moses was deeply honored because God attended to his death, but only two did not experience, Elijah and the other one is Enoch. It tells us that in Genesis 5 that Enoch walked with God and was no more. In other words, he just kept right on walking into the presence of the Lord.

There's something beautiful about the kind of relationship that Elijah and Enoch had that they would not experience death. It's like a lesson in desiring a beautiful life in walking with God in this journey set before you. Now, 2 Kings 2 is not only a story about Elijah, it's also about Elisha. The relationship that God has given to them is really an integral part of the story and the history of Israel. It goes back, let me remind you a little bit of the backstory of Elijah because it has to do with what happened after Elijah's lowest point. His lowest point came right after his highest point.

If you remember now, the nation's divided north and south. In the north, it's a time of tremendous spiritual darkness. Ahab is the king, the evilest of kings in the north, and following after the gods of the world around them, Baal, Ashtoreth, Molech. Not only did he set up idols, but he worshipped them. Not only that, he married that woman, that wicked woman, Jezebel. What did God do in response to such spiritual darkness? Really a lesson itself. What does God do in response to such evil, such spiritual darkness? He sent a prophet to call them back to revival. That's the heart of the Lord. To bring them back, to call them from the depths of their spiritual darkness.

He challenged Ahab, bring 450 prophets of Baal and bring the people of Israel to Carmel, where he had this tremendous epic challenge to the people. He's calling them to repentance. He's calling them back. To the people, He calls out to them, how long are you going to waver between two opinions? How long are you going to be in the middle? If Jehovah is God, then follow Him. Now that stands true today. That challenge stands true. If God is God, then He ought to be followed. If Jehovah is Lord, He ought to be honored in your life. Amen? Then he adds, "Hey, if Baal is God, then follow him." The challenge.

Then, of course, they were to set up a bullock on an altar, call out to Baal, and then he was set up, the bullock called out to Jehovah, which God answered by fire, "He's the Lord." The people said, "This is good." The prophets of Baal chanted all day and no one answered, and nothing happened. No fire, nothing. Then at the end of the day, remember the story, Elijah sets up the bullock on the altar, a simple prayer, "Oh God, show yourself to these people today in power," and fire came from heaven and consumed the altar and the sacrifice and all. The people shouted, "The Lord, He is God. He is the Lord. Seize the prophets of Baal. Let none of them escape," and they were all slew there at the brook.

That was the greatest point of spiritual victory followed immediately by Jezebel. When she heard word of this, she sent a threat. "You by this time tomorrow will be like one of those prophets." You then read words y'all think never ought to be written about Elijah. It says, "He was afraid and ran for his life." He got to the lowest point of his life. It tells us he went down to Beersheba, left his servant there, went another day in the desert, and got to the point where he said, "I'm done. Enough. I cannot do this anymore. Take my life." See, when you get to the point where you say to the Lord, "Take my life," you're at the lowest point. Despair, despondency.

Then he went to Mount Horeb, where God spoke to him in that gentle voice. "What are you doing here, Elijah?" He said, "I am the only one left." Here's the amazing part of the story. What did God do in response to such despair, such despondency? Didn't reject Elijah, didn't rebuke him, didn't harshly correct him, but He encouraged him. He nourished him with food, gave him sleep twice, then He let him sleep and gave him nourishment, and then spoke that word to him, "You are the only one left? No, I have 7,000. I have 7,000 who have not bent their knee to Baal."

Then he says to Elijah, "Arise. Go forth in the power of your ministry, anoint kings and prophets." Then he said to him, "Anoint Elisha." Elisha then will be this friend that God has given to him. Someone to walk with, someone to encourage, someone to train as the next prophet in Israel who would take the mantle and move in power. Remember the story, Elijah finds Elisha plowing with 12 pair of oxen. Elijah comes up, tosses his mantle, his cloak over him, and Elisha immediately recognizes an invitation to be the next prophet.

He says to Elijah, "Let me go kiss my father and my mother, and then I'll follow you." Elijah says, "Go do whatever." In other words, he just dismisses that. "Go do whatever you wish. What have I done?" Elisha immediately recognizes what that means and does not go back to kiss his father and his mother. He instead sacrifices the animals, burns the plow. You want to talk about no turning back, when you burn the plow, you're not going back.

