LIFE’S JOURNEY – TAKING THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED - 2 Kings 2

First of all welcome family; it is good to be together in the Name of יהושע our Messiah, aměn! I am sure that many of you have had a very challenging week; at times it seems as though the days just fly by and before you know it the week is almost up. Well we are here to embrace the joy and wonder of our Maker and King and come and enjoy His Sabbath made for us to enter in to His rest, that we may be strengthened to continue in our faithful walk in Him. Life’s a journey – enjoy the ride – a very popular slogan also used by a well-known car manufacturer, but let me ask you – how many of you actually enjoy ‘the ride’ so to speak? Or in essence are you on the right ride? Often this slogan can be loosely used to signify being careless and being able to do what you want as “it doesn’t matter anyway” kind of mentality, yet this journey we are on in life does matter, in fact it matters a whole lot, and the only way to walk in the fullness of this journey we find ourselves on is to walk in total submission and obedience to the Torah and instructions of יהוה, walking fully in יהושע as we walk as He walked – and as we all know very well – it is not always an easy path, a path few choose to take. As we look tonight at the transition of ministry that takes place between Ěliyahu and Elisha, I have a message called, ‘Life’s journey – taking the road less travelled!” Please turn with me to Melaḵim Bět/ 2 Kings 2. (Read)

This is such an exciting chapter that carries such great insight and teaching for us, from which we will glean some of these lessons contained in these verses as we look at the life of Elisha.

In summary of these events we can see that both Ěliyahu and Elisha depart from a place called Gilgal on toward Bĕyth Ěl (Bethel), and Elisha had learned (perhaps from Ěliyahu himself) that this would be Ěliyahu’s last day or journey here on earth and was so determined to be with his father in the faith till the very end and so he refused the suggestion by Ěliyahu to remain at Gilgal. As one understands from history, it was often the case that a dying person would pronounce blessings upon others, and it is clear that Elisha was not going to miss out on the very opportunity in receiving a blessing of יהוה from Ěliyahu for his life and ministry that was ahead of him.

At Bĕyth Ěl there was a school of prophets who also had the knowledge of Ěliyahu’s imminent departure that was about to take place by יהוה and they told Elisha to which he plainly responded that he also knew and asked them to be silent about it – perhaps so as to not draw a crowd or also in a sense saying that he doesn’t want any more sorrow added to him over the coming departure of his spiritual father and mentor in the faith. He was basically saying, “Ok I know so stop reminding me!”

This day Elisha was tested once again by Ěliyahu in his commitment to continue in walking with him by suggesting he stay at Bĕyth Ěl instead of going with Ěliyahu on to Yeriḥo (Jericho). Having been tested twice now, Elisha remained steadfast in his commitment to staying with and following Ěliyahu, showing great zeal by refusing to leave Ěliyahu. Once again there was another school of prophets at Yeriḥo who gave Elisha the same info the gave him at Bĕyth Ěl to which he responded in the same way he did to the previous group, showing his commitment to not changing his mind, even while many were telling him of the soon to be tragic loss of Ěliyahu!

Another test for Elisha – the third in one day! Ěliyahu once again suggested that he remain at Yeriḥo to which he refused again and in a sense was showing his zeal in refusing to put his own comfort ahead of the blessing of walking with Ěliyahu all the way and with the hope of receiving a great blessing from יהוה! So they both headed for the Yarděn (Jordan).

When they arrived at the Yarděn, 50 men of the sons of the prophets (students of prophets – prophets in training) stood at a distance and watched, knowing that Ěliyahu was about to depart, to see what would happen. It is an interesting picture here in that the same is seen today – many are aware of what lies ahead yet they are standing at a distance to see what is going on yet will not come to the point of dying to self and walking in total obedience – a picture of those who will always comment from the side-lines yet never have the courage to get on the playing field and give their all for their team, they are always the ones who will criticise every move yet never actually apply the very faith they are called to!

At the bank of the Yarděn, Ěliyahu rolled up his cloak, which is the Hebrew word ‘addereth’ which is also translated as mantle, mantle carrying the meaning of a cloak, outer garment, and esteem or can also be a figurative cloak that symbolised pre-eminence and authority, that is the accepted mantle of authority. Ěliyahu’s outer garment was his symbol of authority with which he took off to strike the water – using it as a symbol of יהוה’s power that had been placed upon Him by יהוה. A prophet’s cloak symbolised his authority under יהוה with which יהוה had clothed and empowered him.

The water dried up and the 2 of them crossed on dry land just as the Yisra’ĕlites had done through the Sea of Reeds (Red Sea) and the Yarděn hundreds of years before and this very event was a symbol of one of the similarities between the ministries of Moshe (Moses) and Ěliyahu. Moshe was a prophet who led Yisra’ĕl to Mount Sinai to receive the marriage contract – the Torah in writing as a covenant. Ěliyahu was a prophet who would call the adulterated Bride to repentance and back to the Torah!

