Transfiguration Sunday (Feb 11th)

Pastor's Summary of 2 Kings 2:1-12

Isreal has split into two kingdoms: Israel (the north) and Judah (the south). At the time of our story (850-849 BC), Ahaziah is King of Israel. the Bible tells us of only two people were sufficiently worthy to be taken up to heaven, without dying: Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah, Elijah and Elisha start their journey at Gilgal, in the hill country north of Bethel. three times Elijah invites Elisha to travel no further: he tests Elisha, to determine whether he is truly loyal  to his master. Each time, Elisha proves his loyalty, and so the two travel southward from Gilgal to Bethel, then east to Jericho and the Jordan. The company of prophets are communities of followers, disciples, of Elijah; they are like monks.

Elijah's mantel, his cloak, is almost part of him. As in the crossing of the Reed Sea (see Exodus 14) and the carrying of the Ark across the Jordan (Joshua 3:14-17), the waters part. In v. 9, Elijah offers Elisha a reward for his loyalty: then Elisha requests that he receive the principal ("Double") share of Elijah's spirituality. (Deuteronomy requires that the eldest son inherit a double portion of his father's possessions.) Elijah cannot grant this request himself, for it is God's to give. If Elisha sees Elijah taken up, God will grant the wish. As Elijah is being taken up Elisha calls out "Father" and mentions the chariots of God and his horsemen. Perhaps Elisha contrasts the chariots of God (v. 11) with those of Israel; perhaps Elisha recognizes that Elijah's spiritual strength is better security for Israel than its army. Elisha does see Elijah's departure. He tears his clothes as an expression of grief he feels. Elisha picks up Elijah's mantle, the symbol of spirituality. Elisha upon the departure of Elijah is his successor.