People are flying around in the air, there are clouds and lightning and chariots of fire and prophets appearing and disappearing—it’s very Hollywood.
But the truth is that these stories are really about human relationships, and they have a lot to teach us about God and ourselves.
The story of Elijah’s departure from earth, taken up to heaven as Elisha watches, is incredibly poignant, partly because of the events leading up to it.
This is a long and drawn out departure.
They travel together from Gilgal to Bethel to Jericho to the banks of the Jordan River—all powerfully symbolic locations for the people of Israel, and probably places Elijah and Elisha had traveled together to many times before in their prophetic partnership.
They weren’t alone.
The company of the other prophets was with them, and they kept asking Elisha over and over again, “Do you know that today the LORD will take your master away from you?”
And Elisha replies, “Yes, I know. Keep silent.”
Elisha doesn’t want to hear it, hates the truth he has to admit that his beloved teacher and friend is about to leave him forever.
We don’t know what the tone of the company of prophets was.
They could have been mocking Elisha, taunting him about his pain.
Or they could simply have been trying to get through to a friend, seeing that he was in denial about what was coming and trying to prepare him for reality.
This gets to the heart of the human truth of this story: it is so hard to say goodbye to someone we love. Continue reading