At this miraculous event Elisha was quickly reminded that the same Elohim with the same power that brought Yisra’ĕl out of Mitsrayim was alive and active in Yisra’ĕl!!!  May we today too be reminded that the same Elohim with the same power is still very alive and active in Yisra’ĕl, aměn!

Elisha having travelled with Ěliyahu and having been tested 3 times and enduring through these tests, having ‘crossed over’ the Yarděn is now asked by Ěliyahu what he could do for Elisha before he would be taken from him. And here Elisha request a double portion of his spirit, in effect the assumption is made that he is asking for the rite of the firstborn, as it would be that the firstborn would receive a double portion of the inheritance from their father. But here Elisha was in a sense Ěliyahu’s only son, so how could he receive double of all the Ěliyahu had to give? What he was asking for was difficult and not for Ěliyahu to be able to give – it was only יהוה who could grant such a request! Elisha was asking to be Ěliyahu’s successor who could be privileged in carrying on the ministry of Ěliyahu under יהוה! Ěliyahu was correct in saying it is a difficult thing as it is not man who calls man into positions of spiritual authority – it is יהוה! And we know from these events recorded here as well as many other examples in Scripture that before יהוה appoints a man He first tests the man – and Elisha had certainly been tested this day in His journey with Ěliyahu.

The sign of him receiving his request would be that he would be able to see Ěliyahu being taken away from him. This of course was not a condition to receive what he asked for but rather the evidence that he would receive what head asked for.

All of a sudden while they were talking, a chariot of fire with horses of fire came and separated the two of them and Ěliyahu was taken up in a whirlwind into the heavens. Can you imagine this awesome event? There was great anticipation I am sure but when this happened and Elisha got to see it happen!!! The whirlwind is a picture of the very presence of יהוה that led Yisra’ĕl through the Wilderness and the very fire that had come done and passed through the animals in the covenant being made with Aḇraham. The fiery horses and chariots were symbols of יהוה’s supreme authority and power in battle – He is יהוה, יהוה of Hosts – the commander of the Heavenly Host! In those days chariots and horses were the highest means of warfare and יהוה was revealing unto Elisha that His power and might is superior and far greater than any military might. It was this very power that Elisha had seen demonstrated in the ministry of Ěliyahu and to which Elisha had valued and esteemed so highly:

Yeshayahu/Isaiah 31:1 “Woe to those who go down to Mitsrayim for help, and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but who do not look to the Set-apart One of Yisra’ĕl, nor seek יהוה!

Elisha knew where his help comes from!!! Can you picture this event in your minds – Ěliyahu is taken in the whirlwind, possibly with bolts of thunder and flashes of lightning, with a whole host of heavenly forces and Elisha gets to see all this and he cries out, “My father, my father, the chariot of Yisra’ĕl and its horsemen!”, and by this statement it shows that he regarded Ěliyahu as a powerful instrument whom יהוה had used to wage war against the idolatry in Yisra’ĕl and that Ěliyahu had been his predecessor in calling people back to יהוה – back to His Torah, which now Elisha would begin to do empowered by the Ruach of יהוה of Hosts! Elisha tore his clothes in mourning the great loss of a mighty warrior but now the mantle had been passed to Him and he would wear the cloak of Ěliyahu and would serve with the authority and power it symbolised!

As we think on this events as a ‘foreshadow’ of our Messiah and we see how He has clothed us from on High with great authority in His Name, we must recognise the wonder, privilege and responsibility of walking in His anointed and called authority and purpose in our lives! When יהושע was too taken up into the clouds while His Talmidim (disciples) looked on and after 10 days at Shavuot the Ruach was poured out as they were praying in the Temple – as the very fire of יהוה descended upon them and they went out in great power of the Ruach in the Name of יהושע, so too this event pictures or foreshadows this and shows us today that we who are called and are willing to go the whole way with our Saviour can and must walk under the anointing and power, under the mantle of righteousness in יהושע Messiah.

Elisha now began his journey back – and so he too took the cloak and struck the Yarděn, and now ‘pumped’ and equipped in great faith Elisha shouted out, “where is יהוה Elohim of Ěliyahu?’ and the Yarděn parted! When the sons of the prophets who were watching from a distance saw this they declared that the spirit of Ěliyahu now rested on Elisha and so witnessed this magnificent transferral of anointing by יהוה. Ěliyahu means “Yah is El” or “Elohim is Yahweh” and Elisha means “El is salvation” or “Saviour is Elohim”.

