By Barbie Breathitt
Christlikeness From the Life of Elisha: Tests and Double Mantle
Tests and a Double Mantle
After Elijah trained his servant Elisha to look and see, listen and hear, and prophesy the word of the Lord, it was time for him to return to Heaven. The heavenly chariot of God carried Elijah away from Elisha into the spiritual expanse of Heaven’s eternity outside of time. Elisha was told by Elijah, “If you see me when I am taken from you, [you will receive a double portion of my spirit]…”
Elisha had to pass many tests and persevere in order to walk in Elijah’s double mantle (see 2 Kings 2:1-18). Elijah asked Elisha to stay in Gilgal, the place of cutting, circumcision, and the rolling away of reproach, but he refused. This is a picture for us that when God removes our past failures and reproach, we must walk through the gates of authority into the new place with God; and so Elijah then moved on to Bethel, the place or house of God, the gates of Heaven. Bethel was a place where people went to seek counsel from God. Elisha followed Elijah to Bethel to learn how to obtain God’s counsel.
We must follow the leading of the Holy Spirit to the next place of testing to progress spiritually. We cannot remain complacent or stagnant; the river of God always flows.
Next, the sons of the prophets came to Elisha in Bethel and said, “Do you know that the Lord will take away your master from over you today?’ And Elisha said, “Yes I know; be still!” Elijah told Elisha to remain in Bethel while he went on to Jericho. But Elisha said, “I will not leave you” (2 Kings 2:3 NASB).
The sons of the prophets in Jericho, a place of fragrance and warfare, had also been shown that Elijah was going to be taken away from Elisha that day.
From Jericho, Elijah and Elisha traveled on to Jordan, a place of flowing down or descending, where fifty men of the sons of the prophets stood opposite them at the Jordan River. Elijah took his mantle, folded it together, and struck the waters of the Jordan, which divided, allowing both prophets to cross over on dry ground.
When they had crossed over, 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.” He said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.” As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to Heaven. Elisha saw it [the chariot] and cried out, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw Elijah no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. 2 Kings 2:9-12 NASB
However, Elijah did not hand his mantle onto Elisha; Elisha had to pick it up after Elijah was taken into Heaven.
What Was the Significance of Elijah’s Mantle For Elisha?
The word mantle in Hebrew is addereth; its root word being adar, which is also the word for the last month on the Hebrew calendar. The month of Adar is the best time to remove any personal barriers to holiness, thus it is a time to create the potential for the greatest joy. Adar is the final month of the year, i.e. it completes the year, and hence it is a time of completion.The root meaning of adar is glorious, splendid, marvelous, and mighty. In a noun form it is rendered as a cloak or mantle.
He also took up the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and returned and stood by the bank of the Jordan. He took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and struck the waters and said, “Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the waters, they were divided here and there; and Elisha crossed over. 2 Kings 2:13-14 NASB
Jewish traditions indicate that the mantle that fell from Elijah was a tallith or prayer shawl. The tallith of a prophet or master teacher would have dark purple-blue threads in the corner tassel. People believed that the purple thread contained miracle power. This is why the woman with the issue of blood wanted to touch the hem of Jesus’ tallith or garment. When she was healed, Jesus said, “Who touched Me?…I felt virtue leave Me.” Then He told her, “Your faith has made you whole,” not a purple thread (see Matthew 9:20-22 and Luke 8:43-48).
Elijah’s tallith, mantle, or “adar” symbolized that Elisha had removed any barriers to his relationship with God. He was no longer the servant but now stepped into the place of the prophet he had served. Elijah’s mantle was a doorway to God’s power. Elijah told Elisha that if he saw him taken, he would have his desire to carry on the prophetic ministry with a double portion of his spirit.
The mantle is a symbol of joy and completion. Elijah left his mantle as a sign that he had completed his assignment. Elisha picked up Elijah’s mantle indicating the start of a new year; he was picking up where Elijah left off and beginning his own ministry as a prophet. Elijah’s mantle was a symbol of an agreement of power and authority between Elijah and God. Elisha’s picking up Elijah’s mantle symbolized that he was entering into the same agreement with God. When Elisha used Elijah’s mantle to part the Jordan River, God established His agreement or covenant with Elisha.
What The Double Portion Looks Like
Everyone is at a different level of hearing and seeing in their spiritual understanding. Elisha had walked and been personally trained by Elijah for years. He had been tested and tried in spiritual disciplines. The sons of the prophets had been through training as well, yet they did not possess the level of seeing that Elisha had developed. Elisha saw the chariot of fire and the horses come to separate him from Elijah. He cried out, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” (2 Kings 2:12 NASB).
The sons of the prophets only saw the whirlwind the chariot created. The sons of the prophets were left wondering if Elijah had been translated to Heaven or if he had possibly been transported to another geographic location. They had to search for three days in the natural to come into peace. Elisha knew Elijah had been taken to Heaven because he saw beyond the natural into the invisible realm of the Spirit.
Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho opposite him saw him, they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” And they came to meet him and bowed themselves to the ground before him. They said to him, “Behold now, there are with your servants fifty strong men, please let them go and search for your master; perhaps the Spirit of the Lord has taken him up and cast him on some mountain or into some valley.” And he said, “You shall not send.” But when they urged him until he was ashamed, he said, “Send.” They sent therefore fifty men; and they searched three days but did not find him. They returned to him while he was staying at Jericho; and he said to them, “Did I not say to you, ‘Do not go’?” 2 Kings 2:15-18 NASB
The New Testament shares an example of the audible voice of God speaking from Heaven when Jesus foretold of His death. Some that stood by didn’t hear anything. Others who were present in the crowd heard God’s voice manifested in thunder, while still others thought it was an angel.
