Connections 02.14.2021: Stubborn Faithfulness

2 Kings 2:1-12

The prophet Elijah was on the final journey of his life. You’d think he’d be grateful to have his fellow prophet and disciple Elisha accompany him.

But Elijah kept trying to stop Elisha from going with him.

We are told that three times Elijah tried to get Elisha to stay behind, and three times Elisha refused. Three times Elisha told Elijah, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” Three times Elisha insisted on staying by his mentor’s side.

Elisha was stubbornly faithful to Elijah.

And so the two prophets journeyed on together. When they finally reached their destination, which was the place from where God would take Elijah away in a whirlwind, Elijah asked Elisha what Elijah could do for him.

Elisha requested a double share of Elijah’s spirit. Elijah told him that while his request was challenging, it could be granted if he saw Elijah being taken away.

And all the people said, “Seriously?”

After all, if Elijah had gotten his way, Elisha would have stayed behind a long time ago. And had Elisha stayed behind, he wouldn’t have been with Elijah to make his request. And if Elisha hadn’t been with Elijah to make his request, he wouldn’t have been able to watch Elijah being taken away, so his request wouldn’t have been granted.

A lot depended on Elisha’s stubborn faithfulness.

A lot may depend on ours too.

This story challenges us to practice stubborn faithfulness. It calls us to find our own way forward. It teaches us that we need to practice discernment even in evaluating guidance offered by a trusted mentor. It summons us to persevere in doing what we believe is the right thing to do.

I realize that one of the main points of the story is that Elisha was indeed heir to Elijah’s prophetic ministry. I furthermore realize that Elisha’s faithfulness was rewarded by his receiving the blessing he requested. But I also think that, even had Elisha walked away with less than he had asked for, he would have still walked away blessed.

Faithfulness to a purpose, to a mission, and to a calling is its own reward.

Discussion

  • Why might Elijah have discouraged Elisha from accompanying him?
  • What is the significance of the other prophets’ telling Elisha that God was going to take Elijah away from him?
  • What is the significance of Elijah’s striking the Jordan with his mantle? Of Elisha’s picking up Elijah’s mantle and doing the same thing (see vv. 13-14)?
  • What obstacles do we face in practicing stubborn faithfulness?

Michael Ruffin is husband to Debra, father to Joshua (Michelle) and Sara, grandfather to Sullivan and Isabella. A graduate of Mercer University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he has previously served as a pastor and as a university professor. He lives on the Ruffin Family Farm in Yatesville, Georgia. He is the Connections Series Curriculum Editor.

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