The Jordan is waiting
Character in a time of crisis ( day 20)
‘Then Elijah said to him, “Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on.’ (2 Kings 2:6 ESV)
The American Songwriter Rich Mullins in his song entitled ‘Elijah’ wrote these words
‘The Jordan is waiting for me to cross through
My heart is ageing I can tell
So Lord, I’m begging for one last favour from You
Here’s my heart take it where You will.’
For the Christian, the Jordan is often symbolic of death and of crossing over into the promise of eternal life beyond. As the Jordan was to the children of Israel the last physical barrier that separated them from the promised land of their inheritance, so death is that last barrier, that last enemy we must all face before we leave this life. The Jordan was waiting for Elijah, as it does for you and me as well, and one day we will have to cross through to the other side. Oh to face the end with the same spirit and assurance of faith as Elijah did?
During the days of Elijah and Elisha, companies of prophets were located at Bethel, Jericho and Gilgal. Elijah journeyed at God’s command to Gilgal (verse 1), Bethel (verse 2) and Jericho (verse 4) for a last meeting with each of these companies. Yet Elisha is not with any of these schools of theology, Elisha is solely and exclusively with Elijah, learning from him, and being prepared by God to take over from him.
There is a real heart-wrenching poignancy about these last few verses in the life of Elijah Israel’s greatest prophet. His young understudy Elisha knows the dread day is coming but does not want to talk about it (verse 3 & 5). In a last great miraculous act, Elijah took off his mantle and struck the waters of the Jordan which parted for the two of them to cross over on the dry ground, and yet another parallel with Moses is made ( Exodus 14:16)
How did Elijah feel in these last few moments of his earthly life? He was probably elated. He was going home, and he knew that the God He had lived for was going to receive him into glory. What about Elisha? He is downcast, knowing that he will be deprived of the companionship, counsel and support of this great man of God. Elisha is depressed and sad, but through his great mentor, he has glimpsed the eternal reality of living in God’s presence. And I believe that at this point Elisha wanted to go too. Who wouldn’t? Have we ever been homesick for heaven? Have we ever envied loved ones who have gone before us? I know I have. I know that I have longed for that which the word of God reminds us of that to be with Christ, which is far better (Philippians 1:23 NKJV).
Elisha is facing the wrenching pain that any of us about to lose a loved one face. But the thing is, Elijah’s work was over, Elisha’s was just beginning. For you and I, there is a reason why we are still here. There is work for us to do. It is not for us to wonder as to why God does things, or what He may ask of us to do. It is for us to be faithful in that which He asks of us. Some Christians seem to be so Elijah like, and their lives are a short and spectacular flame-like his. I think of preachers like George Whitfield, Robert Murray McCheyne, William Chalmers Burns, who all died young or Christian singers like Keith Green and Rich Mullins himself. Only a few years after writing his song ‘Elijah’ that I referred to above Rich Mullins was killed in a car crash. The words of the chorus seem so prophetic now.
But when I leave, I want to go out like Elijah.
With a whirlwind to fuel my chariot of fire
And when I look back on the stars
Well, It’ll be like a candlelight in Central Park
And it won’t break my heart to say goodbye
For most of us, though, like Elisha, we have work still to do.