He's been walking with him now for these last six, seven years. From that lowest point to this point, there is such an amazing transformation. God, at this point, is going to receive Elijah to heaven and he is a man of great power. He is a hero of every dimension. Let's read the story of it. There's great things to apply to our lives. 2 Kings 2:1 came about, "when the Lord was about to take up Elijah by a whirlwind to heaven, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, 'Stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel,' but Elisha said, 'As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.' So they went down to Bethel." Right away, you sense this relationship. Elisha sees him as his spiritual father.

"Then the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, 'Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?' He said, 'Yes, I know. Be still.'" In other words, "Don't say it, don't speak it. I know this." "Then Elijah said to him, 'Elisha, please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Jericho,' but he said, 'As the Lord lives, as you yourself live, I will not leave you.' So they came to Jericho. The sons of the prophets who were at Jericho approached Elisha and said to him, 'Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?' And he said, 'Yes, I know. Be still.'

Then Elijah said to him, 'Please stay here for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan,' and he said, 'As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.' So, the two of them went on. Now, 50 men of the sons of the prophets went and stood opposite them in a distance, while the two of them stood by the Jordan." 50 men watching them as they're descending, as they're walking toward the Jordan watching this whole scene unfold.

"Elijah then took his mantle," his cloak, we might call it a long coat, "He took his mantle, folded it together, struck the waters, and they were divided here and there so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground." This, I tell you, there is deep significance. If we have the time to really understand, there is a deep significance of what happened right there. "Now it came about that when they had crossed over, that Elijah then said to Elisha--" Very, very famous scene unfolds now. "Elijah turns to him and says, 'Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.'

Elisha answered and said, 'Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.' And he said, 'You have asked a hard thing; nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if not, it shall not be so for you.' Then it came about as they were going along and talking," and I love this scene. I love imagining how scenes unfold, and they're just walking along the road, and they're talking amongst themselves, and I just imagine now Elijah knows this is it. He will be taken from him. What are they talking about? Don't you just want to hear this conversation unfolding?

"As they're walking along and talking," it says, "then behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire," Clearly, fire is a picture of the presence of the Lord, picture of the angels of heaven, chariot of fire, famous in the Scripture, "horses of fire come and separate the two of them. And Elijah went up in a whirlwind to heaven," never experiencing death. Elisha saw that and he cried out, "My father, my father. The chariots of Israel and its horsemen." In other words, my father speaks of his relationship to him, how he admired him, how he respected him as his father.

The chariots of Israel and its horsemen means the power and protector of Israel. What shall we do? Oh, what shall we do? The chariots of Israel and its horsemen. "Then he took hold of his clothes and tore them in two pieces," which was a common Hebrew demonstration of the deepest grief. "Then he took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him and returned and stood by the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and struck the waters and then he called out, 'Where is the Lord, Jehovah, God of Elijah?' And when he had struck the waters, they were divided here and there, and Elisha crossed over."

Again, God is confirming. God is demonstrating that he does in fact have the spirit and power of Elijah. "Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho opposite him saw him, they said, 'The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.' And they came to meet him, and they bowed themselves to the ground before him." What a scene is this. Of course, we looked at the other verses around it on Wednesday, but there's so much, and there is much prophetic significance in this.

I.  Keep Watching and Waiting

Let's take hold and apply it to our lives starting with this understanding that we can see for our lives today. That is, to keep watching and to keep waiting. Elisha knows in the Spirit that the time of Elijah's departure is come. He's watching, he's waiting. He doesn't know the hour, but he's watching and he's waiting. He knows it will be soon. It's interesting, in Israel, even today in Israel, there is an expectancy, there is a watching and a waiting for Elijah to come. Now, there is an expectancy in Israel for the Messiah, but they believe that Elijah will also come first, and he will be the one who will come as a forerunner of the long-awaited Messiah that would come. Notice this comes to us out of Malachi 4:5. It's very important.

Jesus refers to it. Malachi 4:5. "Behold," prophetic word, "I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord." This He is speaking of is that in the latter days, there will be a period of time where the wrath of God is poured on the world. We would call it the tribulation period, that seven-year period yet to come in the end of the age. He says, I will send Elijah before the coming of that great and terrible day of the Lord. And he will restore the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with the curse." He's speaking of Israel.

Even today, they believe that Elijah is the one who will come to announce the Messiah in the latter days. Therefore, Elijah is celebrated even today in Israel. For example, at the end of the Sabbath day, at the end of the Shabbat, they have a little ceremony to end the day. That ceremony is called the Havdalah. Part of it is a little hymn they sing, but in the words of the hymn include the words that they are praying for Elijah to quickly come in our time. Such is the expectancy.

