GEMS FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT
Although I saw some as a kid, I never wished upon a shooting star. Probably because I never saw the movie Pinocchio and heard the song therein. Neither did my parents ever talk about the old myth of so wishing. If anything, we talked about how King Solomon was given and granted his wish from God—a wish for wisdom to rule his people with knowledge and justice.
Elisha made a similar request. It seems as if the whole countryside knew that something big was in the air. Shortly before his whirlwind ascension, the prophet Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask! What may I do for you before I am taken away from you?” Elisha replied, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” (2 Kings 2:9) Elijah had been the spiritual leader and bulwark of Israel. Like Solomon, Elisha requested a most beneficial blessing with which to better serve God’s people. He witnessed Elijah’s ascension and his request was granted.
We are told Jesus prayed often. He also testified, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me . . . to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19) Our Lord was anointed, not with Elijah’s spirit, but with the Holy Spirit. Thus He was empowered to preach the kingdom of God, to perform great miracles, and to redeem the world and atone for all sin with His lifeblood. Asking for the Spirit is no mean thing.
Our own fellowship finds itself in a challenging situation—to continue the kingdom work in an evil day. The great prophets and leaders of yesterday have been taken from us. We find ourselves with limited resources and in great need of manpower. Luther and Walther, and many others of godly fame are no longer with us—even to ask for doubles of their spirit. What to do? The challenge is great, but there is an obvious first request. Ask the Lord for spiritual doubles and triples and even quadruples. It might seem like a hard ask, as was Elisha’s, but we are assured by Scripture that “God does not give the Spirit by measure.” (John 3:34) We can proceed and prosper in our kingdom work, for God bestows His Spirit without limits. If only we ask.
Besides the verbal promise of Elijah, what is the evidence that Elisha received a “spiritual double portion”?
One indication might be that Elisha, during his ministry, seems to have performed twice as many recorded miracles as did Elijah. And the last one was simply amazing.
Here is what it was and how it happened. According to 2 Kings 13:20-21, Elisha became sick unto death and was buried. At that time marauding bands from Moab invaded Israel most every spring. One day the raiders interrupted a funeral. In haste the dead man’s body was placed in the tomb of Elisha. When the corpse touched the bones of the prophet, the man was revived.
Can we not glean several lessons from this amazing miracle? Even though they are dead, “holy men of God” (2 Peter 1:21) continue to be a blessing to His people. Their inspired words are truth and they bring life to those who read and believe them.
Furthermore, it is no small thing to be buried with The Prophet. As Paul testified, “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4) By this burial-connection to Christ, we’ve been raised to spiritual life. And by His resurrection power, our bodies will be raised to the life everlasting, to join Elijah and Elisha and all the blessed saints in glory. What a promised and glorious last miracle!
David Fuerstenau is pastor of Holy Truth Lutheran Church in Ketchikan, Alaska.