Elisha and Elijah crossed the Jordan river, in the same place where the sons of Israel had entered into Canaan led by Joshua. Elisha knew that Elijah was going to be taken from him – he heard this prophecy three times from the sons of the prophets. Elisha anticipated this moment and he had a plan. What was his plan? to become greater than his master!
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.”
(2 Kings 2:9-10)
It is a hard thing to ask indeed. but what our God promises – He fulfills. Not because He likes the man, or because the man is worthy – no! Because God is faithful.
Was Elisha worthy? Let’s look how he behaved, from the moment his master left him:
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.
(2 Kings 2:12)
What was Elisha shouting? Many interpretations were given about this shout. Can it be that he was actually saying in other words: God! I saw it! I saw the chariot and horsemen! Now give me what you promised!
And we continue reading:
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.
(2 Kings 2:14)
What is this language? “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” Is this the gentleman that we expect a man of God to be? Not really…
So Elisha really spoke to God in kind of demanding. And our God gave him what he asked for: a double portion of the spirit – even though, in our human judgemental mind, we may say his is a rude and arrogant person.
And from now on, we see that Elisha really got a double portion – on one hand he performs many more miracle than his master did. But unlike his master, he is very much appreciated by the kings and the high society. He is the kind of man that likes to be acknowledged of what he is – A man of God.
Let’s look into the following story:
Now there came a day when Elisha passed over to Shunem, where there was a prominent woman, and she persuaded him to eat food. And so it was, as often as he passed by, he turned in there to eat food. 9 She said to her husband, “Behold now, I perceive that this is a holy man of God passing by us continually.10 Please, let us make a little walled upper chamber and let us set a bed for him there, and a table and a chair and a lampstand; and it shall be, when he comes to us, that he can turn in there.”
(2 Kings 4:8-10)
This is “a holy man of God”! Rich people want to host him in their house. He is famous. He is adored. Was Elijah like this? No. Elijah was persecuted. He had to escape from the king and his wife.
And we see more of this in how Elisha dares to behave in front of Naaman, the Aramaic captain:
So Naaman came with his horses and his chariots and stood at the doorway of the house of Elisha. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.”11 But Naaman was furious and went away and said, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God
(2 Kings 5:9-11)
Naaman did not expect such an attitude. This was not accepted. But this is Elisha who got a double portion of the spirit that had been upon Elijah. He, and only he, can act like this.
There are more examples of this arrogance of Elisha in 2 Kings. For example how he speaks to the King in Samaria in chapter 6.
A spiritual principle
The principle we learn from Elisha is that when we approach God and ask for a gift – a spiritual gift – God wants to bestow on us. We might not be perfect, we may not be very nice. We certainly are considered sinners. It does not mean we cannot ask for gifts. And we can ask for a double portion of the Spirit!
The place where Elisha accepted the double portion, is the same place where the sons of Israel entered into the land. But there was another event that took place in the exact same place:
John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. 33 I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’
Was this spirit, descending from heaven, a double portion? a triple portion? or infinite?