ELIJAH AND ELISHA... IRON SHARPENED IRON
Elijah had been training young men to become prophets. Perhaps the 100 that had been hidden in the cave by Obadiah were his students. Perhaps the events on Mt. Carmel had challenged some more to follow God. Elijah was a teacher. Elisha was one of his prime students.
Elijah and Elisha traveled some together, sharing the mantle in the times of inclement weather, walking the same path. The 'iron sharpening iron' effect was working with these two. They both loved God, they both were in tune with what God was doing. Elijah walked his last trip stopping at different locales where others that were sharpening their 'iron' with Elijah were in their schools.
Not all ones the need to sharpen their iron upon a fellow disciple are alike. Many of Elijah's students were not ready for this final lesson of iron sharpening. What if 100 of his students had been ready for this last blade sharpening lesson???!!! Can you imagine 100 Elisha's in that day!!!
Elijah preached a final lesson of iron sharpening iron to a prepared Elisha, and the 'double portion' was Elisha's sharpening, a rapture to heaven to await a final return to minister during part of the tribulation was Elijah's sharpened blessing. In 'iron sharpening iron' there is double blessing, one for each participant in the event of sharpening.
Only two, i.e. Elijah and Elisha, were ready for this iron sharpening iron lesson that day. in Elijah's school was ready.
FAILURE OF THE SHARPENING ON THOSE PROPHETS AT GILGAL
II Kings 2:2
"TARRY HERE (at Gilgal) I PRAY THEE, FOR THE LORD HATH SENT ME TO BETHEL...I WOULD NOT LEAVE THEE."
Gilgal represents the place of "easy Christian living." Many will not move on from that place. Too many Christians say, "It is enough to be a pew sitter, and occasionally encourage the pastor with an 'amen.'" Church attendance alone is not too hard. It does not require much dedication, or suffering. Spiritual warfare is out of the question for these "at Gilgal." Their only hope is for the rapture, if they can just hang on till it comes.
These ones at Gilgal were told to stay, not follow, and they were not eager enough to question, to ask for more than a visit from the 'iron sharpener' Elijah. He told them to stay, they willingly accepted. It was a test of their zeal, a test of their anxiousness to be sharpened more. They failed the test, and received only a short visit, when they could have gotten a double blessing if they had had the zeal of Elisha. They could have viewed the rapture of Elijah, they could have been greatly blessed, but ehy were 'pew sitters'.
Elisha learned this lesson well, for he refused to stay and have an easy life. He wanted more, and he knew that he had to stay near Elijah to get what his heart desired. Only one followed from Gilgal to go further with a fellow iron sharpener, i.e. Elijah.
The prophets at BETHEL also failed. They knew from revelation of God that something great was about to happen, so they were spiritually aware. Yet, they were not so desirous as was Elisha, for when told to stay, they did. They had revelation from God and that was enough for them. It was not enough for Elisha, his sharpening was not finished, he wanted more.
II Kings 2:3-4
"TARRY HERE I PRAY THEE...AS THE LORD LIVETH, I WILL NOT..."
Since the "sons of the prophets" at Bethel knew that Elijah was to be raptured on that day, it was obvious that they had spiritual awareness. But a bit more iron sharpening would have been a blessing far greater.
The word - "Bethel" means "house of God." Bethel speaks of dedication and devotion, and sharing the presence of God. Some Christians come to this place. It is a wonderful place to come, leaving the uninvolvement of "Gilgal."
Like Peter on the Mt. of Transfiguration, the place of blessing and revelation is wonderful to experience. Peter didn't want to go down. He wanted to stay at the top and experience such blessings forever. It is tempting for many of us today also. We never have our iron sharpened enough, and God wants us to continue on and on, higher and higher into His 'sharpened' blessings.
We are brought by the Lord to places of blessing. We enjoy these places. There is revelation from God there. There is joy. There is required more dedication by us in order for us to get to these places.
The ones who heeded the tendency to stay at Gilgal, miss these places as at Bethel. Once at Bethel, it is hard to want to leave. Elisha realized there's even more iron sharpening beyond this -- and he wanted more sharpened.
THE ONES AT JERICHO WERE ACCUSTOMED TO SPIRITUAL WARFARE.
II Kings 2:4
"LORD HATH SENT ME TO JERICHO..."
