“Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.’ And Elisha said, ‘Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me!”
What is the “double portion of your spirit” of which Elisha desires? The inheritance of a father was divided two thirds to the firstborn and a third to the remaining sons—a double portion of the father’s wealth (Deuteronomy 21:17). With peace or fellowship offerings, meat was shared between the officiating priest, family members, and friends (Leviticus 3:1-17 and 7:11-38). From the portion of the sacrifice that was given to Elkanah, a double portion was given to his beloved Hannah with the rest being divided among his less favored wife Peninah and her children (1 Samuel 1:4-5). Elders of the church are said to be worthy of double remuneration (1 Timothy 5:17-18).
These examples refer to material assets—is Elisha seeking a material opportunity by accepting Elijah’s offer to be his successor (1 Kings 19:16-19)? Is Elisha’s commitment to stay by Elijah’s side throughout Elijah’s last day on earth, self-serving (2:1-6)? Hardly! The fact is that Elijah had no inheritance to pass on to Elisha, except one—the mantle that he wore, which was a symbol of God’s presence and power in him. What impressed Elisha was Elijah’s commitment to God—his ministry. The hand of the Lord was on Elijah (1 Kings 18:46). He predicted natural disasters (1 Kings 17:1-7), ensured God’s blessing upon those who assisted him (1 Kings 17:8-16), raised the dead (1 Kings 17:17-24), and stood up to the false prophets of Baal and to Ahab, the King of Israel (1 Kings 18:20-46; 21:17-26). And even though his ministry overwhelmed him at times, even to the point of hiding for fear of his life (1 Kings 19:1-14), still Elisha saw in his mentor an intimate and dynamic relationship with God for which he longed.
A request for such a relationship with God was impossible for Elijah to grant. It was up to God alone to permit it. Was Elisha sincere enough, sensitive enough to God’s leading; was he willing to endure the difficulties associated with a life devoted to God? If Elisha was able to visibly witness Elijah’s divine translation into the heavens, the Lord’s answer would be, “Yes!” (2:10). Elisha wanted to honor God with his life, have enormous courage, and be given innumerable opportunities to bring the message of God to wayward Israel. God knew Elisha’s desire for ministry and granted him his request. He was to be Elijah’s successor as the prophets quickly witnessed by way of a miracle and the cynics quickly learned by way of judgment (1 Kings 15-25).
Think about what it would mean to possess double the physical skills of Michael Jordon, the musical talents of Michael W. Smith, or the intellectual abilities of Albert Einstein. As great a blessing as these would be, they are minuscule in comparison to having a double portion of God’s Spirit working in our lives. It is not that such a request is beyond receiving, but that we often fail to evaluate the depth of our desire to know and serve God without distraction (Hebrews 12:1). Imagine having a double portion of the apostles’ desire to serve God publicly and confidently—to have double Augustine’s desire to learn, Martin Luther’s courage to strive for reform, or Jim Elliott’s longing to see people know Christ as Savior. We each are equipped with spiritual gifts but do we have the desire to let God use them freely. At night my soul longs for You, indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently (Isaiah 26:9). Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth (Psalm 73:25). More, more of God! Two Scoops, please and make each scoop a large one.
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