2 Kings 2:13 – He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan;
2 Kings 2:14 – And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.
Hello readers, time for a new blog today. Elijah’s mantle. And today I just want to take some simple thoughts from this text. The setting is that Elijah the prophet got taken to heaven and Elisha, who had been his servant, was left alone. When Elijah got taken up by a whirlwind, his mantle fell to the ground and Elisha went over and picked it up. This is where we get the saying “take up the mantle” from. So many sayings and expressions have their founding in the Bible. To take up the mantle is to carry on from where someone has left off. Elijah was a great prophet of God, and in taking up the mantle, Elisha would be continuing on the work of God in his absence as the next generation.
There is a mantle we can all take up today. Because the thought today is… taking up God’s proven word given to us by proven men… to faithful men. Elijah’s mantle was his covering, it was his cloak, it was his mantle that he had cast upon Elisha to begin with to anoint him as his successor. It was the same mantle with which he had wrapped his face when standing in the cave as he talked to God. The mantle today we will think of as representative of God’s word. Many great men of God have gone on to be with the Lord, be them fathers or spiritual fathers, be them just faithful men of God who kept the faith, who stood by and for God’s word. You see, although God’s word is God’s word… God keeps it and it is eternal… we as human beings are custodians of God’s word. The tabernacle of God is with man, man is a special creation, and God works through men to reach others with the gospel.
The Bible says “whose faith follow” referring to when we should follow men of God who have the word of God abiding in them and flowing their lives towards others. Paul said to be followers of me, as I follow Christ. There is nothing wrong with following someone who is following God. The people of Israel followed Moses, because Moses followed God. There have been men of God like Elijah through time who have left a mantle, a mantle we can take up. It is important to realize though that taking up the mantle isn’t following man, but following the God of the man. That’s what Elisha knew, he said where is the Lord God of Elijah? We can get stuck looking back of heroes of the faith and worship them rather than God. It is important that the mantle that is left that we take up is God’s word, and the anointing it gives us and the authority it gives us, just as this mantle did, because it is God’s word… it has the seal of the king, God’s word does not return to him void.
The mantle is a proven word. Elijah’s life was proven. His God was proven. At Mount Carmel God proved who was God. Many mockers, scorners and doubters today say everyone thinks their God is God. That’s what Mount Carmel was about. Which God is God… the God that answers by fire. Why do you think the record of the flood, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is so questioned today. Why do you think the Biblical account of creation is so disputed today. Why is the resurrection of Jesus Christ mocked? Because all these things show who is the God. Because who is God, is the God who has power. God has shown his power many times. God is the judge, and only the true God can judge his creation. It seems ironic that evil men say why does a good God allow suffering and pain and do nothing about it? Yet when he does they say he’s such a vindictive mean God. God wiped out nations, civilizations, peoples many times over for their sin… the reason why it seems like God is doing nothing is because he is longsuffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. Sinners have an answer for everything. God’s apparent lack of existence and involvement doesn’t mean he’s not real nor his word true… but as the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 8… Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. They turn God’s grace and mercy into a license and approval and validation of their sin.
So today, I want to think about the mantle as a picture of God’s word. That’s the most important thing any godly man can leave someone else. John wrote, I have no greater joy than that my children walk in truth. It’s a proven word, it’s tried, it’s tested… its that common salvation once delivered unto the saints, it’s that old sword that David got from Ahimelech the priest. SO many people have departed from the old, tried, tested, preserved, pure word of God. For a new word, because they want something new, something seeker friendly, something without offense, something that they can manipulate to excuse and justify their sin, something that doesn’t condemn their hearts. As Elijah had that mantle his journey of life, so we need God’s word, that same word that worked for godly fathers, for ourselves today. Follow proven men, like Elijah, like John the Baptist, rather than false prophets and teachers who lead you astray, who leave you no mantle that has no anointing, no power, no authority… which cannot cover you in such.
What’s interesting is that not only did Elisha get the mantle, but he also got a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. You see, with the mantle comes the spirit. With God’s word comes the Holy Spirit of God. They always agree, they always perfectly complement each other. God’s word is the letter, and the Spirit of God makes it life to us, it makes God’s word alive to us, it makes our calling possible. Who can live the Christian life without the Spirit of God? Many try, but fail… only through the Spirit of God can we overcome in this life. It takes the power of the Spirit of God, not man’s best. Saul was man’s best… he was head and shoulders above the rest of Israel… and look how he ended up, look how powerless and defeated he was. Even Samson, when he didn’t have the Spirit of the Lord… he was like any other man, he was defeated by the Philistines… it was when the Spirit of God came upon him that he was able to walk in life and victory.
Guess what parted Jordan… it was that old man’s mantle smiting the waters. That same mantle of God’s word still is the only thing that can part Jordan. In this story we see Elisha going places with Elijah while the sons of the prophets watch from afar. Jordan was the river they crossed to enter the promised land. Your success in life, your ability to live a victorious Christian life, a life that counts, will depend on you being faithful, on you having the Spirit and having the mantle. The mantle has been left for any who want to pick it up. It’s not you don’t have access to the mantle, it’s just that not many want to pick it up, not many are in a position to pick it up. Many watch on, very few actually cross the Jordan. We have the Bible available to us today, the old mantle, tried, tested, proven… why do people want something new, why do they want something inferior? The new Bibles today are not that old mantle, they have not come from old, faithful men of God, they have not been proven, they have no power to part the Jordan, they carry no anointing, no authority, no power… they’ll water down your faith and relegate you to being a watcher, to just living out a life without ever having crossed any Jordans.
You see, Elisha didn’t want any old spirit and didn’t pick up any old mantle. It was Elijah’s spirit, and it was Elijah’s mantle. Do you want a proven word left by proven men for you today? It was faithful Elisha that picked up the mantle… and we sure do need that mantle. When Elijah is gone from us… the only thing that will hold us up to stand by ourselves as we walk without people we may have relied upon so much… is having that old mantle and having a double portion of his spirit. What was the double portion of Elijah’s spirit anyway? Maybe it is referring to the fact that not only we need the Holy Spirit of God to get saved, we also need his empowerment for service… but do we just want to be saved and stay there, or do we want to be saved and follow the Lord Jesus Christ? Do we want a double portion? He wanted Elijah’s spirit, and so we should want that same spirit that men of God, proven men of the faith had, men like Noah, Joseph, Daniel… do you want their spirit? 2 Corinthians 3:17 – Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
Elijah was a rough and tough man. He told Ahab things he didn’t want to hear… that’s why Ahab didn’t want to hear him, or any of the actual prophets of God. He loved hearing the false prophets with their false words and false spirits… who got him killed. Do you really want Elijah’s mantle and Elijah’s spirit? Maybe the cost is too great for you. Do you want the tried and tested word of God? Do you really want the Spirit of God in your life… he might take you to some Jordans, Jordans which noone else want to cross or indeed can cross? But that mantle is what we need to take up today. It is God’s proven word, from God’s proven men, to those who have some faith today to take it up and continue on and stand for Jesus Christ.