2 Kings 2:9-12. 9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.” 10 And he said, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so.” 11 And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 And Elisha saw it and he cried, “My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw him no more.
Elijah’s angelic advent is one of the most unique in all of scripture. God’s angelic hosts of fire arrive to sweep him up to heaven in a whirlwind, never to be seen again (or so it seemed).
What a spectacular death, or should we say non-death?
And what an audacious request by Elisha – “Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.”
Elijah and Elisha show us what advent is all about – eternal life by and through the Spirit of God.
There is no doubt that Elijah’s non-death is special. But Christian, so is yours. Just as the advent of the chariots of fire meant Elijah would live forever, the advent of Christ means that we too will live forever. We too will be caught up in a whirlwind, escorted by heavenly hosts to the presence of God. Elijah’s experience is not unique. Everyone who believes in Christ is translated into his presence when they die. The chariots of fire and the whirlwind come for all who pass from this earthly realm to the heavenly throne room of God.
If you are in Christ, you can know this truth – you will be carried into the arms of your Savior by the angels to live in God’s forever embrace.
Saint Prophet Elias, Russian icon.
There is also no doubt that Elisha’s request is an audacious one. Elisha had boldly asked for a double portion of the spirit. The double portion was the inheritance of the oldest son. He received a greater inheritance than the other heirs. Christ is the “oldest son” who has shared his double portion with us. He has shared his life, his love, his blessings, his heritage, his universe, with us by his indwelling Spirit.
When Jesus rode down in the invisible chariots of fire as a baby born in a manger it paved the way for us to experience the non-death of Elijah and the double portion of Elisha. Our union with Christ’s death and resurrection means we will never die. but beyond this, we will live forever in the power of the Spirit of Christ. Christ’s ascension into heaven, like Elijah’s, released the Spirit upon the church. Christ’s “Elishas.” You and me. We are now the receivers of the double portion of Christ. All that is his is ours.
This changes everything for us. Because we have been given everything by Christ, we can give everything through Christ. We can live his sacrificial life. We can die his sacrificial death.
Like Elijah and Elisha, it is our co-resurrection with Christ that allows us live by the Spirit. It is our union with Christ that gives us the double portion of the Spirit. It is the Spirit of Christ that teaches us how to live. To live by dying. Why? Because we will never really die. Like Elijah, to die is to live and to live is to die. Like Christ, to face death is to face resurrection.
This is the truth that the Spirit pours into our hearts – Jesus’ advent into our life empowers our life of dying, because we know that we will never die.
How does the story of Elijah’s and Jesus’ non-death remove your fear of death? How does the truth of resurrection bring you the strength to sacrificially live and love today?