A Double Portion
Character in a time of Crisis ( Day 24)
‘When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.” 2 Kings 2:9
If Elijah is remembered for his chariot of fire, then Elisha is remembered for asking for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Even Elijah acknowledges that he has asked for a difficult thing ( 2 Kings 2:10). Yet Elisha did not ask for fame, fortune, success. He asked to be considered as Elijah’s (spiritual) son. The double portion is associated in Scripture with the eldest son. For example, Isaac’s blessing on Jacob ( Gen 27), Jacob’s blessing on Joseph ( Gen 48). In Deuteronomy 21:17 we read,
“he shall acknowledge the firstborn … by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the firstfruits of his strength. The right of the firstborn is his”.
He asked for a double portion of his spirit (verse 9 & 10). And as the narrative shows that Elisha was able to see Elijah being taken from him (verse 12), Elijah’s promise to Elisha is fulfilled.
It does seem as if a double portion of Elijah’s spirit did indeed rest upon Elijah, and throughout his life, he lived in a very different way from Elijah. While Elijah’s life was solitary, Elisha’s life was spent much more among people, and what is more twice as many miracles were performed by Elisha as by Elijah. Elijah (like John the Baptist himself) lived apart from people, and he emphasised the law, judgment, and the need for repentance from the people. But Elisha, like Jesus, lived among the people and emphasised grace, life, and hope (see for example the following passages in 2 Kings 4:8–37; 2 Ki 6:14–23; 2 Ki 8:7–15) Elisha was going to make his mark, and what is more fulfil the plans that God had revealed to Elijah a while before (1 Kings 19: 16).
Elisha was going to fulfil the plan that God had revealed to Elijah on Mount Horeb, but not as a clone of Elijah, but as a unique person in his own right. The comparisons or expectations of others should not hamper us from fulfilling our God-given purpose in life. Over the years, I have seen too many in my calling as a minister imitating someone else. I have heard too many ministers and others, adopting the holy voice, mannerisms and sometimes even gestures of revered mentors. God loves us as we are, not as clones of someone else. Elisha’s double portion was not so he could be a suped-up version of Elijah. It was so God’s plan and promise to Elijah would be fulfilled. (1 Kings 16-21)