So the crowd of people who stood by and heard it were saying that it had thundered; others were saying, “An angel has spoken to Him.” Jesus answered and said, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes.” John 12:29-30 NASB
The names of both Elijah (meaning “the Lord is my God” or spiritual champion) and Elisha (meaning “God will save me” or protected) carries the record of what they represent, but not necessarily how they saw, if they are thought to be seers. Elijah’s name means God is Jehovah or YHVH is my God. He functioned as the Father’s recorder on earth.
In the case of God’s servant Elijah, the chariot was a trans-dimensional carrier of God’s servant. The chariot of God transported Elijah out of time into the eternal realm where Elijah had always existed in heavenly places. When the fullness of time came, God reached down to retrieve the recording of Himself He had placed within Elijah.
Elijah came to restore all things back to God. He was called to turn the hearts of the Fathers back to the sons, and to turn the sons’ hearts back to the fathers’, to make ready a people for God lest God curse the earth (see Malachi 4). Elijah’s anointing was to restore righteousness and protect the earthly realm from being struck with a curse caused by sin.
Elisha’s name means “GOD is salvation” or “My God is salvation.” He functioned under a double portion of Elijah’s spirit.
Walk Like the Prophet Elisha
Elisha’s eyes saw beyond the veil of the natural into the supernatural realm where God’s army of fiery angels and chariots reside. His eyes were not limited by situations or hard facts. He knew to look beyond the natural to see God’s provision. He trusted more in the realm of faith than what seemed to appear in the natural.
When fear blinded Elisha’s servant, the prophet’s prayer was able to open the attendant’s spiritually blind eyes to see the coexisting spiritual realms of angels. Knowing that there are more for us than against us brings a peace beyond our present understanding.
Prayer delivers us from fear. Prayer opens our eyes to see God’s ever-present answer, while at the same time prophetic decree will blind our enemies and place them at our mercy. For God to trust us at this level, it requires us to develop greater levels of obedience of compassion. God wants to trust us with the lives of our enemies. God tests and tries us until He knows that we will not execute our own judgment or harm people in any way.
When God delivers our enemies into our hands, we must return good for evil, blessing for cursing, and lovingkindness for abuse. The Lord is the only one who should ever move in judgment. He said, “Vengeance is Mine.” We have no right to be vengeful. It is God’s place to vindicate us.
We are called to love our enemies, to be kind to those who persecute, use, and abuse our kindness. We should lead our enemies to salvation, and their eyes will be opened to God’s saving word, loving spirit, and grace. It is time to love like God loves; see like God sees; obey what God’s Word says, and then do what God does.
Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:15-17 NASB
When Elisha’s enemies came down off the mountain to pursue him, Elisha prayed. We should follow his example. Elisha’s prayers struck his enemies with blindness. This removed the enemy’s power and control. They were forced into a vulnerable place, wandering in darkness and confusion. The army had come to do the prophet great harm, but God protected him. The prophet placed his trust in God. In this new state of total dependence and humiliation, the enemy had to trust and blindly follow Elisha to Samaria. Elisha said, “Follow me and I will bring you to the man whom you seek” (2 Kings 6:19 NASB). (Photo courtesy: Global Recordings Network)
When they came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Strike this people with blindness, I pray.” So He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha. Then Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, nor is this the city; follow me and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” And he brought them to Samaria. 2 Kings 6:18-19 NASB
Elisha’s enemies had to walk through the process of trusting the one they were sent to destroy. Once they arrived at the promised location, Elisha prayed that God would reopen their blind eyes. Their vision was restored. New vision was given in the midst of their enemies.
When they had come into Samaria, Elisha said, “O Lord, open the eyes of these men, that they may see.” So the Lord opened their eyes and they saw; and behold, they were in the midst of Samaria. 2 Kings 6:20 NASB
Many of us have been wounded by an enemy or betrayed by a close friend, but we are to respond to them with God’s lovingkindness and compassion.
Then the king of Israel when he saw them, said to Elisha, “My father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill them?” He answered, “You shall not kill them. Would you kill those you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow?…2 Kings 6:21-22 NASB
Elisha told the King of Israel to respond according to the greatness of God’s loving-kindness, to make his enemies the objects of compassion in the presence of all their captors. Elisha encouraged the king to feed the Arameans, to provide for and care for his enemies instead of killing them. The king prepared a feast for the enemy soldiers and they ate to their fill.
“…Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink and go to their master.” So he prepared a great feast for them; and when they had eaten and drunk he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the marauding bands of Arameans did not come again into the land of Israel. 2 Kings 6:22-23 NASB
Elisha’s mercy triumphed over judgment. Great grace leads us to victory. The King of Israel’s enemies were delivered into his hands. The King was eager to execute judgment and destroy his enemies, but the prophet carefully redirected his focus to blessing and not destruction.
Good will always triumph over evil. Love will also bring forth a better result than hate. Never greet your enemy in the same malignant spirit. Never return evil for evil but learn to bless instead of curse. We are not of this world, so we cannot respond in the spirit of this world. God is love so we must respond in the power of His might.
Barbie L. Breathitt Ph.D.
Breath of the Spirit Ministries