#52 Chariot of Fire
Text: 2 Kings 2:7-12
Prop: A poster of Elijah and Elisha or a runner's baton
Summary: The story of Elijah passing his mantle to Elisha. Before God took Elijah to heaven in a chariot of fire, he prepared his follower to continue the Lord's work.
Have you ever watched the Olympics on TV? When runners are in a relay race, each runner goes all the way around the track and then hands off a stick (or baton) to the next runner. Then that runner takes it on the next part of the race and hands it off again. Life in God's kingdom is like a relay race. We are each responsible for running our part of the race, and then handing off, or passing on our faith, to the next generation of children that follow us.
I want to tell you a story about the day the great prophet Elijah did this with the man he had trained to follow in his footsteps: Elisha. They weren't running in a race. The prophets in those days wore something called a mantle. It was like a cloak, or overcoat.†It was a symbol of their authority from God to be a prophet.
Now Elijah had performed many great miracles in his day. He predicted a drought and lived through it. He overthrew the false prophets of Baal when God sent fire down from heaven and consumed a water-drenched sacrifice. He trained and anointed Elisha to succeed him, or to take over when he was old. Elijah knew that the time had come to pass the mantle on to Elisha. What Elisha didn't know was that God was sending a heavenly taxi to pick up Elijah before he died.
Elijah wanted to do this alone, but Elisha begged him to let him come along. Elisha loved Elijah and he wanted to be with him no matter what happened. Elijah wrapped his mantle together and struck the waters of the Jordan River and they parted, and then they walked over on dry ground. Fifty sons of the prophets were standing afar off and saw this happen.
[Read 2 Kings 2:9] Elisha asked for a special blessing. He wanted to be twice the man of God that Elijah had been. Elijah told him that if he saw God take him then he would get his wish.
[Read 2 Kings 2:11-12]
Elisha was astonished at what he saw happen next. He saw horses of fire and a chariot of fire come down from the sky in a whirlwind. It passed between them and took Elijah off to heaven! Wow! Can you imagine seeing the wind rushing around and a heavenly horse and chariot that was so shiny it sparkled like fire? It didn't burn Elijah. It came to pick him up and Elijah dropped his mantle as he was whisked away up in the air. Elisha picked it up and became the next great prophet of Israel. We don't see Elijah any more again until he appears with Moses beside the transfigured Jesus in all his glory. (Mark 9:4)
Elisha went on to perform many mighty miracles also. He used the mantle to cross back over the Jordan River on dry ground. He saved a poor widow by multiplying the oil in her jar. He raised a child from the dead! He saved a school of prophets from death during a famine when they ate poisonous vegetables. He healed the Syrian captain Naaman of leprosy. This gave Elisha a good influence with the Syrian king that later helped Israel (Luke 4:27).
The adults here today have a duty from God to train you, the children, to grow up with a strong faith in Jesus. May we learn from this story to train up a child in the way he should go (Proverbs 22:6), so we may see many of you come to a saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
©1998 by Jim Kerlin. All rights reserved.
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