2 Kings 2:1 – Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal.
In the old western movies, it was common that the movie would end with the hero riding off into the sunset. This theme was so common that the idiom “ride off into the sunset” has become a well-known metaphor for a peaceful and restful future following a life lived battling against evil doers. In many westerns, the closing scene was the good guy wearing a white cowboy hat as he rode into the sunset. In this final scene of Elijah’s earthly life, we do not know if he was wearing a white cowboy hat, but we do know that the Lord sent a horse for him to ride off into the sunset.
God’s prophets had been told by revelation that the time had come for their fearless leader, the mountain man Elijah, to be taken to Heaven without tasting death. This had happened only once prior with Enoch. Genesis 5:24 (cf. Hebrews 11:5) says, “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.”
For the latter portion of his ministry, Elijah was blessed to have Elisha with him as a faithful friend and trustworthy assistant. The relationship between these men was like father and son. In fact, Elisha refers to him in this scene as “my father”.
We all have physical fathers. This is the man with whom we share a genetic physical connection and general longing to have a relationship with and loving help from. We also have spiritual fathers. These are Christian leaders whom we share a spiritual connection with. In addition to physical parents, the Bible teaches that we also have spiritual parents. This is the heart of spiritual fathering and the kind of relationship that Elijah had with Elisha.
Once Elijah is taken to Heaven, Elisha faithfully carries forth the message and mission of spiritual father. Today, in business or ministry leadership, we would call this succession. The insight is that the best successor to a godly leader is someone who sees the previous leader as their father and learns from them to continue their work in new ways.
Having studied the life of Elijah, what would be the top one or two things that the Holy Spirit has highlighted for you to learn from?
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