Why Did Elisha Ask for Two Parts of Elijah’s Spirit?

Just before Elijah finished his assignment as a prophet in Israel, the younger prophet, Elisha, requested from him, “Please that two parts of your spirit may come to me” (2 Kings 2:9). Spiritually speaking, Elisha was surely claiming a double portion, such as that given to a firstborn son (Deut. 21:17). A brief consideration of the account will make this clear and will help us to draw lessons from what happened.

In harmony with God’s direction, the prophet Elijah had anointd Elisha as his successor (1 Kings 19:19-21). For some six years Elisha served as Elijah’s faithful cup-bearer and was determined to do this to the end. Even on Elijah’s last day as prophet in Israel Elisha stuck to his mentor. Although Elijah urged Elisha to stop following him, the young prophet stated three times, “I will not leave you” (2 Kings 2:2,4,6; also 2 Kings 3:11), indeed, Elisha viewed the older prophet as his spiritual father (2 Kings 2:12).

However, Elisha was not the only spiritual son of Elijah. Elijah and Elisha associated with a group of men known as “the sons of the prophets” (2 Kings 2:3). The account in 2nd Kings indicates that these “sons” felt a close bond with their spiritual father, Elijah (2 Kings 3:5,7,15-17). Yet, as anointed successor, Elisha was the foremost among Elijah’s spiritual “sons”, he was like the firstborn.

In ancient Israel, a literal firstborn son received two parts of his father’s inheritance, whereas the other sons each received one part, hence Elisha asked for two parts of Elijah’s spiritual inheritance.

Why did Elisha make this request at that particular time? Because he was about to take on a weighty task – that of succeeding Elijah as prophet in Israel. Elisha realised that, in order to fulfill the responsibilities related to this daunting assignment, he needed spiritual power far beyond his own capabilities, power that only God could provide. He needed to be fearless as Elijah had been (2 Kings 1:3,4,15-16). Thus he asked for two parts of Elijah’s spirit, a spirit of courage and of being “absolutely jealous for God”. (1 Kings 19:10). How did Elijah respond?

Elijah knew that Elisha had asked for something that was not his, but only God’s, to give, so Elijah replied, “You have asked a difficult thing. If you see me when taken from you it will happen to you that way” (2 Kings 2:10) and, indeed, God allowed Elisha to see Elijah ascend in a whirlwind. Elisha’s request was granted – God provided him with the spirit he needed to take on his new task and to face coming trials.

At times, we may feel overwhelmed and inadequate in the face of a new assignment, or may be losing some of our courage to continue our Kingdom preaching work, as we face increasing indifference or opposition in our area, yet if we ask, beg, God for His support, He will give us the courage and strength we need to cope with challenges and changing circumstances (Luke 11:13; 2 Cor. 4:7; Phil. 4:13).

Bro. John Kasanda (Kazembe, Zambia)

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