At the Passover, the Seders supper, the Passover supper, the Jewish tradition even today is to have an empty seat at the table for Elijah. They even will pour a glass of wine for Elijah, waiting with such expectancy. Then even when they circumcise a boy, they sing that song calling out for Elijah to come in his time. May he come in the life of this boy, each very powerful understanding and expectancy of watching, of waiting.

Elijah's last journey that were read here and the route that they took were very significant. They started Gilgal. They go to Bethel. Then they go to Jericho. Then to the Jordan. Each of these places are very significant in the history of Israel. As they traveled from Gilgal, they're met by these sons of the prophets at each place. There was a school of the prophets in each one, and they knew in the spirit that Elijah's day had come. Do you know your master will be taken from you? Finally, after they cross to Jordan, Elijah turns to Elisha, "Ask what I shall do for you before I'm taken from you." "Please," he says, "let a double portion of your spirit be upon me."

A.  Stay spiritually alert

"You ask a difficult thing; nevertheless, if you see me when I'm taken from you, it shall be done." If you see me, if you're watching, if you're waiting, if there's an expectancy," and I tell you, there are great spiritual applications, because what he's saying in saying such is that the saying that the Lord would say to us today. That is, stay spiritually alert. This we must recognize is the need of the hour. Stay spiritually alert as the sons of the prophets knew the time was near.

Interestingly many Bible scholars connect Elijah not experiencing death but being taken up to heaven as a picture of the rapture of the church. No one knows the day or the hour of the rapture. There is a similar watching and waiting for the revealing of the signs of the times. There needs to be in the church today a sense of urgency, of longing for the rapture, of the return of the Messiah that Jesus referred to. Then he said, "Therefore, you stay on the alert."

Notice Matthew 24. This is where Jesus spoke of it in verses 36 to 39 and we have verse 42. Jesus said, "Of that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels of heaven nor the Son, but the Father alone. For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood, they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were giving in marriage." In other words, they are oblivious to any sense of spiritual urgency. They are oblivious. They're living their lives in the world without any understanding of the urgency of the matter. "Until the day that Noah entered the ark, they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away, so will the coming of the Son of Man be."

Then he adds, "Be on the alert, therefore, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming." An interesting thing to consider. What if you did know the day and what if you did know? How would you respond if you did know the day and it was like way out there? Let's say that you knew the day and the hour of your death, let's imagine, and it was way out there. What would you do? I suggest to you that there are many who would, let's say, spiritually procrastinate. You know what I'm saying? It's like what people do in school when they wait till the last minute before they start their project. They wait till the last minute before they start studying for their exam.

Shall I raise my hand as the only one who did such a thing? I know that many actually are procrastinators. I think that that's what would happen in many people's lives. They would become spiritual procrastinators. There's plenty of time. There's plenty of time, but this is what Jesus meant when He said that the coming of the Son of Man will be like the days of Noah. They're going about their lives without any sense of spiritual urgency until the flood came and took them away.

"Therefore," He says, "you be on the alert," watching and waiting, watching for the signs of the times, see what's happening in the world. See, this is what Jesus said in Matthew 16:2-3. A very famous illustration when He brings this point clear. He says, "Now when it's evening, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.' In the morning, you say, 'It will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.'" We have a saying for it also, "Red at night, sailors delight; red at morning, sailors take warning." We have a very similar thing.

He adds, "Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky but cannot discern the signs of the times?" Be alert, be watching, that's what He's saying. A sense of spiritual urgency. The science of the times that we are now seeing in the world indicate that the time of the latter days is drawing near. We are in that period that I believe Jesus referred to as those birth pangs by which the events, the troubles of the latter days will grow greater in intensity and closer together as the time draws near. Therefore, be watching and waiting, preparing your lives with a sense of spiritual urgency.

Look what's happening in the world right now. People can sense there is a spiritual darkness that is arising in this world. Anybody agree with me? There is a deep spiritual darkness that is arising in this world. You see what's happening in the nations, you see what's happening in the condition of people's souls, there is a darkness that's arising. Jesus said also in Mark 13, "Take heed, be on the alert, you do not know when the appointed time will come. Therefore, be on the alert in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. What I say to you I say to all: be on the alert."

      B.  Be faithful in your walking

Don't be in a condition, a spiritual slumber. Now there's a sense of urgency. Then we add this out of the 2 Kings 2. Be watching and be waiting but be faithful in your walking while you're waiting. While you're watching, be faithful in the walking. Each of the places Elijah travelled on this last journey, he turned to Elisha, asked him to stay there. Elisha gave the same answer each time, "I will not leave you." God is doing something here.

