This morning, we’re continuing our new message series entitled, “Family of Prophets.” We’re rediscovering our identity as a church family this year and this group of individuals are an awesome example to learn from.
Family is a group of people who genuinely love, trust, care for, and look out for each other.
Take a moment and think about one of the best memories in your life; a time when you can’t imagine being any more excited to be alive, a day that puts a smile on your face every time.
Now take a moment and think about one of the most painful and hurtful times that you’ve experienced. One that grips your heart and takes your breath away even now.
Chances are, both of those memories were experienced in the context of family.
With family, we experience life’s highs and also life’s lows. We celebrate together our victories and we cry together through our losses. We build each other up; experiencing the fullness and abundance of life and, unfortunately, we can also tear each other down and cut each other to the core.
In Ecclesiastes chapter 3, Solomon reminds us that there is a time and a season for everything here under heaven.
We all have our favorite times and seasons that we’d just like to stay in. Some of us would spend the whole day snuggled up in bed under the warm blankets if we could. Some would live the beach life under the late summer sun watching the tide come and go all day. Some would keep their children as babies making their cute, cooing sounds with big smiles on their faces for years.
However, God has a purpose for every time and every season here on the earth. He has a plan through birth and death, through planting and harvesting, through killing and healing, through tearing down and building up, through mourning and dancing, through keeping and throwing away, through love and hate, through war and peace. Through every time and season here on the earth, God’s plans and purposes are fulfilled.
Although not every time and not every season are pleasant to us nor do we prefer every one that we endure, we can trust God that His plans for us are to give us hope and a future, not to harm us. Through the challenging seasons of life, this gives us the strength and endurance to persevere through them and become better people as a result.
In fact, God has given us family to be there for us to help support and guide us through the difficult seasons of life. Though we go through the seasons, we should do exactly that; go through them! Those dark valleys are not our destiny, that’s not where our story has to end! There is hope!
This morning, we turn to the family of prophets once again. For those not familiar with these two men, Elijah and Elisha, they were two of the greatest prophets next to Moses.
The miracles that Jesus performed, they had already performed centuries beforehand. Long before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit within God’s people, they walked in the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit on them. In fact, many believed that Jesus was Elijah.
They walked closely with God, so closely that Elijah was about to be taken home without ever experiencing death and Elisha was about to receive a double portion of the Spirit that Elijah had! However, they were still men and they still experienced painful seasons of life. Today, we turn to such a season. Hang in there, through, we’re also going to walk with them not just to that season, but through that season!
2 Kings 2: 1-18
1 When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to Bethel. ”
But Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.
Elisha was about to lose his best friend, a family member not of blood, but of choice. In fact, Elisha was so close to Elijah that he considered him to be a spiritual father to him. They both knew that God was going to take Elijah home, but Elisha wasn’t ready to let go. He was in denial about this reality and wasn’t about to leave his side, no matter what it meant or where he decided to go.
3 The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?”
“Yes, I know,” Elisha replied, “so be quiet.”
More than being in denial, Elisha was angry knowing that he was about to lose Elijah. God seemed to be letting the whole family of prophets in on the soon departure of Elijah. In fact, Elijah seemed to be traveling around to each group of his family one last time.
4 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, Elisha; the Lord has sent me to Jericho.”
And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho.
5 The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?”
“Yes, I know,” I replied, “so be quiet.”
6 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to the Jordan. ”
And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them walked on.
When we walk through difficult seasons of life, we never do it alone. That sounds like a word of encouragement, but consider what this can also mean.
You break down on the side of the highway. Some people fly by dangerously close to you never skipping a beat, some people slow down and cautiously go around you, some people pause and yell out their window to see what’s going on. Everyone is staring at you as they go by, but no one stops and actually helps you in any way.
Sometimes you feel that way in life. You are at your lowest low, broken, hurting, feeling like everything has just crashed down around you. Sure, there are people there, you are not alone. However, you feel all alone. You feel like everyone is just watching you, but no one can reach you or can help you. Elisha may have felt just that way…
7 Fifty men from the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. 8 Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground.
9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”
People ask what they can do for you, but you honestly don’t know what anyone could possibly do to help in any way. Elisha had time to think through this. Though he didn’t want to part ways with Elijah and to lose him, he knew what he longed for if he could no longer physically be with Elijah. It was bargaining time. He wanted an inheritance, and not an inheritance of any earthly thing. If he had to lose Elijah, he wanted something to replace him with.
“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit, ” Elisha replied.
10 “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours — otherwise, it will not.”
11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 12 Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel! ” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two.
Finally, it happened. In a whirlwind, Elijah was taken home by God and Elisha left on the earth. Perhaps you’ve felt that way before as well, the overwhelming whirlwind of depression. Everything around you changes and you are left to continue on in life with a great loss. You know that things will never be the same, but your heart longs for it to be so. You know you can’t go back, but oh what you would give just to have one last time walking and talking together.
What have you left to do, but to accept your new reality; to pickup the pieces of your life leftover and to learn to live life anew?
13 Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan.
However, the pain of grief doesn’t go away quickly and it can sneak up on you when you least expect it. Perhaps, like Elijah, you have acted in your bitter anger and asked this question?
14 He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord , the God of Elijah?” I have asked.
Where are you now, Lord? Where are you God? God’s answer always remains the same:
When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.
God is always right there with you and for you. He will never leave nor fore sake you, no matter what your emotions may say otherwise. Not only is God there, but your true family is right there for you as well. They may do some strange things to “help” you that you don’t agree with, but at least they genuinely care for you and love you…
15 The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, “The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha. ” And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him. 16 “Look,” they said, “we your servants have fifty able men. Let them go and look for your master. Perhaps the Spirit of the Lord has picked him up and set him down on some mountain or in some valley. ”
“No,” Elisha replied, “do not send them.”
17 But they persisted until he was too embarrassed to refuse. So I said, “Send them.” And they sent fifty men, who searched for three days but did not find him. 18 When they returned to Elisha, who was staying in Jericho, I said to them, “Didn’t I tell you not to go?”
God is our restorer!
This may have been a painful season of loss and mourning for Elisha, but the rest of his days following his loss were amazing. What he had lost in Elijah, he gained more than double in his own adventures with God through the spirit that he inherited from Elijah. He saw the miraculous on a regular basis and lead God’s people further into their destiny. He was given opportunities that he likely never would have had serving under Elijah.
Yes, God takes away, but God also gives! When we learn to let go, only then do we truly learn to receive!
Job is described as being the greatest man among all of the people of the east. However, he is still best known only for the prolonged season of grief, suffering, and loss in his life as all he had was stolen from him by Satan. How did Job respond?
20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.”
22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
What Job should be best known for, however, is not often what people think of. Job was the greatest man in the eastern world, lost it all, BUT GOD! God restored DOUBLE what he had! That’s what we should remember Job for: a victorious worshipper who overcame Satan, himself, and gained back double what had been stolen from him!
10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.
12 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part…
16 After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation.
The lowly he (God) sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
God is our restorer! This morning, whatever time and season of life God has you in, trust that your best days are still ahead! Whatever loss you may have experienced in your past, or perhaps in the present, God is able to somehow restore double! Elijah rose the dead to life, Elisha rose the dead to life, Jesus raised from death to life and the Holy Spirit wants to do some resurrecting in your life today!
This morning, make this song more than just words.
Make this song your prayer!
Make this song your heart’s cry!
Make this song your life’s anthem!
Make this song your testimony!
The resurrected King, Jesus, is resurrecting you! He is the restorer!