Elijah Bible Study # 5
1 Kings 19:15-2 Kings 2:14
1 Kings 19:15 The Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus, and when you have arrived, you shall anoint Hazael king over Aram; 16 and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. 17 It shall come about, the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall put to death. 18 Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
19 So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, while he was plowing with twelve pairs of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth. And Elijah passed over to him and threw his mantle on him. 20 He left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Please let me kiss my father and my mother, then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” 21 So he returned from following him, and took the pair of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the implements of the oxen, and gave it to the people and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah and ministered to him.
1 Kings 21:21 Now it came about after these things that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard which was in Jezreel beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2 Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden because it is close beside my house, and I will give you a better vineyard than it in its place; if you like, I will give you the price of it in money.” 3 But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid me that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” 4 So Ahab came into his house sullen and vexed because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him; for he said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and ate no food.
5 But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, “How is it that your spirit is so sullen that you are not eating food?” 6 So he said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if it pleases you, I will give you a vineyard in its place.’ But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’” 7 Jezebel his wife said to him, “Do you now reign over Israel? Arise, eat bread, and let your heart be joyful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”
8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and sent letters to the elders and to the nobles who were living with Naboth in his city. 9 Now she wrote in the letters, saying, “Proclaim a fast and seat Naboth at the head of the people; 10 and seat two worthless men before him, and let them testify against him, saying, ‘You cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.”
11 So the men of his city, the elders and the nobles who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them, just as it was written in the letters which she had sent them. 12 They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth at the head of the people. 13 Then the two worthless men came in and sat before him; and the worthless men testified against him, even against Naboth, before the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death with stones. 14 Then they sent word to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned and is dead.”
15 When Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth, the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” 16 When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab arose to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.
17 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 18 “Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who is in Samaria; behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth where he has gone down to take possession of it. 19 You shall speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Have you murdered and also taken possession?”’ And you shall speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, “In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth the dogs will lick up your blood, even yours.”’”
20 Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” And he answered, “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord. 21 Behold, I will bring evil upon you, and will utterly sweep you away, and will cut off from Ahab every male, both bond and free in Israel; 22 and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, because of the provocation with which you have provoked Me to anger, and because you have made Israel sin. 23 Of Jezebel also has the Lord spoken, saying, ‘The dogs will eat Jezebel in the district of Jezreel.’ 24 The one belonging to Ahab, who dies in the city, the dogs will eat, and the one who dies in the field the birds of heaven will eat.”
25 Surely there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do evil in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife incited him. 26 He acted very abominably in following idols, according to all that the Amorites had done, whom the Lord cast out before the sons of Israel.
27 It came about when Ahab heard these words, that he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and fasted, and he lay in sackcloth and went about despondently. 28 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 29 “Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days, but I will bring the evil upon his house in his son’s days.”
2 Kings 1:1 Now Moab rebelled against Israel after the death of Ahab. 2 And Ahaziah fell through the lattice in his upper chamber which was in Samaria, and became ill. So he sent messengers and said to them, “Go, inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I will recover from this sickness.” 3 But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria and say to them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron?’ 4 Now therefore thus says the Lord, ‘You shall not come down from the bed where you have gone up, but you shall surely die.’” Then Elijah departed.
5 When the messengers returned to him he said to them, “Why have you returned?” 6 They said to him, “A man came up to meet us and said to us, ‘Go, return to the king who sent you and say to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are sending to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Therefore you shall not come down from the bed where you have gone up, but shall surely die.’”’” 7 He said to them, “What kind of man was he who came up to meet you and spoke these words to you?” 8 They answered him, “He was a hairy man with a leather girdle bound about his loins.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”
9 Then the king sent to him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him, and behold, he was sitting on the top of the hill. And he said to him, “O man of God, the king says, ‘Come down.’” 10 Elijah replied to the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.
11 So he again sent to him another captain of fifty with his fifty. And he said to him, “O man of God, thus says the king, ‘Come down quickly.’” 12 Elijah replied to them, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.
13 So he again sent the captain of a third fifty with his fifty. When the third captain of fifty went up, he came and bowed down on his knees before Elijah, and begged him and said to him, “O man of God, please let my life and the lives of these fifty servants of yours be precious in your sight. 14 Behold fire came down from heaven and consumed the first two captains of fifty with their fifties; but now let my life be precious in your sight.” 15 The angel of the Lord said to Elijah, “Go down with him; do not be afraid of him.” So he arose and went down with him to the king. 16 Then he said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron—is it because there is no God in Israel to inquire of His word?—therefore you shall not come down from the bed where you have gone up, but shall surely die.’”
Jehoram Reigns over Israel
17 So Ahaziah died according to the word of the Lord which Elijah had spoken. And because he had no son, Jehoram became king in his place in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. 18 Now the rest of the acts of Ahaziah which he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?