It's interesting to see what's happening now. Elijah has become such a man of tremendous greatness. What transformation has come from that lowest point there, now to this place where he is a man of tremendous greatness in the spirit. You see the faithfulness of Elijah, but the faithfulness of Elisha, his servant now, cannot be missed. Elisha faithfully served him, follow with him as his spiritual father since the day that Elijah threw that cloak over him. Elisha was determined to be faithful to the very end, "I will not leave you." Over and over and over, "I will not leave you."

In other words, my course is set. There is no turning back, I will not leave you. Here is a faithful servant. God's leaders always begin as good servants, faithful servants, and God's leaders must continue as God's servants, servant leaders. Notice 1 Corinthians 4:2, "In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found faithful." It's a spiritual principle of the kingdom. It is Elisha's faithfulness that brings the opportunity for the greatest blessing on Elisha's life. When they crossed the Jordan, Elijah then turns to Elisha, "What shall I do for you before I am taken from you?"

Here, Elisha has an incredible opportunity because it's an open question. The question could be answered in any myriad and amount of ways. "What shall I do for you before I am taken from you?" Elisha asked for a wonderful thing, "Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me." Though this is a difficult request, Elijah promised that it would be granted if Elisha would see him when he was taken by God from him. What a great question is this. How would you answer that? If God were to ask the very same question of you today, how would you answer that question?

What shall you have me do for you? Let's imagine God is saying that, "What would you like for me to do for you?" See, Elisha's answer reveals not only is he a faithful servant, but his heart is set on spiritual things. He saw the spirit and the power of Elijah and he said, "I want that. That's what I want. I want a life like that. I want to move in the power of the Holy Spirit. That's what I want." There is a deep thing. He said, "I want a double portion." See, this is such an important thing, to set your desires on spiritual things. The lesson then we have to play is in other words, don't set your heart on things of the earth.

Many people do, many people set their eyes, their desires, their dreams, their goals in life, their ambitions are all connected to earthly things. Many people have asked, "What would you like? What would be the fulfilment of your dream? What would it be?" Many people start relating earthly things as their answer. The apostle Paul wrote an interesting thing to his young son in the faith, Timothy, about a man who had really shipwrecked his life spiritually. Here's why, it says in 2 Timothy 4:10, "But Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me and he's deserted spiritual things."

In other words, why? Because he's loved this present world. Many people, what they dream of, their ambition, their desire, the great fulfilment of their great longing is found in earthly things but life does not consist of those things. "I want the greatest, I want a wonderful car, I want the wonderfulest house, I want the wonderfulest thing." Isn't that like wanting the best cabin on the Titanic?" At some point, having the best cabin on the Titanic is not going to do you very much good. Anybody agree with me? The desire will determine the outcome of your life.

   C.  Don’t set your heart on things of the earth

Where you set the desire of your heart will determine the outcome of your life. Notice what Paul wrote in Romans 8:5-6, "For those who are according to the flesh," now, see, that's an interesting phrase, "those who are according to the flesh." What does that mean? It means the bearing of their life is of the world. The bearing of their life, the real meat of the substance, of what they're after is of the world. He said, "Those who are according to the flesh, they set their mind on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit," they have their bearing, their desires, their priorities, the things that they longed for in life.

"Those who are according to the Spirit, they set their mind on the things of the Spirit. The mind that is set on the flesh is death," there's no life in those things, "but the mind that is set on the Spirit is life and peace." The peace of God that passes understanding, the beautiful aspect of having a relationship to God where your soul is filled and overflowing with the beautiful presence of God in your life. 2 Corinthians 4:18, "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." That's what gives meaning and purpose to life. Set your desires on things of the Spirit.

I remember when I was a young man, a pastor challenged me to really look at my life, and the story-- Many of you know my backstory. I found early success in life. I actually managed my first restaurant when I was 18. Actually, it fell to me because the manager walked out and said, "Okay, you're up, you're managing the restaurant." 18. Then I became a partner in a restaurant. I was part owner of a restaurant and manager when I was 23. This is very young. Then I had an opportunity to be a youth leader, which is an interesting thing itself.

Someone that was working for us at the restaurant came up to me and said, "Hey, you're good with these kids." We had a lot of teens working for us, bussers and dishwashers. "You're pretty good with these kids. We need a youth leader at church." I thought, "Yes." See, the reason I thought yes is because when I first came to the Lord, I was 11. It was such a very dramatic thing for me. It was extremely impactful.

