In 2 Kings 2 Elijah tried to get Elisha to stay first in Gilgal then Bethel and then Jericho but each time Elisha refused to leave him. Elisha knew that the Lord was going to take Elijah that day and he refused to leave his side until the moment the Lord took him.
When they were at the Jordan, Elijah struck the water and it divided so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground. Then Elijah asked Elisha what he could do for him before he was taken away from him. Elisha asked for a double portion of his spirit to be on him.
Elijah said that if Elisha saw him when he was taken from him then the double portion was his. If not then it was not meant to be. It was up to God. As it happened Elisha saw when a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire and separated him and Elijah who went up by a whirlwind into heaven. So Elisha took up Elijah’s mantle. This signified Elisha’s succession to Elijah’s ministry.
When Elisha struck the water of the Jordan the Lord authenticated Elisha’s succession to Elijah’s ministry and demonstrated that the same divine power that had accompanied Elijah’s ministry was now operative in the ministry of Elisha. In crossing the Jordan as Joshua had before him, Elisha is shown to be Elijah’s “Joshua”. Elisha and Joshua are very similar names, Elisha meaning “God saves” and Joshua “The Lord saves” (NIV Bible Study).
Elijah’s mantle was passed to Elisha whom God chose to take Elijah’s place. A mantle is a cloak made of fur or fine material–a prophet’s garment. Elisha was in the field plowing when Elijah passed by him and threw his mantle on him. Elisha wanted to kiss his parents goodbye before he went with the older prophet but Elijah said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” This question “Could mean, ‘Go back, but remember what I have done to you.’ It might be a rebuke at any delay in following.” (Wiseman).
We read next that in response and perhaps to show Elijah that he was serious about following him, turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen’s equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he got up and followed Elijah. This reminded me of James and John who left their father and trade and followed Jesus. They didn’t ask to go and kiss their mother. They didn’t delay. They were ready to follow Him. Same thing with Matthew. He immediately got up from the table where he collected the tax money and followed Jesus. Elisha had to take up the mantle and follow Elijah because it was only a matter of time before Elijah’s work was done.
When Jesus invites you to follow Him, will your response be immediate? When God calls you to serve Him will you tell Him, “Okay, Lord but first let me…”? Be ready when the mantle is passed to you.