2 Kings 2:1 And it came about when the Lord was about to take up Elijah by a [a]whirlwind to heaven, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here please, for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. 3 Then the sons of the prophets who were at Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?” And he said, “Yes, I know; be still.”
4 Elijah said to him, “Elisha, please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they came to Jericho. 5 The sons of the prophets who were at Jericho approached Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?” And he answered, “Yes, I know; be still.” 6 Then Elijah said to him, “Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” And he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on.
7 Now fifty men of the sons of the prophets went and stood opposite them at a distance, while the two of them stood by the Jordan. 8 Elijah took his mantle and folded it together and struck the waters, and they were divided here and there, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground.
9 When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” 10 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.” 11 As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven. 12 Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw Elijah no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. 13 He also took up the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and returned and stood by the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and struck the waters and said, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the waters, they were divided here and there; and Elisha crossed over.
First as a follow up to the last study, God seemed to reveal a part of the meaning of what took place when He put Elijah in the cleft of the rock.
Jesus has taken the tornado wind, and the earthquake and the fire, while we were in the cleft of the rock, also Jesus, until He comes and speaks to us in a voice that we can receive, Jesus Again!
Should have known the answer would be Jesus!
God shows us Elijah’s faults so that we can clearly see that the strongest characters are weak as water the moment He withdraws His upholding hand.
Elijah had just repeated his excuse for being on Mount Horeb, and God decides to move on. He gives Elijah a job to do and speaks to him of a chosen successor. Most people recognize that the way out of depression is to have a purpose and a goal a “job to do.” God recovers us, reclaims us, and raises us back up. God was saying, “Yes you are zealous for My name and My cause, but I am far more zealous than you could ever be.” God commands, Elijah responds and all is right with the relationship again.
In the midst of this degenerate and idolatrous kingdom ruled by vicious, cruel, and degenerate kings, the Lord called two men, one the successor of the other. These two prophets stood as the heralds of God and His Word. They were also leaders for a school of prophets who actually served in both the northern and southern kingdoms.
Elijah’s ministry does not end with the call of Elisha who became Elijah’s attendant and student. Instead, it continued for several years as the mentor of Elisha. After his renewal by the Lord on Mount Horeb, Elijah began a ministry of mentoring or discipling Elisha. Mentoring others is one of the most important ministries any of us can have, especially leaders, but one that should not be limited to leaders.
Elisha had developed biblical values, priorities and eternal perspectives that had captured his heart which then controlled what he did with his life. As a result, he acted on his faith by following God’s call. He was willing to be uprooted from his quiet, peaceful, and rural life with its financial security to follow the Lord. Obviously he knew what his nation needed was the Word of the Lord. Like the sons of Issachar, he understood the times and knew what he must do
We skip a section of 1 Kings that does not have Elijah in it. God seems to be keeping Ahab occupied with wars, so that Elijah has peace and time to establish the ‘schools of the prophets.' Ahab is allowed to have military victories and ‘lesser prophets’ prophesy about these days, but when it comes time to deal with Ahab’s heart, God calls on Elijah. This demonstrates that our heart is more important to God than our outward successes.
Elijah allowed Elisha’s request. He said, “Go back again . . .” Then he added a word of caution and said, “for what have I done to you?” This statement seems to be an idiom that sounds rather abrupt or even meaningless to us. According to the idiom, we might translate it something like, “go back and bid farewell, for I have done something very important to you, but think carefully on what I have done to you, for your call is not from me, but from God!” The idea is that Elisha was accountable to God for what he did, not to Elijah. This was God’s call, not Elijah’s. What Elijah had done was to express God’s call. Elijah would become Elisha’s spiritual leader and mentor, but Elisha must understand that ultimately, he was accountable to God, not to a man.
It seems to me there is an important principle here. One of the goals of leadership, as with parenthood, is to help people learn to become accountable to God (Heb. 13:17).
Naboth’s vineyard. Those addicted to wealth are never satisfied with what they have. Leviticus 25:23 was the command that Naboth refused the king with. He was not being insolent to the king, he was obeying God. Instead of seeing this as a good thing Ahab became sullen and hurt by this obedience. Jezebel, like Satan, was right there to take advantage, but Ahab is held accountable for his “non-actions.” The call for a fast shows that evil can and is done under the cloak of a religious event. Jezebel’s scheme was allowed to come to fruition and to cost Naboth his life. Then Elijah is sent in to reveal the heart of Ahab. Elisha goes along for His very first ministry trip, wow! Ahab is warned of a sure and fast approaching day when the judgment of God will fall on Him. “Hast thou found me?” The guilt in the heart is just looking in the rear-view mirror, waiting for the day when the cops will come and you will be arrested for speeding. Israel’s kings were permitted to have their whole lines wiped out all their children. Judah’s kings were not so, because Jesus was to be a descendant of David. Even Ahab’s heart could be softened and in spite of the fact that Jezebel probably mocked him constantly, he had a conversion experience that the Lord recognized. When any behave ill toward us it should make us examine our conduct toward the Lord Our God. God could be using them to punish us. The downfall of a society is due to the church’s lack of being salt and light, the salvation of a nation is in the hands of the church not the politicians.
