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Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Last Journey of Elijah with Elisha

2 Kings 2:1-15

"And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. And Elijah said unto Elisha, "Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel."  And Elisha said unto him, "As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee." So they went down to Bethel. And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, "Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head today?" And he said, "Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace." And Elijah said unto him, "Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Jericho." And he said, "As the Lord liveth, ans as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee." So they came to Jericho. And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, "Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head today?" And he answered, "Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace." And Elijah said unto him, "Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the Lord hath sent me to Jordan." And he said, "As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee." And they two went on. And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan. And Elijah 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. And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, "Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee." And Elisha said, "I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me." And he said, "Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so." And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof." And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces. He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; and he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over. And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, "The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha." And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him."

In his meditation we have before us Elijah's last journey in company with Elisha, on the eve of Elijah's being raptured to heaven. We have seen that the keynote of Elijah's life is found in the words with which he twice made reply to the Lord: "I have been very jealous for the Lord ..." His whole life is packed into what is represented by those words. We have also noted what jealousy for the Lord means, and to what it leads.

Heavenly fullness was reached personally by Elijah when he went up by a whirlwind into heaven, and was the glorious crown of a life poured out for the interests of the Lord, with the one consuming purpose that God should have His full place among His people, and have all His rights in them secured to Him. Elijah was the man who set aside all personal interests in order that this object might be attained and the Lord's people might stand as a testimony in the earth and the universe to the fact that God has that in which He enjoys His full rights. To that Elijah gave himself to the full, and that was the fire which burned in his bones, the fire of a great jealously for God. That issued in his reaching heavenly fullness.

The Testimony to be Established in This World

But, as we have indicated, that testimony was to be carried on in the world, and so Elisha was brought into relationship with Elijah before the latter's translation, and was to be the expression here of what Elijah was in heaven. Elijah had gone into heavenly fullness on the ground of having secured the Lord's rights among His people. Thus there was in heaven a man who had reached heavenly fullness on that ground, but there was to be in the earth the expression, not of what Elijah was before he went up, but of what Elijah was after he had gone; an expression here of heavenly fullness on the ground of the Lord having had His rights secured to Him fully and utterly in the midst of His people, as is set forth for us in the Carmel crisis of the life and ministry of Elijah.

Accordingly we find that Elisha was the instrument of that heavenly fullness, and wherever he went, and in connection with everything with which he had to do, heavenly fullness came in. We are not engaged with the life of Elisha at this time, though we make reference to it. We are considering the basis of that heavenly fullness which is but a type and an illustration of what obtains now in this present dispensation. The Lord Jesus is the counterpart or Anti-type of Elijah. He came to secure the rights of God in His universe. He fought the battle for the rights of God, and fought it though to a final issue. As Elijah fought to an issue at the altar of Carmel, so Christ fought this battle out to an issue on the Cross of Calvary, and having thus settled once for all the question of God's rights, having brought that issue to perfection, He went up into heavenly fullness, He was received up into glory.

Further, there was also to be a counterpart of Elisha, and that counterpart is seen, or was intended to be seen, here on earth in the Body of Christ, the Church. The Church is intended to be an expression of heavenly fullness on earth. So many are looking for the day when we shall get to heaven and enjoy heavenly fullness. The Lord's thought is that we should know something of it now, that it should be expresses here on the earth as a testimony to the Man in the glory. That constitutes His present manifestation in this world. That is the Lord's desire. Heavenly fullness can be known in measure, and in large measure, here on this earth, but it can only be known and expressed on the same ground as that upon which Elisha stood, the ground where God has had all His rights secured to Him through His interests being served, and through His people giving Him His full place. In this chapter, therefore, which embraces the period between the end of Elijah's earthly life and the beginning of Elisha's ministry, we are shown in a typical or an illustrative way what is meant when we speak of God having His rights secured, and how this leads to heavenly fullness.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 1 - "The Path to Fullness")

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