Life is always testing us.  Do you remember a silly song that claimed that “school’s out forever”?  It’s just getting started kid!  I went on to college, army, and computer drafting classes.  Later I graduated from a truck driving school.  The internet provides continuing education and new discoveries every day.  But one test is the ultimate goal of this life; the entrance exam to eternal life.

Elijah was a mentor, a teacher of that spiritual knowledge.  Elisha was chosen to replace Elijah, and that time is drawing near.  There is a little testing still to be done along the way.

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.  2 Kings 2:1-4

The whole world seems to know that Elijah will go with the Lord today.  We see right off that a whirlwind (a tornado?) is his intended exit path.  The prophets seem distressed at this prospect, and offer a warning. 

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.  2 Kings 2:5-8

Elisha has no intention of missing his blessing though, and will not leave.  In the New Testament the prophets tried to warn Paul away from his destiny too.  The man of God is not afraid to walk the path that God has for him though. 

And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus.  And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.  And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem.  Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.  Acts 21:10-13

Elijah sees that Elisha will continue on the path, and asks what he wants to receive from God.

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.  2 Kings 2:9-12

It is hard for man to deliver this promise, but God can do this.  Elijah assures Elijah that there is a possibility.  Indeed the event of his departure is seen by Elisha, and he is duly impressed.  This was a stunning visual event, and Elisha is emboldened to believe God for his blessing.

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 2:13-15

The people of God know the anointing, and recognize it on Elisha.  They think they need to help if Elijah did not go up.  They speculate that God may have dropped Elijah’s body back to earth. 

And they said unto him, Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master: lest peradventure the Spirit of the LORD hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send.  And when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not.  And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho,) he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not?  2 Kings 2:16-18

If Elisha was shamed, these men are more so for believing that God might have let Elijah fall.  They see dry places where God will have living water.

And the men of the city said unto Elisha, Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water is naught, and the ground barren.  And he said, Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein. And they brought it to him.  And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the LORD, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land.  So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake.  2 Kings 2:19-22

There are believers who are still only part way along in their faith lessons.  Elisha’s bold example serves to encourage their hope until their experience keeps them on the path of faith.  This life is an entrance exam for the next life, and we build towards that final exam.  As Elijah mentored Elisha, He now demonstrates the power of faith for those prophets to build on.  He displays the power that is available in God, and the fear of God will manifest in his life.

And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.  And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.  And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria.  2 Kings 2:23-25

The idea that God would kill innocent children seems shocking.  But these children showed disrespect to the prophet that the prophets themselves revered.  They were determined to be not innocent, but guilty of irreverence to the man and to his God.  The cruelty of children would probably only have matured into real evil as the adults of the land were already demonstrating.  The sins of the fathers were cascading downhill through their generations. 

Those who missed the lessons of Jesus will have a makeup exam.  The people of the Old Testament will be visited by Yeshua after his crucifixion, and he will offer salvation to those who will believe in him at that time.  So don’t get too grieved over apparent failures for this class.  This is not their final exam yet, and Israel will have a few good days before then.  Elisha will be able to be their mentor along the way.