Second Kings 2 contains one of the most spectacular passages in all of the Old Testament. This chapter tells the miraculous story of the aging prophet Elijah and his servant Elisha. When we pick up the narrative, God had informed Elijah that his ministry on earth was over. Now he was to cross the Jordan River and go to a certain place where a heavenly chariot would pick him up and translate him to glory.
When Elijah and Elisha reached their destination, Elijah turned to his servant and said: “Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee” (verse 9). Without hesitation, the younger man answered, “I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me” (same verse).
At first glance, Elijah appeared surprised by Elisha's response, saying, “Thou hast asked a hard thing” (verse 10). But Elijah went on to instruct Elisha that he must watch carefully what God was about to do so that he would not miss it and go home disappointed.
As the men walked along, suddenly a chariot appeared out of heaven and separated them. In a flash, Elijah was taken up in the chariot—and Elisha witnessed the whole scene! He cried out, "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces” (verse 12).
Elijah was gone but his mantle had dropped to the ground. When Elisha saw it, he ripped off his own clothes, tore them into pieces and placed Elijah’s mantle on his back. And when he returned to the Jordan, he removed the mantle and struck the water with it, just as his master had done. Immediately the waters parted, and Elisha walked over on dry ground. Thus began the young prophet’s own remarkable ministry.
The events in this chapter are absolutely incredible. Yet what does this passage have to say to us today? I believe God has given us an unmistakable lesson here, with a clear, simple meaning: God wants to do greater things with each succeeding generation. And each new generation must seek the Lord for its own experience of the Holy Spirit and its own imbuing of power from Him.