Back in those days when I came to the Lord, we're just a small church, maybe I don't know, 25, 30 people. The pastor had me come forward and then he had everyone in the church come up and greet me. I remember this line of people coming up and hugging me and everything. I remember my mom was in the line and that when she came up to me, her face was just wet with tears and it just touched me so deeply that it meant that much to her, and the whole thing just impacted me greatly.

Immediately after, I thought I felt that I ought to be a pastor. Now, I immediately dismissed it because I figured well, everyone thinks that. Coming to faith in Christ is so dramatic for everyone that everybody thinks that, so I dismissed it, but it was always there in the back of my mind or my heart, you might say. Now, I'm a part owner of a restaurant and someone says, "You ought to be a youth leader."

There was that thing in the back of my mind. Yes, so I went to talk to the pastor and next thing you know, I'm the youth leader. I had never taught a Bible lesson in my life, but I'm this youth leader and I'm going to step up to this thing, so I'm studying and teaching, and we did really well. The youth group really grew and it was a tremendous time in my life, but then I got really, really busy.

I had a worship band, which I will tell you was not good at all, and I was youth leader, and I was the manager and part owner of the restaurant, and then I got engaged to be married. I got like, I'm busy, I got way too many things going on in my life, so I went to the pastor and I said, "Hey, I'm sorry, but I need to quit. I need to resign as youth leader." He said, "Well, why?" "I got too many things going on in my life. I'm being in this and that. I can't do everything, I got to quit." Then he challenged me and he said, "When you get to the end of your life and you look back, do you want to say that you made a lot of money or that you made an impact on people's lives?"

"Well, if it comes to that, I want to make a difference in this world. I want to make a difference in people's lives. If I have the opportunity, that's what I want to do." He said, "Well then, why don't you quit your job and go into ministry?" I did and we made a whole lot less, but we were young and we were married and when you're young and in love, you don't need money. Amen? [laughs] At least that's what I thought.

The thing is, I wanted to make a difference because you know the old saying, "You can't take it with you"? I suggest you that's not 100% true. There are some things you can take with you. Namely, relationships, people matter, souls are eternal, souls matter. To make a difference in this world means that there is a bearing that you have touched a life. That's storing up treasures in heaven.

Jesus said this in Matthew 6. "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy, where thieves do not break in and steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Where's your desire? What is it you want? What is it you long for?

II.  Desire the Spirit and Power of Elijah

That brings us to 2 King 2. Desire the spirit and power of Elijah. What is it you want? What is it you desire? Desire this, the spirit and power of Elijah leads to the question. Well, what is the spirit of Elijah? It leads to the next question. Can we ask for the spirit of Elijah similarly today? Can we ask that? My answer to that would be not only can you ask, I would say, ask for a double portion.

  A.  Ask for a double portion

Now first, you need to know what it means to ask for a double portion. Elisha was not asking for the spirit of Elijah multiplied by two, he wasn't asking for twice as much as Elijah had, he was asking for an inheritance of which he would have the greater portion. This was the Jewish common tradition for the first and oldest son to have the double portion. Now I'll give it to you right out of Deuteronomy 21:17. Moses instructs Israel, "A father shall acknowledge the firstborn by giving him a double portion of all that he has for he is the beginning of his strength; to him belongs the right of the firstborn." That's why Elisha is asking, he calls him his spiritual father. I want the double, the greater portion.

The spirit of Elijah was the Spirit of the living God. Elijah had no power on his own. That's why the Scripture in James says Elijah was a man like you and me and he prayed and the heavens were shut for three and a half years. He prayed again and the heavens were opened up. He's a man like you and me. In other words, he had no power on his own at all. What he did, he did by the power of the Holy Spirit and I submit that it is the same Holy Spirit that is given to you and to me as a pledge of an inheritance.

Notice Ephesians 1:13-14, "You are sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who was given us as a pledge of our inheritance." What an interesting parallel. God wants you to ask. Can you ask for the spirit that was on Elijah? Yes, because it's the Holy Spirit of the living God and He wants you to ask. There's where life of God is found. There's where the power of God is found. Ask. He wants you to long for it. He wants you to desire it. He wants you to ask for it, and He gives this an illustration.

I mentioned this on Wednesday, it bears repeating at Luke 11, where Jesus says, now, suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish. He would not give him a snake instead of a fish, now would he? Or if the son asked his father for an egg, he wouldn't give his son scorpion, now would he? "If you, then," being of the world, he means, "If you, then, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask?" Luke 11:9-10, "So I say to you, ask." What a great word is this.

