March 2, 2003am ďUp In Smoke?Ē 2 Kings 2:1-14
By Ronald E. George Jr. at the Fayetteville Baptist Church
In the original left behind story Elijah is carried up into heaven in a whirlwind. The chariots of heaven separate Elijah from Elisha, then Elijah is blown into the sky and up into heaven by a tornado (whirlwind). The amazing part of this story is what/who he left behind.
I remember a man by the name of Lloyd Higginbotham. I first met Lloyd in the 1980ís at a youth camp at our Baptist camp in Cowen, WV. It was obvious that this man loved the Lord and he loved the youth. He wanted to do all that he could to lead them to Jesus. Lloyd later was called into the ministry. We were together in Seminary classes and saw each other from time to time. He was called to pastor the Page Baptist Church. At the Page church Lloyd continued to pour his life into the ministry of that area. Especially the youth of that town were touched by Lloydís unflinching hand of sacrifice and service. Several years ago Lloyd started his own youth camp at our 4H campground. His dream was to create a local camp that was inexpensive for the youth and effective in leading to serve the Lord. One the emphases of Lloydís camp was good clean fun. It is fun to serve the Lord. Since Lloyd was taken up to be with the Lord, his mantle has continued. The Lloyd Higginbotham memorial camp has continued to flourish and last year over 200 youth and counselors gathered at the camp for a weekend of fun and worship.
Scripture Text: 2Kin 2:1 (NIV) When the LORD was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, "Stay here; the LORD has sent me to Bethel." But Elisha said, "As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you." So they went down to Bethel. 3 The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, "Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?" "Yes, I know," Elisha replied, "but do not speak of it." 4 Then Elijah said to him, "Stay here, Elisha; the LORD has sent me to Jericho." And he replied, "As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you." So they went to Jericho. 5 The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, "Do you know that the LORD is going to take your master from you today?" "Yes, I know," he replied, "but do not speak of it." 6 Then Elijah said to him, "Stay here; the LORD has sent me to the Jordan." And he replied, "As surely as the LORD lives and as you live, I will not leave you." So the two of them walked on. 7 Fifty men of the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. 8 Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground. 9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, "Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?" "Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit," Elisha replied. 10 "You have asked a difficult thing," Elijah said, "yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours--otherwise not." 11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 12 Elisha saw this and cried out, "My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!" And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them apart. 13 He picked up the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 Then he took the cloak that had fallen from him and struck the water with it. "Where now is the LORD, the God of Elijah?" he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.
The time will come? You will go up in smoke. The prophets kept reminding Elisha that Elijah would be taken. You donít like to think about it, (donít speak of it) but the time will come when you will be taken and you will be left. What will you do then?
Will you go with the Lord? Each time that Elijah told Elisha to stay he declined and went ahead. If you can do anything else, donít go. Elisha followed Elijah through the water on the dry ground.
What will you leave? Each of us will leave behind a legacy of who we are to those who are left behind. Some leave money, some leave real estate, and some leave houses. But what will we leave that will truly last forever?
Leave a mantle/cloak. You can leave a history of service to the Lord. This will make an eternal difference to those who are left behind. Jesus left behind a legacy of a life given for others. The Lordís Supper is the memorial of that life that he lived and died for others. This bread of sacrifice and cup of suffering he left behind for all who believe to eat and drink. He made it possible for others to follow by showing the way for them to go. He lived the death of a servant and gave himself for others to have the possibility of knowing the only true living God.
The Time will come. You will be left behind.
Pick up a mantle/cloak. How bad do you want to know the Lord of Elijah? Elijah kept telling Elisha to go back, but he wouldnít listen. He kept pursuing his dream of following Elijah to the end. Many tried to stop Jesus from following Godís plan for his life, but he wouldnít quit. He wouldnít give in. He kept on following the Lordís leading in his life, even when it meant he would have to die.
Are you looking? Elisha kept looking for Elijah to go up with the Lord into the air. Are we looking to the Lord for the time will come that he will call you to pick up your mantle? Are you ready to take up the cloak/mantle that is the symbol of the Lordís presence?
What will you ask for? Elisha didnít want to settle for second best. He wanted to be even more of a power for the Lord than Elijah was. Why do we strive for the best of the world when it only lasts for a few short years? That which Elijah, Elisha, Lloyd, and Jesus did will last forever. Their life and work will last throughout all eternity. We still remember it today. Their lives were instrumental in turning people to the way, the truth, and the life.
Where is the Lord the God of Elijah? After picking up the cloak that Elijah left behind, Elisha called upon the Lord hear his request and part the water as Elijah had done. The water parted and he walked on the dry land. After sacrificing his earthly life, Jesus depended on the Heavenly Father to part the grave so that he could arise. God has never let anyone down. He will do what he says he will do. Will you put the Lord to the test? Will you try God? If you give you life to God, you will gain much more than you will ever loose. He is faithful. He is true. He is God. Will you take up the mantle and leave behind a legacy that will make an eternal difference.