The Purpose, Not The Person
1 Now the Lord was going to take Elijah up to heaven in a windstorm, and Elijah and Elisha were leaving Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, because the Lord has sent me to Bethel.”
But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives and as you live, I won’t leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.
3 The group of prophets from Bethel came out to Elisha. These prophets said to Elisha, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master away from you today?”
Elisha said, “Yes, I know. Don’t talk about it!”
4 Elijah said, “Elisha, stay here, because the Lord has sent me to Jericho.”
But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives and as you live, I won’t leave you.” So they went to Jericho.
5 The group of prophets from Jericho approached Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master away from you today?”
He said, “Yes, I know. Don’t talk about it!”
6 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, because the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.”
But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives and as you live, I won’t leave you.” So both of them went on together. 7 Fifty members from the group of prophets also went along, but they stood at a distance. Both Elijah and Elisha stood beside the Jordan River. 8 Elijah then took his coat, rolled it up, and hit the water. Then the water was divided in two! Both of them crossed over on dry ground.9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “What do you want me to do for you before I’m taken away from you?”
Elisha said, “Let me have twice your spirit.”
10 Elijah said, “You’ve made a difficult request. If you can see me when I’m taken from you, then it will be yours. If you don’t see me, it won’t happen.”
11 They were walking along, talking, when suddenly a fiery chariot and fiery horses appeared and separated the two of them. Then Elijah went to heaven in a windstorm.
12 Elisha was watching, and he cried out, “Oh, my father, my father! Israel’s chariots and its riders!” When he could no longer see him, Elisha took hold of his clothes and ripped them in two.
2 Kings 2:1-12 CEB
Wanna make me angry in five seconds or less? Show me a billboard, ad, or blog where the minister is front and center smiling with their pearly whites. I wanna yell in my car, or at the computer (depending on where I see it) "Get out of the way, so I can see God!" Then I wonder, what would be left if they were to move out of the way? Did they build a solid foundation on Christ, or a mansion better suited in Babel? One wrong move and it all comes tumbling down in a sea or narcissism and self-promotion.
Both Elijah and Elisha bring out my inner seething. Don't get me wrong, it all ends well, but I'm reminded of those billboards while I read the scripture. God's Word is supposed to last longer than the pretty face smiling on the television asking for your money. God's Word is deeper than the superficial fake tan selling "Jesus" to us. God's word is richer than the tweetable messages meant to gain followers instead of Christians.
What we have in scripture is how it is really supposed to go. The message, the purpose, was bigger than Elijah. Perhaps Elisha would have kept his teacher and master around longer, but the bigger picture wasn't tied to a single man. In fact, there was a time in the Israelite story three Prophets had the same message, at the same time!
I read about the mantle dropping from Elijah to Elisha and I scream! Don't you get it! God picks a leader and the leader eventually moves on. Another takes the mantle. Elijah trained Elisha. Jesus trained the Disciples. Paul trained leaders in the cities he visited. Why do we get so caught up in these people who have great stage presence. We throw our adoration and love at them. Then we are baffled when they act less than divine. In fact, we've raised these people up so much, they tend to fall a little more than we would even forgive. They go from celebrity to bully, adulterer, philanderer, thief... They don't live up to their title "Person of God," and we are surprised. Why are we surprised? We put everything on the person, instead of God. If only we realized it was never about the person, and was always supposed to be about God.
Do I sound a little heated? I've seen enough internet bubbles pop to see what they all have in common. Instead of getting carried away in a chariot of fire, I've seen these pop-Christian icons going down in a flaming inferno, taking ministries with them. I want to blame the pretty face, but I'm left with the followers. It was their choice to start following a face instead of God; not trusting the message was bigger than the person speaking it.
So what is the point? What can you do with this? Just allow yourself to be a little skeptical of those who claim to have the "mantle", but don't want to give it up. The real "mantle" is given by God, and can be given to someone else when God chooses. Remember, above all else, the message is what is important; not the messenger.