The Appointment Elijah Did Not Keep (Part Three)

2 Kings 2:1-14

Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over (2:13-14 NIV).

Let us think on the hope of the believer. Elijah’s exit from earth is a reminder that there is life beyond the present world of our experience. How much of our lives is involved in the struggle to provide ourselves with food, clothing, shelter and security! How easy it is to become caught up in the pursuit of these things! So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them (Matthew 6:31-32 CSB).

Elijah’s visible transfer to glory by a whirlwind is a call for us to set our minds on things above. This life is not all. There is a heaven to gain and a hell to avoid! Let us then become heavenly-minded. Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:1-4 NIV).

Elijah’s exit from earth is a reminder that not all believers will die. We should be looking for the Lord Christ to return. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed (Titus 2:12-13 NLT). Though many saints have died already, some will be alive when Jesus comes again. The dead in Christ will rise to life and those still alive will be changed without dying. Both groups will enjoy the glory of the Lord together. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54.

Yet, at the same time, we must remember the continuing power of the living God. When people are facing cataract surgery, their surgeon might give them the option of correcting one eye for distance, and one eye for closeup. This avoids, at least for a time, the need to wear “drug store glasses” for reading. It is common as we age to think more about eternity than we did when we were young. Few can keep one eye on the future and another on the present. We all need to be heavenly-minded, as well as continuing to think about serving the Lord in our generation.

Elisha had made a request of Elijah before he was taken away. He asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Observe that Elisha asked before Elijah went to heaven. The Bible never once tells us to pray to departed saints. If you would ask the saints for anything, ask them while they set in worship and fellowship with you now. His request signified his desire for inheritance. The oldest son was to receive a double portion (Deuteronomy 21:17). The son in the ministry (Elisha) asked his father in the ministry (Elijah) for this inheritance. Elisha’s concern was to be equipped for ongoing usefulness. God answered this prayer.

Then came the great moment. Was God still able to act in human history? Too many people focus on God’s servant instead of God. They think that there is something special in the man. How they will become excited about a famous pastor or well-known Bible teacher! There is too much of a lust for superstars in our time. But what happens when the big man is gone? Elisha directed his attention in the right direction. There was no prayer for Elijah to help him. No, he called upon the LORD, the God of Elijah.

I have good news for you today. The LORD, the God of Elijah, is still in charge of all things today. Many good men have come and gone since the time of Elijah and Elisha: Peter and Paul, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Owen, Flavel, Bunyan, Whitefield, Edwards, Spurgeon and Lloyd-Jones to name only a few. But the living God still has all his power today.

You do not need to roll up your coats to strike a river, sons and daughters of God, but you should lift up holy hands in prayer. The Spirit of God lives within us, Christ our mediator sits at the right hand of the Father to intercede for us, and the Father loves us with an everlasting love. Up, up, let us rise and call upon the name of the living God. Let us trust him to work in our time, and let us praise his name!

Grace and peace, David

Blessing and Encouragement (Part One)

Genesis 48:8-22

It is remarkable that at the end of his life, Jacob became a prophet. He still had important work to do for the Lord. The latter days of God’s servants can be their best. Moses served the Lord constantly in the last third of his life. Don’t moan your way to glory. Trust God for grace and strength to glorify and to serve him until your last day.

In our text, we first see some common matters of life. When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, “Who are these?” “They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father. Then Israel said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.” Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them. Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.” (Genesis 48:8-11 NIV).

Jacob was blind because of his age. It is a weakness of our fallen race (Ecclesiastes 12:3). Everyone who lives by sight rather than by faith will eventually lose their guide. Old age has burdens along with its blessings. You can’t have one without the other. But you can rejoice in what the Lord does in your weakness (cf. Romans 8:26; 2 Corinthians 4:16-17). The eye of faith may be clear when the eye of the flesh is very cloudy. You can see the kingdom of God when you can’t see the kingdoms of this world. By faith like Abraham, look for the city that has foundations (Hebrews 11:10). This we ought to do, rather than groan about the weakness of our failing bodies.

Jacob was affectionate toward his grandsons. He thought he would never see Joseph again, but he had the joy of seeing Joseph’s sons. Older people often have a special affection for their grandchildren, perhaps even more than they had toward their children. Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers (Proverbs 17:6 ESV). In his providence, God often blesses his people beyond what they might expect. Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and incomprehensible things you do not know (Jeremiah 33:3 CSB). “God is much better to us than our fears; yea, far better than our hopes” (Spurgeon).

Jacob and Joseph acknowledged God’s providence in their lives. Joseph praised God for the children he gave him. Jacob rejoiced that he could see Joseph and his sons after years of thinking Joseph was dead and sons had never been born to him. Every good thing we enjoy is sweetened when we see that all comes from the hand of a loving Father. Here is the way for the godly to talk. Neither father nor son praised the false goddess Luck, but the true GOD. For what five blessings are you thankful to God right now?

Grace and peace, David