Elisha’s desire was certainly to serve יהוה and not his own comfort and flesh – he desired to walk in the spirit and we now that Sha’ul (Paul) tells us that if we are not to walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

As we think on the power and authority that Elisha went in we see a significant truth in what was recorded – according to what was recorded he seemingly performed twice the amount of miracles than Ěliyahu - the emphasis was not on being better and doing more but rather walking in the authority of his teacher and becoming like him honouring him by the continuation of the work that had begun. We know that יהושע tells us that His talmidim in

Yoḥanan/John 14:12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he shall do also. And greater works than these he shall do, because I go to My Father.

Ěliyahu went to the father and so Elisha would not only get to do what Ěliyahu had done but even greater things – showing the greatness of the Power of יהוה being given to those who will but believe and walk in that believe obediently!

From the accounts mentioned here, I am intrigued by the picture of our journey we walk daily in יהושע and how the 4 different places mentioned in this account of the travels of Ěliyahu and Elisha together carries great significance for us today as we assess our walk of obedience unto our Father.

I would like to briefly look at these four towns or cities and see what each one represents for us,

1 – GILGAL – THE PLACE OF BEGINNINGS

We see in verse 1 that this is where they went from. Gilgal in Scripture was very significant in its picture of new beginnings. This was the very place where upon entering in to the Promised Land all the males were circumcised and the Covenant was renewed which you can read of in Yehoshua (Joshua) 5. It was the place where they celebrated their first Pesaḥ (Passover). It was the first site of the Yisra’ĕlite camp west of the Yarděn and east of Yeriḥo. It was a dwelling place of prophets and the name means ‘wheel’ or ‘to roll’ as יהוה had rolled away the reproach of Mitsrayim from Yisra’ĕl!

2 – BEYTH ĚL – PLACE OF DREAMS

This means the House of Elohim. This is where Yaʽaqoḇ (Jacob) had stopped and slept for the night and dreamt of a ladder from earth to heaven and saw messengers of Elohim ascending and descending on it, and where יהוה gave him the promise of this land for him and his seed. When he awoke he realised what had happened and called what was formerly Luz, Bĕyth Ěl and set up a stone as a standing column for Elohim’s house – a wonderful picture of יהושע the Chief Cornerstone.

3 – YERIḤO – PLACE OF PAST VICTORIES

This was the first city they encountered and defeated after crossing the Yarděn – the very first victory in the Promised Land. This was a border town and to go beyond this was seen as going in to wild new territory.

4 – YARDEN – PLACE OF DEATH

The Yarděn River represented the boundary to the Promised Land and to pass over it meant to enter in to death and its name is significant of this as it means ‘descender’ as this river would descend down for a distance of around 320km toward the Dead Sea

Ok so now we have these four places of great interest to the application of the lessons from this chapter, but what are they? Well I believe that they can represent for us various key moments in our lives where we either choose to remain at or move on to greater things growing in obedience by faith.

Gilgal – new beginnings – we all start somewhere and yes we have all had ‘new beginnings’, especially in regards to our walk with יהושע – coming out of Mitsrayim and Babylon etc. Some people though never leave their Gilgal and end up spending their entire lives at their Gilgal, the place where their journey began and has never gone any further, unable to ‘grow’ past this place of beginnings. You see there is a temptation to remain here as it is easy, yet you never grow and all you do is drink the milk and never move on to the meat of the Word staying baby believer’s all lifelong!

Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 6:1-6 “Therefore, having left the word of the beginning of the Messiah, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of belief toward Elohim, 2 of the teaching of immersions, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of everlasting judgment. 3 And this we shall do, if Elohim indeed permits. 4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Set-apart Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good Word of Elohim and the powers of the age to come, 6 and fall away, to renew them again to repentance – having impaled for themselves the Son of Elohim again, and put Him to open shame.

There is a danger of not leaving your Gilgal – and that is to end up falling away being unable to be renewed to repentance.

Those who are dull of hearing – that is stubborn to hearing the Truth and walking in the fullness of it never move on to the meat of the Word, to their own detriment!

Iḇ’rim/Hebrews 5:12 “For indeed, although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first elements of the Words of Elohim. And you have become such as need milk and not solid food.

There are many today, who by now ought to have been teachers yet they have never left Gilgal so to speak and need milk all over again!

Bĕyth Ěl – place of dreams – Some leave Gilgal and so begin to step out in faith but get stuck at Bĕyth Ěl. What do I mean by this as there is certainly nothing wrong with the House of Elohim – for we would rather be a doorkeeper in the House of Elohim than the highest position the world could offer! What I mean here is that from understanding our journey of faith (a very narrow road), we find that many will catch the vision so to speak of what is to be done and they see the needs and feel the urging of the Ruach drawing them to so much more, yet never leave the place of dreaming about what they might do for יהוה one day! They sadly remain there and never step out and do what HE has called them to do and so in essence remain asleep – for a vision to become a reality one needs to ‘wake up’! Yaʽaqoḇ had to move on, Elisha was tempted to remain here, yet pressed on the road less travelled. Walking out the call of יהוה on your life is a lonely road, one that many struggle to do and so stay in the dream and never take another step of faith!