"So I say to you," this is Jesus saying, "I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; I say to you, seek, and you will find; I say to you, knock, and it will be open to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened." Ask. This is the context of that whole point. I want you to ask. I want you to seek. The spirit and power of Elijah has a purpose, and that purpose is this, to make ready a people for the Lord.

See, when you look at the spirit and power of Elijah, it should therefore bring you to the gospel of Luke. We read the account of it every year, Christmas, where Zachariah the priest was told that his barren wife, Elizabeth, would have a son, but notice what is said about this son. Luke 1:13-17, "You will give him the name John. You will have joy and gladness, many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord."

See, when you are moving in the things of the Lord and you have asked for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on your life, and there's a bearing of the Spirit, this God sees. "He will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor. He will take the vow of the Nazier wholly devoted to the Lord and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother's womb."

      B.  Make ready a people for the Lord

Notice this. "He will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah." You should read Malachi in this, "to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." I submit to you that that is exactly what God is doing today. He is making a people ready, making a people, preparing a people by bringing his Spirit upon the church, by bringing a revival, by bringing a sense of spiritual urgency.

Now, interestingly, John the baptizer did not do miracles. That's not required for the spirit and power of Elijah. What he did do was to call people to repentance with a boldness and a strength. He made ready a people prepared for the Lord. It's also important to see that though Elijah was at that lowest point of despondency and despair, where he even wanted to have the Lord take his life, God did not rebuke him, did not reject him, but He restored him and built his life, and built his life, and built his life, and this day when he comes to the end, he walks into heaven, he is taken up into heaven as a hero, as a great man.

God is the one who transforms even the ones who have failed into men of great power. Didn't the disciples also have failures? How many times did Jesus say, "O ye of little faith"? But by them, He turned the world upside down. God does not give up. Ask, ask. What would you say if God said to you, "What would you have me do for you?" What would you say? What would you like for me to do for you? What is it you want? What is it you like? What is it you desire?

You say, "Well, but I've had some failures." Oh, God doesn't give up. You don't give up. God takes those who are of despair and despondency, who have failed, and builds and builds and brings that of the spiritual bearing of power in their life. If you walk with God in the course set before you, He will give you a beautiful life. Watch, wait, ask. What is it that you would have me do for you?

Father, thank you so much for revealing to us your heart, your desire. God, when we think about that question, it resonates in our heart and our soul. What would you have me do for you? What is it you want? What is the desire, the deepest longing of your heart? Church, how many today would say to the Lord, "My desire is you. I want those things of the Spirit that come from heaven. I want the very life of God. I want to move in that Spirit and that power in my life. I want there to be meaning, purpose, significance. That's what I'm asking for"?

Church, how many would say that to the Lord by just raising your hand? Just say it to the Lord by just raising your hand to the Lord. God, I just want to say that you are what I want. You are what I desire. Move in my life. God, we thank you for everyone who has moved in the Spirit to long for, set their mind and desire on the things of God. We honor you for it now, in Jesus' powerful name, and everyone said-- Can we give the--

 

1 Now it came about, when the Lord was about to bring Elijah up by a [a]whirlwind to heaven, that Elijah left Gilgal with Elisha. And Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here please, for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. Then the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel went out to Elisha and said to him, “Are you aware that the Lord will take away your master from over [b]you today?” And he said, “Yes, I am aware; say nothing about it.”

And Elijah said to him, “Elisha, please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As surely as the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. Then the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho approached Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over [c]you today?” And he [d]answered, “Yes, I know; say nothing about it.” And Elijah said to him, “Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As surely as the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on.

Now fifty men of the sons of the prophets went and stood opposite them at a distance, while the two of them stood by the Jordan. And Elijah took his coat, folded it, and struck the waters, and they were divided here and there, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground.

When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask me what I should do for you before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” 10 He said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.” 11 And as they were walking along and talking, behold, a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and they separated the two of them. Then Elijah went up by a [e]whirlwind to heaven. 12 And Elisha was watching it and he was crying out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” And he did not see [f]Elijah again. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. 13 He also took up the coat of Elijah that had fallen from him, and he went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan. 14 Then he took the coat of Elijah that had fallen from him and struck the waters, and said, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the waters, they were divided here and there; and Elisha crossed over.

15 Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho opposite him saw him, they said, “The spirit of Elijah has settled on Elisha.” And they came to meet him and bowed down to the ground before him.

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