Finally, we have arrived back from the future and the past, ready to begin our chronological approach again.
Just as a reminder, I and II Kings were one book. So there is no break in the story as far as the author tells it. When we left off at the end of I Kings, Jehoshaphat had died, leaving his son, Jehoram, in charge.
And Ahab had died, leaving his son, Ahaziah, to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking the anger of the Lord.
II Kings 1: Ahaziah and Elijah
It starts in verse 1 by telling us that Moab rebelled when Ahab died. So we know immediately that Ahazian is not a strong replacement for the venerable Ahab.
Then in verse 2 he has a fall and it leaves him ill. He wants to know how his story is going to turn out, so he sends a messenger to go seek the knowledge of his recovery from a neighboring god, the lord of the flies.
God sends Elijah, with a question for the king, "You don't have a God in your own land to whom you could inquire? You had to offshore the work to someone else's god?" Unfortunately for Ahaziah the question came with bad news, "Therefore (because of the choice you made) you're not going to make it."
When Ahaziah heard the message, instead of repenting and seeking forgiveness from God, he, literally, decided to kill the messenger. He wanted to know what the messenger looked like. He was told it was a hairy man, meaning he was wearing clothes that still had the animal's wool or hair still on it. An NIV sidebar notes that this showed he was "poor", which showed everyone that he was not on the king's payroll, so his word had more credibility.
When the king determined it to be Elijah, he sent 50 men with a captain to get Elijah. Elijah was sitting on a hill and the captain called him a man of God and then told him that the king said to come down. Fire consumed them.
Again, rather than seeing God's glory and repent, Ahaziah sent another captain and 50 men. This captain also called him a man of God and then said that the king demand he come quickly. Fire consumed them.
I'm not sure if I'm correct here; but I think calling him a man of God and then telling him the king was making demands of him showed that the king thought his word was of higher authority than God's?
Anyway, Ahaziah went for the hat trick and send a third captain and his 50 men. This one got wise and realized that the man of God must be treated as such, instead of just another subject of the king. He humbled himself before Elijah and asked that the lives of he and his men be seen as precious.
The angel of the Lord, who had sent Elijah with the original message, assured Elijah that he could safely go with this captain to the king.
Elijah delivered the identical message to the king that he had given the king's messenger.
Then Ahaziah died. He had no son, so his brother Jehoram, or Joram, became king. This happened in the second year of the reign of Judah's king, also named Jehoram.
II Kings 2:
Elijah's Final Days
Elijah knew that his time on earth was almost done and planned a trip to Bethel, apparently to see his sons (or "sons of the prophet", so not actual sons). He told Elisha to stay behind, but Elisha would not leave him. So they went together. Elijah's sons told Elisha that his master was about to go away. Then Elijah was going on to Jericho and the process repeated itself. Then again as Elijah went to Jordan.
Wiersbe points out the historic stops selected by Elijah on his good-bye tour. Gilgal where the Israelites landed in the Promise Land and re-entered the covenant through circumcision; Bethel, where Abraham and Jacob worshipped the Lord, Jericho- Joshua's first victory in the Promise Land; and the Jordan- site of one of God's great miracles of the Old Testament. Elijah seemed to be taking Elisha on a remembrances tour.
Elijah struck the Jordan with its folded mantle and it split so he and Elisha could cross on dry ground. Not just ground where the river was separated, but actual DRY ground.
When they got to the other side, Elijah gave Elisha a last request before he went. Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah's spirit. They were walking and talking and a chariot and horses of fire separated them and a whirlwind took Elijah to heaven.
I feel like I should have something profound to say here. I haven't felt well, so I'm not really firing on all cylinders; but this is really something amazing. Elijah allowed himself to be poured out over and over. Constantly in danger, never in comfort. And used by God at every turn.
I want that for myself, and for God, and for those around me. But I so quickly bristle when losing even the most luxurious comfort.
He was utterly sold out to God. God could trust him with every supernatural act He had. I know Elijah ran off to the cave, but it seemed like it had really come to the end of himself. And God coaxed him back to duty. Amazing.
Elisha' Ministry Begins
At first Elisha grieved; but Elijah's mantle had fallen behind as he went and Elisha picked it up and used it as Elijah had to split the water and walked back to the other side.
Wiersbe thinks they had been together for about 10 years.
That's what we're called to do. Be. Make. Send. Be a disciple, bring others along so they can do what you do, and then send them out to make other disciples. And Elisha was ready. He didn't seem to hesitate or worry. He just did as he had been taught.
Jesus said that we'd do greater things than He...
The sons of the prophet saw all of it and knew that the mantle had, literally, been passed to Elisha. They came to him and bowed down. They wanted to search for Elijah, in case God had deposited him somewhere. At first Elisha said no, but then he let them search for three days and no Elijah.
Then Elijah purified the water and they were about to bear fruit in the land again.
Yikes. Starting in verse 23 is a brief story that some young men were challenging him to "go up." as Elijah did. they questioned his standing as the new Elijah. He called out two female bears who mauled 42 young men and Elisha went on his way.