Why did Elisha ask for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit?

In the Old Testament, the blessings of God were given in double portions. For example, parents gave their first born a double blessing: “He shall acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the first fruits of his strength. The right of the firstborn is his” (Deuteronomy 21:17). Therefore, if a man had three sons, the inheritance would be divided into four portions, the eldest son would take two portions (Genesis 48:22; 2 Kings 2:9). Elkanah gave Hannah, his barren wife, a double portion because he loved her (1 Samuel 1:5). And we also read that the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had after the sufferings he endured (Job 42:10).

Elisha asked for a double portion

The prophet Elisha asked Elijah for a double portion of his spirit before he departs. His request was similar to Solomon’s petition from God. Solomon didn’t ask for worldly position but for wisdom to govern God’s people. Elisha asked for a spiritual birthright that he might  be considered as the first-born spiritual son of the elder prophet Elijah. He wanted to carry on the work begun by Elijah. And the Lord honored his request. Remarkably, the Bible records 28 miracles done by Elisha and 14 done by Elijah.

Elijah’s response

Elijah answered Elisha, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so” (2 Kings 2:10). It was not for a prophet to name his successor. Only God can appoint those who will carry out the prophetic office. And Elijah added, “if you see me being taken,” then Elisha would know that the Lord had seen fit to grant his request.

God grants Elisha his request

Then, suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him. Then, he went back to the bank of the Jordan where he struck the water with it and called on God’s name. At that moment, the waters of the river were divided and Elisha crossed over to the other side (v. 11-14).

“Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho saw him opposite them, they said, ‘The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.’ And they came to meet him and bowed to the ground before him” (2 Kings 2:15). From that point forward these men followed Elisha as their spiritual leader (2 Kings 4:38–41). And the new prophet returned to Jericho where he won the appreciation of the people by cleansing the unwholesome waters of their spring and making it drinkable (2 Kings 2:19).

When a leader who has spiritual responsibilities dies in the Lord, God appoints another as his replacement. The same Spirit that had led and empowered Elijah was to empower the Elisha with wisdom and strength. Later on, Elisha did many powerful works. Thus, the young faithful prophet walked in the steps of his master.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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