Yeriḥo – past victories – Some do venture on and wake up from there slumber until they get to Yeriḥo and stop as they reminisce on the ‘good old days’ and victories of the past that they lose sight of what lies ahead! There was a saying long time ago of those who fled from Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) as being known as ‘when we’s” as all they could do was talk about what had been and how successful the past was as they wallowed in the struggles of the present.

It is easy when going through tough times to quickly think back and try to turn a blind eye to the present and the faith required to move on and get stuck in the yesterday victories.  Looking back at victories is certainly not wrong as it reminds us of whom we serve and He is יהוה of Hosts, but often people get stuck in their yesterday’s and soon forget that the same Elohim who blessed them back then and delivered them back them is the same Elohim who desires to do the same today – to bless and deliver them. Yeriḥo also represented not only victories but also defeats, as just as Yeriḥo was the first victory in the Promised Land and certainly not the last, the very next battle – the battle against Ai they were defeated due to sin in the camp - Aḵan had taken that which was not allowed from Yeriḥo which resulted in a defeat of a nation in battle and losing 36 men as well as Aḵan and his family and his livestock being stoned. The next battle was victorious, so what we can see from Yeriḥo is that obedience will bring the victory and disobedience will bring defeat. You cannot rely on past victories to keep you victorious; walking in obedience will keep you victorious! So some have come this far in their journey and are stuck on how obedient they were in the past and have since wandered from the Truth, thinking that once saved always saved is the answer and it is not! Each one must work out their own salvation with fear and trembling – living in the past will keep you from moving forward in faith – yesterday’s faith is no good for today – fresh new faith as given through the fresh Bread of His Word daily will keep you walking in victory

Yarděn – place of death – there are few who come to this part of their journey in יהושע – we know that the 70 who did great things and marvelled at the authority they had in the Name of יהושע, yet when asked to eat of His flesh and drink of His Blood they turned away and only his 12 stood there willing to go on.  The Yarděn represents the barrier between self-life and the spirit life, between dying to self and living to Messiah or simply living for self! This is the barrier between flesh and spirit – a place where very few truly find themselves having counted the cost, dying to self and going all the way with Elohim.

Elisha didn’t remain at a distance; he went through the Yarděn, while 50 sons of prophets – prophets in training stood at a distance. Elisha alone, as a son of a prophet too, had the faith to cross over and go with Ěliyahu and so received a double portion!

As we look at this magnificent journey we must learn that we must not allow the opportunities to faithfully walk in the full obedience to יהושע to ‘settle down’ and become as dead along the way and so find our progress being hindered. But rather by faith in His Word we must press on and proceed in Him and watch as He the Elohim of Hosts removes those barriers from before our eyes!

Elisha stood steadfast in His commitment to walking in and following in the footsteps of his father Ěliyahu – 3 times he was tempted to pack it in and resolved not to stay behind. What stood as a barrier to receiving that which he desired – the Yarděn was no obstacle to his faith! And so we too must realise that obstacles will hit our path, those things that יהוה has permitted along the journey in order to test and mature us, and we can be steadfast in knowing as Sha’ul says in Romiyim/Romans 8:28יהוה works it all out for our good – we who are called according to His purpose!

As Elisha took his journey back he went back across the Yarděn doing what his father had done in striking the water and seeing it part, and went back to Yeriḥo and Bĕyth Ěl, all testimonies to the power of יהוה now operating in his life by faith, yet interestingly enough he did not go back to Gilgal on this trip, he went on to Mount Karmel and then to Shomeron. He didn’t go back to the beginning; he walked on in faith and remained committed to growing in the call on His life. He who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is not fit for the kingdom – Elisha was not only fit but faithfully fit for service.

Where are you at today? Have you taken the road least travelled – or have you found yourself having begun on this road yet found yourself stopping along the way at becoming stuck at one of these destinations? Life’s journey in יהוה calls for faithful endurance on the part of the set-apart ones. And I believe that many today still need to understand just what set-apart means – being totally set-apart is a road less travelled – will you commit today to walk the walk and talk the talk of our Master יהושע? Have you perhaps found yourself at one of these destinations – Gilgal – just have never moved on to maturity out of fear – or Bĕyth Ěl – you are still dreaming about what you want to do but have not woken up to His Truth – or Yeriḥo – living and relying on the past, yet failing in the present – or have you come to the Yarděn and died to self – this is a daily call. יהושע has clothed us in righteousness and we need to walk in that – walking daily in faith in steadfast obedience to His commands, even when everyone else is not.

Will you resolve not to stay in the milk, or in the dreams or in the past but move on up and become a daily living sacrifice equipped with power form on high to go on and do all He has prepared in advance for you to do. This is a call to keep walking in life’s journey taking the road less travelled!!!

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