Passing the baton ( part 2)
Character in time of crisis ( day 23)
The first thing that Elisha does after the dramatic way in which God takes his master and mentor Elijah away from him is to pick up the mantle that had fallen from Elijah and strike the water of the river Jordan with it (2 Kings 2:13-14). The mantle is Elijah’s badge of office as a prophet. As Moses had his staff, with which he struck the Red Sea, so Elijah strikes the River Jordan with his cloak. And Elisha does the same. Like Father – like son. What he is doing is on one level, simple and basic. Putting into practice what he has seen his mentor do, like a son imitating his father. Elisha’s first action though witnesses to the fact that “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” (2 Kings 2:15 ESV). He picks up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen and in faith strikes the river.
‘ Then he took the cloak of Elijah that had fallen from him and struck the water, saying, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.(2 Kings 2:14 ESV)
The mantle was all that Elisha had as a tangible reminder of his great mentor, but as that mantle fell, and in picking it up, the baton so to speak was passed to him. Elisha had asked for a double portion of the spirit of Elijah ( verse 9-10). Even Elijah admitted that this was a hard thing, but it was what Elisha needed and received. Even to have a fraction of the faith that Elijah had would be wonderful, but to ask for a double portion and what is more to receive it, was the greatest blessing Elisha could have.
He is picking up the baton just like an athlete in a relay race, and that image is one that seems so appropriate here and in other places in scripture. It is the Biblical way of mentoring that we see, for example, in Joshua taking over from Moses ( Joshua 1), or Timothy taking over to a degree from Paul (2 Timothy ). Joshua, for instance, begins as a soldier, but he is very quickly identified as Moses servant, understudy and appointed leader.
“So the Lord said to Moses, Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay your hand on him… “
. The baton is passed to Joshua. We read at the end of Deut 34:9
‘Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid hands on him’.
But what about us? Whose mantle has fallen upon us? Who do we have to follow in the faith Who are we to follow in earnestly contending for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (Jude 1:3 KJV) Those of us who are second or third generation Christians, do we know how blessed we are? Those who have or who had Christian parents, who had something passed on to us from a former generation. Or who had a Christian example in the home, in school, in Sunday School or in the community? Do you know how blessed you are?
But the question also has to be asked, what is it we are passing on to the next generation? What do we leave as a legacy for those coming after us ?. Who is picking up your mantle? Is it our kids, other family, school friends, Facebook friends, neighbours? Who is watching us, waiting to follow us? What is it they see in us that is worth imitating? Is your Christian life worth emulating as far as they concerned? Or does it turn them away from the faith? Is it merely a dry and dusty heritage and ossified traditions, is it a cold love and a divided church or community, or is it a living, vital faith in the Living God?