2 Kings 1-4

2 Kings 1-4…Take up your mantle.

When the time came for Elijah to depart from this world, he asked Elisha what he should do for his apprentice before being taken from Israel. At that point, Elisha could have asked for many things. He could have requested courage or boldness in ministry. Elisha could have asked for miraculous power. He might have sought Elijah’s intercession so that the king of Israel would be more willing to listen to the prophet’s student than he was to hear the prophet himself. Yet Elisha requested none of these things. Instead, he asked for a “double portion” of the spirit that was upon Elijah. Of course, enjoying the Holy Spirit’s anointing was key to receiving any of the other things that Elisha might have wanted. However, it is notable that Elisha understood enough not to seek success but rather the person who works in and through His people, namely, the Holy Spirit of God.

As Elijah told his assistant, the fact that Elisha saw him taken up into heaven on chariots of fire meant God had granted the new prophet’s wishes. At that point, Elisha faced a moment of decision. He could take up Elijah’s mantle of prophethood, the anointing of the Spirit, and the rejection by the world that went with it, or he could go his own way. Elisha chose the former option and went on to be one of the greatest prophets in the history of God’s people. We likewise face a moment of decision when the Lord calls us. Will we take up His mantle and follow Him?

As followers of the Lord, we are called to bear witness to Him where we are and insofar as we are able. This is the mantle—or better, the cross—that all of God’s people are given in this new covenant era. We are called not to be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:16–17), to stand firm for His truth. Like Elisha, we can do that only in the power of the Holy Spirit given to us.

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1 Kings 17-19

1 Kings 17-19…Half-hearted commitment.

In these chapters we see false prophets who brought paganism to the ancient Israelites and gave false comfort to the royal court. This sparked a confrontation involving Elijah on Mount Carmel. There, before the people of Israel, Elijah called the nation to choose whom it would serve: the Lord or Baal. It was not possible for them to serve both or to be double-minded. Of course, this is a theme that appears throughout the prophets and, indeed, the rest of the Bible. God is not interested in half-hearted commitment. He will either have our hearts in their entirety, or He will have nothing to do with us at all (Josh. 24:15; Ps. 119:113; Matt. 6:24; John 14:6).

From a human perspective, Elijah did not have the upper hand. He was outnumbered by the false prophets of Baal. However, that did not stop him from confronting them. We are familiar with the account of each side building an altar to its deity and calling down fire from heaven to prove which one was the true God. Elijah did everything possible to prove that Yahweh was God; he even soaked the sacrifices and built a moat so that only a powerful fire from heaven could consume the offering. That consuming fire is exactly what came for his sacrifice. Grounded in the Word of the Lord and trusting fully in His power, Elijah stood down a powerful enemy and testified to divine truth.

Ultimately, God only demands one thing—our full commitment to Him. We were made for our Creator, and He will not share us with another. He will not have us as His if we try to divide our ultimate allegiance between Him and anything else. In Elijah’s day, many in Israel tried to serve God and someone else on the side. We are ever tempted to do the same. Let us remember the One for whom we were made that we might realize that we can be satisfied in Him alone.