The First Meeting
It is a scene played out somewhere in this agricultural land. A tanned, muscular young man, is plowing a field, just one of many laborers that day. Suddenly he stops to remove an obstacle. He notices a man walking towards him.
The fierce looking man is wearing a simple skin to cover his loins and around his shoulders is a sheepskin cape. His hair and beard are dark and kinky with more strands of gray than black. His exposed skin is severely weathered. His eyes have a penetrating quality. The young man places his right hand on his sword.
Young Man: “Who are you? What do you want?”
Wild Man: “I am Elijah, the prophet of the Lord. Are you Elisha?
Elisha: “I am”
Elijah: “The Lord calls you to prophesy in his name.”
Elisha: “Me? Are you kidding? I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet. I am a farmer’s son.”
Elijah does not answer him. Instead he bends down and lifts the cape up from his shoulders and over his head displacing a massive mane of hair. He stands upright, brings the ends together, kisses it, and then swings it around Elisha’s shoulders. The smell of the wild man nauseates him, but he does not back away.
Elisha: “Pray, Father, why have you done this? Why has the Lord sent you to me? Surely, I cannot be the one God has chosen. I must go and talk to my father of this matter. Please come with me to our house and stay so we may talk further.”
Elijah: “Unnecessary. It is the Lord who chose you, not me. But by this mantle I have adopted you as my own. Come with me now and learn how to be listen for the voice of God.”
Elisha: “But let me at least go and kiss my mother and father good-bye.”
Elijah: “Alright, but don’t forget what I just did to you. You are now the prophet of the Lord.”
Elisha takes the long walk back home, tells his parents, and walks obediently with Elijah.
The two men having grown used to one another are walking along one day on the road from Gilgal when Elisha hears disturbing news “your master will be taken from you today.” He shivers. As they walk, they talk:
Elisha: “Father, I hear that you will leave me today. This cannot be true?”
Elijah: “You are ready my son. Now I must make way for you.
A heavy silence descends.
Elijah: “Ask, what is it I can give you before I leave then.”
Elisha: “Father, please let there be a double portion of your spirit that remains with me after you’ve gone.”
Elijah: “You have asked a hard thing, my son. When I leave, if you see me going away from you, then you can know that God has granted your request.
They sit together on a nearby rock, Elijah puts his arm around Elisha’s shoulders. He sees something and rises with wobbly legs while Elisha helps him. It’s a fiery chariot. Elisha helps and then holds his hand, but the chariot takes Elijah from his grasp.
Elisha cries out: “My father. My father.”
A fiery flame breaks off the chariot and lightly wraps itself around Elisha’s shoulders, extinguishes itself and the warmth travels down to his feet. In the chariot racing through the skies, Elijah does not look back, but a feeling of satisfaction comes over him as he rises higher and higher and higher to the God he had served all his life.
Elisha faithfully served as the prophet in Israel for 50 years. His style was different from Elijah. Where Elijah was confrontational, Elisha was more a pastor to the people. Both men, so different served God in their own way.