Ahaziah’s sickness. No inquiry was made of God as to the cause and worse yet he was about to consult with the false, defeated god. Fortune tellers, astrology, ouijia boards, all lies, all idols, that we need to repent of ever consulting. The cost for Ahaziah, the death sentence. Hearing this Ahaziah was not convicted, did not turn to God, no, he focused on Elijah. Ahaziah was offended and wanted to have a ‘talk’ with Elijah.
The way to prevail with God is to bow before Him. Ahaziah and the captains were about to learn this. Twice Elijah is approached as if the demon god loving King had a greater authority than the prophet of God. Twice the captain and their 50 are burnt up by ‘fire from God.’ Give credit to the third captain, he saw with spiritual eyes what was happening and he went humbly and God granted his request.
In verse 9 we are told that immediately following the crossing of the Jordan, Elijah poses a very simple question. It is a question with tremendous ramifications on the life of any believer in Christ. He said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.” Please note the timing of this. Elijah waited until after they had crossed over the Jordan, after this great display of the power and provision of God. Why? What can we learn from this?
(1) I think it teaches us the principle of timing and discernment. We need to discern the right time to witness, confront, challenge, or even to encourage. Sometimes it is just not the right time and our tendency is to speak when we should be quiet, and to be silent when we should speak. “A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together; A time to be silent, and a time to speak” (Eccl. 3:7). “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances” (Prov. 25:11). “A man has joy in an apt answer, And how delightful is a timely word” (Prov. 11:23).
(2) This also teaches us that a great time to challenge believers to action is when they have just witnessed the blessing of God and are encouraged by the Lord through His Word or through what He has been doing in their lives.
Primarily, this question was a test. The Lord, if you recall, asked Solomon a similar question at the beginning of his ministry and work as king.
Why ask such a question? Because our desires and requests show the condition of our hearts. It shows just how ready we are for ministry, responsibility, and sacrifice. It shows if our treasure is primarily here on earth or in heaven. It shows if we really see heaven as home or whether we are trying to make this fallen world our heavenly home. It shows if we are ready to be a servant or still want to be served.
Scripture has a lot to say about man’s longings, though the word used in our translations is usually the word “lust.” Basically, lust is the strong desire for something caused by longing for satisfaction, security, significance, etc., apart from dependence on God and His righteous plan for one’s life.
Elijah’s Response (vs. 10)
Elijah’s answer is given in verse 10. Knowing that he was only an instrument and that such things are in God’s sovereign control, he said, “You have asked a hard thing.” This could mean “this isn’t mine to give. Only God can give it.” Elijah, however, knew Elisha was to be his replacement (1 Kings 19:16). That’s what he had been grooming him for over these several years. It is possible that Elijah is saying “that which you have asked will mean a hard life,” a life with trials, persecution, and great responsibility.
Whatever the case, a condition was attached which would manifest God’s will regarding such a request--the condition of seeing Elijah translated. This would manifest the will of God, demonstrate Elisha’s determination, and show that Elisha, as the witness of this dramatic event, would also be the prophet’s successor.
This is the way the Lord works; it’s the way life is. We are never ready to lose a loved one, a good friend or teacher. There is always more to say, more to teach and learn, more times we would like to enjoy together. But God, who alone is the indispensable one, suddenly breaks into our lives and takes our friend or loved one home to be with Him or moves them somewhere else. This hurts and causes pain for us, but it should never neutralize us. Rather, it should thrust us in another direction or into a new responsibility while trusting in the Lord and moving out for God. Life must go on. We must pick up the baton and keep moving toward the goal. Often it is a new goal God has set before us.
Please note that the prophet was not taken to heaven in a fiery chariot. He was taken up in a whirlwind. The chariot and horses of fire were manifestations of God’s divine presence or a manifestation of His angelic forces who came to get Elijah and accompany Him to heaven. The same is undoubtedly true for us in death. Elijah, like Enoch, was translated without seeing death. He was taken up into heaven which represents the paradise of God. He was removed from the pain of this fallen world into the bliss and joy of paradise.
It is right here that we have one of the most important principles of the Christian life. It is a principle that was surely a dominating, driving, life-changing force in the lives of these two prophets--the hope of heaven and eternity and all that it holds. Our ability to live godly lives, to serve God rather than self, to forgive and love others, and find real peace and stability is directly proportionate to the degree that the glories of heaven grip our souls and become the motive and anchor of our lives. (much of this from J. Hampton Keathley III)