At our last Session meeting, we talked about Succession. Of how important it is to always be identifying, nurturing and mentoring others to succeed us, because the realities are . . .
~ View copy of sermon – (2 Kings 2: 1 – 15)
Sermon Title: IT’S IN YOUR HANDS / 2 Kings 2: 1 – 15
Sunday, June 30, 2019
2 Kings 2: 1 – 15
Series on Elijah #2
Preached by Rev. Dr. Harold E. Kidd
IT’S IN YOUR HANDS
“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 upon me.”
At last Sunday’s Session meeting in reviewing a new proposed contract for one of our staff we talked about Succession. Of how important it is to always be identifying, nurturing and mentoring others to succeed us, because the realities are that people go and come, and for a variety of reasons, but congregations are perpetual. This same reality is true generationally for every family, institution, and place of employment. So, we should always be on the lookout for those of who have the potential, or the desire to succeed us.
It would be a tragic mistake to fulfill our responsibilities in our families, or careers, and a host of other occupations and never consider the need to prepare others to succeed us. We move on to other seasons in life, our priorities in life may change, some relocate, some change careers, health issues may alter one’s ability to continue in a certain area of leadership, everyone ages, and eventually death meets us all. And the question is always who will there be to succeed us?
And no matter how much we don’t want it to happen, no matter how unprepared we feel to be on our own, mentor and guides eventually leave us, forcing us to carry on without them. Some of you will recall a Series Movies based upon J.R. R. Tolkien’s Fantasy Novel The Lord of The Rings That were produced in the early 2000. Which was a sequel to his first Novel The Hobbit.
The storyline of is a meek Hobbit from the Shire and eight companions who set out on a journey to destroy the powerful One Ring and save Middle earth from the Dark Lord Sauron. An ancient ring thought lost for centuries has been found and through strange twist of fate has been given to a small Hobbit named Frodo. The theme of the novel is a classic struggle between good and evil. It is always filled with themes on Friendship, courage, sacrifice, temptation, and perseverance when it seems that everything and everyone is working against you. As Frodo seeks to destroy Evil and evil seeks to destroy Frodo, throughout this dangerous journey, one of the themes that arises is that of mentoring as Frodo is aided and guided by a Wizard named Gandalf.
Frodo has become highly dependent upon Gandalf for guidance, wisdom and courage in Gandalf helping him to defeat the evil Sauron. In the Fellowship of the Ring there is a scene where Gandolf falls down into the Dwarves Mountain and supposedly dies. He returns in later in the next Movie The Twin Towers as Gandalf The White. But for the moment. Frodo is now without his mentor, guide and friend.
I remember years ago watching this Movie with my Niece Nikki. And when Gandolf fell down the Mountain, out of the blue she said, “The wizard had to be taken away from Fordo in order for Frodo to grow, find within himself the courage and strength to continue in this dangerous journey to destroy the evil Sauron.” And she went on to say that sometimes God removes persons who are an important part of our lives, because either we nor they would not continue to develop into their fullest potential. We’re talking about mentoring this morning.
They were in the prime of their marital years, Dorothy’s husband was not only her life companion, her best friend, her confidant and her lover, but he was always in many ways her mentor. And when he suddenly died, she had to learn from her life with him and what he had taught her, how to meet with contractors when repairs needed to be done around the house, how to speak with men at the auto repair shop who may have thought she was an easy mark because she was a woman and didn’t know very much about cars. She had to do all of the budgeting and financial planning that they once had done together.
Everyone needs mentoring. We would not realize our fullest potential without persons who have been a part of our lives who mentored us. Because you can’t become what you never see. Raising oneself, can be a difficult task if one has never had persons in their lives who have modeled for them what life is all about. Moses mentored Joshua. Naomi mentored Ruth. Barnabas mentored John Mark. Paul mentored Timothy. Jesus selected and mentored 12 disciples to follow in His footsteps and carry on the Great Work of making disciples once He was taken up into Glory.
I was attending a Town Hall meeting a few weeks ago and one of the persons attending during the open session made the comment that: “What we need is another Martin Luther King Jr.” And a response was made, that what we need is not one person to lead us, but a collective of individuals who will participate together in responsibilities of leadership. The notion that one leader and only one is a passing phenomenon. There is a leader in all of us. There is something of value that can be shared by all of us. And shared leadership is a result I would suggest of mentoring and nurturing others to realize their full potential.
As we continue in this Series on Elijah and Elisha. In our text for this morning Elisha, Elijah’s understudy is found asking the prophet for a double portion of his anointing. Elijah was about to transition off the seen. Soon he would be taken up in a chariot of fire. While Moses is considered the great Law Giver, Elijah is considered the great prophet of the Old Testament. Elijah the prophet who called for a famine and the rain ceased for three years. Elijah who called down fire from heaven and slew the prophets of Baal in a contest on Mount Carmel in a challenge of who is really God.
