Passing the baton ( part 1)
Character in a time of Crisis Day 22
‘Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and struck the water, and said, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over ‘.2 Kings 2:14
Many of the phrases that are in common usage today in the English language have come to us from the King James Version of the Bible. Phrases such as ‘By the Skin of your teeth’, ‘feet of clay’, ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’, ‘a thorn in the flesh ‘, ‘by the sweat of your brow’ are just a small selection of many phrases that have enriched the English language from the King James Bible. Another good example is found at 2 Kings 2:14). The mantle of Elijah has fallen on Elisha. The origin of that phrase usually refers to an older person who on retiring passes on responsibility to someone else ( usually a younger person). That person proceeds to continue the work that was started by the older person.
In an earlier chapter, we saw God revealing His purposes to Elijah in these terms “Also you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimshi as king over Israel. And Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel Meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place. (1 Kings 19:16 NKJV)
What was the very first thing that Elijah did in response to this? He went to find Elisha who was ploughing with eleven others at the time and throw his mantle around him (1 Kings 19:19). We can easily miss the impact this had not only on Elisha but also his friends and family who may have witnessed this. They would have trembled in seeing Elijah come in the same way as the elders of Bethlehem trembled to see Samuel (1 Samuel 16:4). They saw the man they all recognised as Elijah the Tishbite come to Abel Meholah, they saw his wild appearance, the coarse garment of hair, and the prophet’s mantle or cloak, and they would wonder why he had come? Then Elijah cast his mantle upon Elisha and Elisha’s life could never be the same again, (something Elijah readily admits in 1 Kings 19:20).
How often have lives been changed beyond all measure by having to step up to the plate as we might say today to follow someone else? I think of how a reluctant Bob Paisley was asked to take over as manager of Liverpool to replace the legendary Bill Shankley. The rest is history! I think of how a young welsh assistant pastor was asked to take over Westminister Chapel after the retirement of the famous G Campbell Morgan. The assistant was called D Martyn Lloyd Jones! Elisha was called by God, as he was someone who like Esther and like Elijah before him had to come to this ‘ position for such a time as this’.
It is comforting to know that no matter how enormous the challenges we may see ahead. No matter how unqualified or inadequate we might feel. God has a purpose and plan for all of us, and even for such a time as this, is working out His sovereign will in and through His people.