This will be my final study in the life of Elijah; Prophet of fire. It almost seems that this great prophet of God has arisen by the hand of God, the calling of God; out of the ranks of the unknown of people. Now every Jewish, and Christian individual who knows the Old Testament or the New Testament has heard of Elijah.
He has challenged the prophets of Baal; liars, deceivers, cheats and thieves; leading the people of Israel away from YHWH, and toward destruction. Of course, if people are deceived, it is usually by their own choosing, and willingness to follow what they want and choose to hear.
Ahab practically called Elijah the “Troubler of Israel” (1 Kings 18:17-18), when was the weak, spineless, spiritually bankrupt king of Israel who was troubling Israel; as Elijah said it.
Now, I want us to turn our attention toward the final day in the life of this prophet of fire. It is no wonder to call him that. It was a challenge of fire that Elijah challenged the prophets of the false gods. It was with fire that God heard Elijah’s prayer, and answered by fire; and as we shall see Elijah was called into the presence of the LORD by fire. WOW!
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 to day?’ 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, and 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 to day?’ 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.” 2 Kings 2:1-15 (KJV)
Our view of Scripture from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22 will help us determine a Biblical understanding of what happened to Elijah. If we do not believe the Genesis account of Scripture and merely give it a nod as Scripture, but leaves much unsaid, then we may do the same with the rest of Scripture. Merely giving it a nod without viewing it as without error and God-breathed we could explain all of Scriptural miracles as myth, allegory, or just a fine story.
However, if we acknowledge the truth of Genesis 1 through 11, and Genesis 12 through Revelation 22 as well, then we must see the previous miraculous events as well as that of Elijah’s being caught up in the chariot of fire as actual events, which happened just as God describes them in His Word.
Elijah has obeyed the LORD, by anointing a new king for Israel, and by anointing the new prophet in his stead (Elisha), following his run-in with Jezebel. We are not told how much time as elapsed between these two events – the challenge to the prophets of Baal, and the chariot of fire. However, it has been enough time for Elijah to give Elisha some training, and prepare him for his own journey with the LORD.
Let us take a few moments and think about this Chariot of Fire.
First of all it was the means by which God took Elijah out of this world. Second, it was the means by which Elisha was initiated into the prophets ministry, and prepared him for a life of faith. Third, it put the other prophets on notice that Elisha had the Spirit which was upon Elijah upon him.
This was an expected event. Elijah knew the event was about to happen; Elisha knew the event was about to happen; and the other prophets were were watching knew it was going to happen. They asked Elisha, “Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head today?” They asked him two times. Elisha wanted to be there when it happened. I say, “Who would not have wanted to be with him?”
Was Elijah’s being taken a punishment for his run from Jezebel? In no way. It was more a reward for his faithful service. Now he would be in the presence of the Lord, and without having experienced death. We can be fairly well assured that Elijah’s body was changed in the process of this great event.
There is coming a great event for the faithful Christian. A day when our bodies will be changed “In a moment; in the twinkling of an eye…We shall be changed.” Read 1 Corinthians 15:51-58.
Jesus was raised to life following the crucifixion, and burial with a new body, and forty days later ascended up into heaven to be forever with His Father.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and your house, and you will be saved.
-Tim A. Blankenship