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Day 166 (June 15): Whirlwind takes Elijah, Double spirit for Elisha, starts miracles — saves widow’s sons, helps woman’s son, feeds thousands

Elijah and Elisha God takes Elijah to heaven in a chariot of fire. Elisha is only witness.
Sweet Publishing / FreeBibleimages.org

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
2 Kings 2
2 Kings 4
(851-849 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Kings 2:1-6): How far is it from Bethel to Jericho to the Jordan River?  Could Elijah and Elisha made it to all three places in one day?

A. Don’t forget they started in Gilgal, so they didn’t even start in Bethel.  The notes that I have say that this is a total journey of between 25 and 30 miles.  That’s a long way, but not outside the realm of possibility.  My notes also say that we tend to assume, but it doesn’t say, that they walked the entire distance.  They might have had transportation for some portion of the trip.

Q. (2:9-10): Is Elisha being greedy here, asking for a double share of Elijah’s spirit?  Elijah said it would be a difficult thing to get.

A. Apparently God didn’t think so, because He granted the request, as confirmed with the cloak parting the Jordan.

Q. (2:17): Is Elisha showing weakness here by allowing the men to go search for Elijah?  Apparently Elisha was the only one that witnessed Elijah going up in the chariot?

A. I think he just wanted to stop hearing about it, he knew Elijah was gone, but couldn’t convince his companions until they couldn’t find him on their own.  The story implies Elisha was the only one to see Elijah being taken.

Q. (2:24): I would think that a more proper response for this situation would be for Elisha to influence the youth in a positive way without having them killed.  They are youth and kind of expected to make unwise choices, but instruction could set them straight.  But I am not a prophet.

A. The cultural gist of the insult, calling him “bald,” that the boys/young men use — and, by the way, these aren’t children we’re talking about here — is that Elisha is diseased and unclean.  That is most likely why he cursed them.  I’m not really clear on why he reacts the way he does either, but, as you said, he is a man of God.

O. (4:8-37): The faith of the woman from Shunem is strong and true!

Q. (4:42-44): This story mirrors Jesus feeding the 5,000 with fish and bread.  The olive oil story (4:1-7) is also used at least one more time.  Is there some message the authors intended for readers today with the repetition of these stories, like “God WILL provide?”

A. While the idea of God’s provision is a major theme of Scripture — think of the manna and water in the Exodus — these texts were not written with “modern” audiences in mind at all.  They were written to tell the history of the Jewish people, including the fact that God was indeed faithful, to future generations of Jews.  We are “eavesdropping,” if you will, on that conversation.  One of the ways that this occurs, however, is that the Spirit of God works in the hearts of people today to remind them of things that we can learn by studying books like Kings.  So there can be great benefit to us, even if it wasn’t “for” us.

As to the stories matching with things in the Gospels, that is not a coincidence.  One of the things that Jesus taught his followers is that He was, and is, the fulfillment of the Law, associated with Moses, and the Prophets — including Elijah and Elisha (refer to Matthew 11:13 and Luke 16:16).  So it is no surprise to me that the Gospel writers would share with their audience places where they saw Jesus doing things that Moses — trials in the wilderness in Matthew 4 — or the Prophets did — like feeding people where there didn’t seem to be enough food in Mark 6.  Part of that is emphasis, but part of it also is that understanding in the NT that Jesus is the fulfillment of all the best of the old way — the OT —  while establishing the NEW one.

For further study
— Why did God take Elijah straight up to heaven? https://www.gotquestions.org/Enoch-Elijah.html
— How does Jesus fulfill the Old Testament prophecies? https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/fulfillment-law
https://www.cslewisinstitute.org/resources/did-jesus-fulfill-old-testament-prophecies-of-a-coming-messiah/

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Tomorrow’s reading: 2 Kings 5-8:15

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