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Lesson 6: Elijah's and Elisha's Mantle *

Introduction: Do you remember the video game Donkey Kong? Although it has been a very long time since I've played a video game, I still recall trying to maneuver Mario up the series of inclines. We would be making great progress, and then suddenly get run over by a series of barrels or other hazards and find ourselves back at the bottom. Is your spiritual life a lot like that? Great progress followed by a great fall? Small progress followed by a small fall? Our study this week is Elijah, a man who would grasp the principles of Donkey Kong. Let's leap into our study of the Bible!

  1. The Fall

    1. Read 1 Kings 19:1. What story did Ahab have to tell? (If you review 1 Kings 18 you will learn that Elijah challenged Ahab and the prophets of Baal to a duel in front of all of the people. The challenge was to see who could bring down fire on the mountain: the 850 false prophets and their gods or Elijah and his God? Elijah's God won, and Elijah killed hundreds of the false prophets. It was quite the story.)

    2. Read 1 Kings 19:2. How wise is this response?

      1. Exactly which "gods" was Jezebel referencing? (This is an arrogant and audacious response. Elijah's God won the duel and hundreds of the prophets of the defeated gods were killed. Jezebel should have been hiding under her bed in fear of the true God.)

    3. Read 1 Kings 19:3-5. If you were God, how would you react to Jezebel and Elijah?

      1. Since Jezebel invoked the fear of the gods, why not just zap her?

      2. Why does Elijah pray that he might die?

      3. If he wants to die, it would be logical to march on Jezebel's palace! How should God react to foolish rebellion (Jezebel) and foolish fear (Elijah)?

      4. Have you an excuse for Elijah? (Killing all those prophets probably had an emotional impact on him. The stress of the duel had an impact on his emotions. He is just tired, stressed and depressed.)

      5. Is it true that he does not deserve the prophet's mantel? That he is no better than his ancestors? (Up until the fear, he was one of the greatest warriors for God of all time. He is the human face of God's forces.)

    4. Read 1 Kings 19:5-6. Elijah let God down. How does God react? (He doesn't fire Elijah. He sends help. What a great God we have!)

    5. Read 1 Kings 19:7-8. Why is an angel helping Elijah to run away?

      1. Why not slap him, point him back towards Jezebel, and say "The battle is back there. Quit running the wrong way."

    6. Read 1 Kings 19:9-10. Why do the angel and God seem to have different responses? (God loves us and cares for us, but He also challenges us when we are unfaithful.)

      1. What is Elijah's excuse? Is he blaming God? (He believes that he is alone. God needs to get some more supporters.)

        1. Is this true? (It was not true when fire came down on the mountain.)

        2. Have these words come from your mouth when you thought you needed others to help carrying all of God's work?

        3. Is it "okay" for a great prophet of God to think and speak like this?

  2. God and the Fall

    1. Read 1 Kings 19:11-13. Elijah complains that he is alone and whipped. God says that Elijah should watch a parade in which God will be the Grand Marshal. What is God's point in this? (God controls the forces of nature.)

      1. Is that a new lesson for Elijah? (No. The dispute which brought about the fire duel was that the people were worshiping Baal (a fertility god), and God brought a drought upon the land.)

        1. If the lesson is not new, why does God repeat it? (How many times do you need God to repeat His lessons to you?)

      2. What does it mean that God is not in these powerful forces of nature?

    2. Notice that God repeats his "What are you doing here" question to Elijah at the end of the parade. Why?

      1. Is God in the gentle whisper? (Yes. The point is that God controls the forces of nature, but He does not control His servants!)

      2. Why would Elijah cover his face with his mantle in the face of the whisper, but not when rocks were flying around? (He realized the true power of God.)

    3. Read 1 Kings 19:14. Should Elijah have repeated his same old answer? (It does not seem to be nearly as good an answer after this show of power.)

      1. What answer do you think God wanted? ("Sorry to let you down, I don't know what I was thinking about, I'll go back and confront Jezebel.")

    4. Read 1 Kings 19:15-18. Put yourself in God's place. What would you say to Elijah at this point? Would you fire him now?

      1. Did God fire Elijah?(He put him on a retirement plan. God tells Elijah that he will appoint Elijah's successor.)

      2. Would you advise telling God that you want to quit?

    5. Read the first part of 1 Kings 19:19. Is this significant? (Yes. Elijah may be saying the wrong things, but he goes where God directs. He chooses God and not death.)

    6. Read 1 Kings 19:19-21 and Numbers 20:23-29. What is the significance of Elijah placing his mantle on Elisha? (It is a sign of the passing of authority.)

      1. Was it important that it Elijah just threw his mantle around Elisha, as opposed to giving him all of his clothes? (Unlike Aaron, God was not immediately replacing Elijah. Instead, Elisha served as Elijah's assistant for some time.)

    7. Contemplate this sequence for just a minute. If you were God, would you have immediately replaced Elijah for his failure of faith?

      1. Did Elijah's replacement have more to do with Elijah saying "I want to quit," or his failure of faith?

      2. How do you compare this with Aaron, who did not seem to want to be replaced? (Aaron had been involved in serious sins several times. Elijah was very discouraged - but he decided to take the path of God. God gave Elijah an assistant to help lift his load. It would have been better for Elijah to have prayed for an assistant, not death.)

  3. The Reward

    1. Read 2 Kings 2:1-3 and Genesis 5:23-24. What do you think the prophets thought was going to happen to Elijah?

      1. What do you think Elisha thought was going to happen? (He did not want to talk about it. Not since Enoch had anyone been translated, so I suppose he thought Elijah was going to die that day.)

      2. Jump ahead and read 2 Kings 2:16-17. This reveals that the prophets had no idea that Elijah was going to be taken to heaven. They must have thought he was going to die.)

    2. Read 2 Kings 2:7-10. Why is this a difficult thing? (Elisha is asking Elijah to control God.)

      1. What do you think about Elijah's "let's see answer?" (Elijah left it with God.)

      2. Have you ever asked God for something simple - like helping you find your keys - and felt guilty because others were asking Him to cure them from cancer?

        1. What does this "slap the water and it divides" suggest about the power of God? (God's power is available for small things and large things. It is not as if God's power used to help you find your keys deprives the person with cancer from His power.)

    3. Read 2 Kings 2:11-12. Think back to when Elijah was discouraged and wanted to quit and die. I think the prophets thought this would be the day of his death. What does this say about the love of our God? (He gives us life, not death! What amazing love!)

    4. Recall that God challenged Elijah on what he was doing. Is this the fellow you would reward by taking directly to heaven? (God knows we are weak humans. Elijah had a great partnership with God. After his "fall," he got back on the right path and continued to serve God faithfully. What a generous God we have!)

      1. Notice again 2 Kings 2:12. Is Elisha so excited that he is speaking nonsense? Is he seeing soldiers? (What Elisha says is very important. A Spirit-filled person is more powerful than a first-class army.)

    5. Read 2 Kings 2:13-15. Elisha takes up the mantel and tore up his old clothes. What does this symbolize? (The prophets said it - God's Spirit is now on Elisha.)

    6. Friend, do you feel as if you fail God at times? God not only loves you, but He offers you the greatest power to advance the Kingdom of God - the power of His Holy Spirit. Will you pray today to be given that power?

  4. Next week: In the Shadow of His Wings.
* Copr. 2011, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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