Elijah who by his mere presence in a widow’s home brought God’s favor into that house and even while she had only a small cruse of oil and a meal barrel that was just about empty. Every day she would go to her meal barrel and there was enough for one more day. Elijah had burst upon the scene during the dark days of Israel’s leadership. King Ahab and his wife Jezebel, had led the people into idolatrous worship of foreign gods which led to the people’s spiritual and moral decay.
Elijah was in the twilight of his glory days, but was used by God as a mentor to many other prophets, and he opened a school for prophets. Whom God raised up throughout the nation to help stem the tide of this moral and spiritual blackout that had begun under king Jeroboam. Well, every generation needs mentors who are willing to pass on what they’ve learned to the next generation, to bless our families, our communities, our churches and this world in which we live.
And while it being centuries later, times really haven’t changed that much because we find ourselves in a spiritual and moral blackout this morning. A time when we who love the Lord and who are called by His name are challenged to stand up and be counted. If God be God then worship Him, but if Baal, if money, or pleasure, or materialism, or power be god then worship them.
In this profound request, “Give me a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha was not asking for prestige, or prominence, or personal gain. Elisha by some accounts had spent 10 years as a student under Elijah’s mentoring. During those ten long years of internship, Elisha was nurtured and inspired under Elijah’s love for God, passion for truth, his great insights into the secrets of walking with God. Elisha blossomed as a prophet in his own right under the influence of Elijah.
In spite of Elijah’s many feats of note, he was a humble spirit. Because he took the time to mentor Elisha. Some are good at what they do, they know how to do well what they do, but they fail in bringing someone alongside of them as Elijah did Elisha, or as Naomi did Ruth to pass on their years of learning and wisdom.
But now Elijah’s exploits under God were all but fully completed. He realized the time of his departure was close at hand. So must have Elisha as well. For in asking Elijah for a double portion of his spirit, Elisha did not make this request because he wanted to be greater than his mentor. He did not make this request because he was hungry for power. He did not make this request because he wanted to accomplish more than Elijah and have his name go down in Jewish history as the greatest of the Old Testament prophets.
Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit because of the dire need of the nation, because there was still much work to be done in turning God’s people fully back to God, because there was still corruption in high places, because God’s people were yet living below God’s intended plan and purpose for them.
The double portion of his spirit is a reference to Deuteronomy 21:17, where the firstborn son in receiving his inheritance to carry on the family name was given a double portion. Elisha wanted to be acknowledged as Elijah’s spiritual heir, equipped to serve God in a way that would befit the memory of Elijah. Amen. Elisha simply wanted to be a credit to the cause and so he asked for a “double portion of Elijah’s spirit.”
There’s something about succeeding those who have gone before us, those who have mentored us, taken time to nurture us, in our families, in the class room, in the neighborhood we grew up in, in our churches, that should inspire us to want to receive a double portion of the Holy Spirit because the work is great and it is not yet finished. To raise God fearing families in today’s world we need a double portion of the Spirit.
In this day and time of “Me, Myself and I’ism”, imagine what life would be like if we as One Nation under God, that’s a big ‘If”, would recapture, individually and collectively the notion of being a credit to something larger and greater than themselves. Being a credit to our families, our communities, a credit to humanity, a credit to the cause of Jesus Christ in this sin-sick world!
Well, the day came when Elijah went up in a chariot of fire, but just because Elijah was now gone, the work did not come to a screeching halt, because Elijah had passed his mantle of leadership to Elisha. And in biblical phraseology, this is where we get the term “Passing the Mantle”. Because in 2 Kings chapter 2 vs. 8 and following, when they arrived at the banks of the Jordan River, Elijah took his mantle and struck the waters and the two of them crossed over on dry ground. While 50 prophets who were students of Elijah stayed behind.
After they had crossed over, Elijah then asked Elisha what he desired from him which is when Elisha asked for a double portion of his spirit. And suddenly Elijah was caught up in a whirlwind of chariots of fire. Elisha then took up Elijah’s Mantle, and when he got bank to the waters of the Jordan, he struck the waters with the mantle and they divided once again and Elisha crossed back over on dry ground. These 50 Prophets Bearing witness that the Mantle of Elijah’s prophetic ministry had now been passed on to him, then came to meet him and they bowed before him.
And we ought to praise God this morning that mantles are being passed in this church. When we consider the younger generations, who are responsibly becoming Ruling Elders and Deacons, serving as Worship Liturgists, Preaching God’s Word from this Pulpit, and doing it far better than we ever did it at their age, we ought to thank God that Mantles are being passed. When you and I behold how younger generations who are giving leadership to our Church School and Child Care, and how Church School Youth are participating in worship on any given Sunday we ought to praise God that mentoring is taking place and someday the mantle will be passed.