Jericho represents the place of spiritual warfare. Jericho was a city where many of the priests lived. Winding, dangerous roads led to this city. As people traveled to this city, they would pass the most dangerous criminal element in Israel. Getting to Jericho was very dangerous. Fighting spirit powers of evil is not eagerly desired by many.
This place is definitely beyond the experience of Gilgal (minimum Christianity), and even beyond the experience at Bethel (places of blessing and revelation). Yet, in spiritual warfare are the greatest victories and rewards. To omit the battles, omits the victories. Most of these battles are private, hard, lonely, and agonizing. There is no glamour here. There are no long lines of Christians trying to get into this experience.
Notice - the "sons of the prophets" that were here also knew of Elijah's destiny (II Kings 2:5). There is spiritual awareness and revelation for those who live in the dangerous districts as Jericho. These "sons of the prophets" that dwell in Jericho have daily battles, and dangers. God is near to them in revelation power. Yet Elisha wanted even more than this. He would not stop here.
Elisha would not stay behind, would not be satisfied with just being one of the spiritual warriors, but wanted far more... so he said to Elijah:
II Kings 2:6"I WILL NOT LEAVE THEE..."
The next step into further iron sharpening iron blessing, came at JORDAN.
II Kings 2:6
"THE LORD HATH SENT ME TO JORDAN..."
Jordan speaks of death --death of the self life. Jordan was a dangerous and swift flowing river during the rainy season. It was hard and could sweep away all one's possessions as he crossed. It took courage and willingness to part with all "heavy" things. We must all come to a place where we dedicate ourselves to a selfless life. We must die to self, give up seeking things for ourselves, and begin to live a life of faith.
Notice- II Kings 2:7-8:
"FIFTY MEN OF THE SONS OF THE PROPHETS WENT AND STOOD TO VIEW AFAR OFF."
Many watch and want this fruitfulness that crossing Jordan can bring, but few will pay the price to reach it. But Elisha would not stay back with the 50 others. He went to the Jordan, and when Elijah parted the waters-- Elisha went across. It is at this point of sanctification, and selflessness that miracle power is present. The fifty that followed afar off got to see this miraculous power, but were too far away to benefit from it.
There are many 'followers' who like to 'follow afar off', and they miss some of the final 'sharpening' blessings, due to their hanging back with the crowd.
Finally, there comes a MANTLE-reception sharpening.
Now on the other side of Jordan, Elijah gives Elisha a request.
II Kings 2:9
"ASK WHAT I SHALL DO FOR THEE...
I PRAY THEE, A DOUBLE PORTION OF THY SPIRIT BE UPON ME..."
For about 10 years, Elisha had listened to Elijah. Now, this last iron sharpening iron lesson was to be the final one. Elisha wanted far more than he had received in all those ten previous years... He was sharpened daily with Elijah, but he was not going to be satisfied with just getting equal to Elijah, he wanted a double portion.
Elijah iron sharpening on Elisha had brought him to a place of great potential. Here was a chance to receive a double portion of what Elijah had. All he had to do was be present when Elijah would be raptured. Then Elijah would throw Elisha the mantle that he carried, and Elisha then would receive double the spiritual blessings of Elijah.
The mantle, like the one Elijah carried, was often shared by two people. It was large enough to wrap around two people as they sat, or walked, to keep warm. It represented fellowship- fellowship with God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
When we get to the "mantle" sharpening, we have the "double portion." It is not how much of the Spirit do we have, but how much of us does the Spirit have. The mantle sharpening comes only after crossing "Jordan" and leaving all the heavy possessions of life behind. We must be dead to selves, and things -- to come into close fellowship with the Lord.
When Elisha caught the mantle, it was like us coming into the place where we walk in fellowship with the Spirit daily. This is where we receive the double portion sharpening, with the fellowship and communion of the Lord.
What a final iron sharpening iron event for these two prophets. If only we would also listen to it and heed it. We need to be doers of the Word, and not hearers only.
Have you left Gilgal sharpened state(minimum Christianity)?
Have you gone to the Bethel sharpened event (blessings, fellowship)?
Have you ventured into the Jericho sharpened state (spiritual battle with the enemy)?
Have you come to Jordan sharpened place (the selfless life)?
Then have you desired even more beyond all these and insisted on a "double portion" sharpening???
Elisha was only one of the "sons of the prophets." Yet he was the only one who ventured to stay beside Elijah till Elijah's rapture. He knew a blessing was about to be seen, and he wanted to experience all of it. Do we have that kind of determination in our receiving and helping another in the iron sharpening iron?