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May 25, 2016, 12:00 PM

The Mantle


- by Haley MaKenna Hardman

 

2 Kings 2:8-14 NKJV

 

  Now Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up, and struck the water; and it was divided this way and that, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground. And so it was, when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask! What may I do for you, before I am taken away from you?” Elisha said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” So he said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so. ” Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!” So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces. He also took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, “Where is the LORD God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over.

 

There is one word that I want to focus on here and you've probably gathered that from the title: mantle. Now, if you look up the definition of the word "mantle", you get two meanings;

1. A loose, sleeveless cloak or shawl…

2. An important role or responsibility that passes from one to another.

  Now, to understand the point that I'll eventually get to later, you have to understand how important Elijah's mantle was to Elisha... When Elijah initially took Elisha under his wing, he spoke no words. All he did was throw his cloak (or mantle) on Elisha's back and immediately Elisha knew. He knew that Elijah was going to be his mentor and he would have to leave his family (1 Kings 19:19-21). This cloak meant way more to him than just any other jacket. It represented what had become his life; his calling; his responsibility. Elisha knew that when Elijah left it was going to be hard for him, and he knew that he would need a double portion of the anointing that Elijah had to continue the responsibility that was placed on both of them by God. I believe that when Elisha went back to the Jordan after seeing his mentor be taken from him, he was tested...it was the test of all time for him. Maybe he was thinking, "Am I going to be able to do this? Can I be used by God just like Elijah was? Will the water part for me as it did for him?" I think that's why he cried out, "Where is the LORD God of Elijah?" He wanted to be used just like his master. In fact, I think he wanted to go even further than Elijah had.  But, he needed God to lead him and help him- I mean, there was no crossing the Jordan River without God's help, and Elisha knew it.

I can't help but think while I read this that maybe the disciples went through this same thought process when Jesus was taken up into heaven. They had spent three years with this dude learning, watching, and performing miracles with him by their side, and now...he was gone. He had told them time and time again that he was going to leave, and he had explained to them that they would do even greater things than he, but when the time came for Peter to step up and proclaim Jesus' name without him by his side for the first time, don't you think he thought, "Where is the LORD Jesus- the One that walked and talked with me for three years. Where is he now? I really, really need Him to be able to do this."

The fact is, in both of these situations, God was there and He used these people to do incredible things. Jesus said in Luke 9:23,

"If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me." (NLT)

Right before Jesus said this to a crowd, he told his disciples that he was going to suffer, be rejected, and then killed, but they shouldn't worry, because he would rise again on the third day (Luke 9:21-22). As he said this next thing to the crowd, I don't think that he meant to literally take up an old wooden cross every single day and carry it around. I think he was trying to explain to them-his disciples included- that there was a certain responsibility in following him, and he expected them to think about and act upon that responsibility daily whether he was around physically or not.

  What I'm trying to say is that the moment Elijah laid his mantle upon Elisha, Elisha knew that he had a responsibility to leave what he was doing right then and there, and follow this dude. Elijah literally laid his responsibilities on Elisha, and when Elijah was taken into heaven, Elisha still had to carry them out. Jesus did the same exact thing when he came to this earth. He laid his responsibilities of spreading his love- his light- to this broken world, on those that chose to follow him, and when he was taken up into heaven after rising on the third day and spending a few more days on this earth, the disciples still had to carry that out. Some failed, some went away sad, some didn't accept the call, but there was still a responsibility to be taken up and carried out by those who had a double portion of his Spirit.

  You see, there's another correlation here. Elisha knew that he was going to need a double portion of Elijah's spirit in order to carry out the responsibilities they had, and he was given exactly that. Jesus explained to his disciples in John 14:12-19 that anyone who believed in him, would do the things that he did and even greater because he was going to ask the Father to send them another Advocate called the Holy Spirit, and He would live inside of them and lead them into all truth. When Jesus left this earth, he didn't leave us alone, he sent us the Holy Spirit so that those who believe in Him could continue doing what He did on this earth, and even greater. Did you catch the even greater part?

  So, to those who believe in Jesus, you have a responsibility. You have a responsibility to be the light in this dark world (Matthew 5:14-16). To share the love that Jesus shared with us. To use the gifts that God has given you to glorify Him. Maybe you're thinking exactly what Elisha thought right before God split the Jordan River through him: "Where is the LORD...?" I'm writing this to tell you that the Holy Spirit is here to meet with you right where you are. He is here to comfort you, guide you, lead you into all truth, and take you deeper into a relationship with Him than your feet could ever wander. And when you're in a relationship with the God of the universe, there is nothing that He can't do through you. So, the question is not, "Where is the Lord?" The question is, "Where are you?"

  I guess the next question I should ask you is: are you really taking up the mantle that has been placed upon you? Or are you simply content with watching the world burn while you do nothing about it?

 

- Haley


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