Why did Elisha replace Elijah and how did both characters impact the Bible?

Elijah and Elisha are two of the most well-known prophets of Israel. They both served in the northern kingdom of Israel. Elijah is first introduced in 1 Kings 17 as the prophet who predicted a three-year drought in the land. After being miraculously fed by ravens, he later stayed with a widow and her son, and that family experienced God’s supernatural provision of food.

After Elijah’s defeat of the prophets of Baal when he called down fire from heaven, the drought ended. Rain fell, and Elijah fled from the Queen Jezebel, who had vowed to kill him (1 Kings 19).

Reaching Mount Horeb, Elijah heard the voice of God tell him to anoint two kings as well as Elisha as a prophet. He did this, and Elisha immediately joined him (1 Kings 19:19–21).

Elijah later condemned King Ahab for murder and the theft of a vineyard and predicted Ahab’s death and that of his wife, Jezebel (1 Kings 21:17–24).

In 2 Kings 1, Elijah called down fire from heaven to destroy two groups of 50 men sent from King Ahaziah. A third group of men was led by a captain who begged for mercy and was spared judgment. Elijah went to Ahaziah and proclaimed the king would die from his sickness, a prophecy that was soon fulfilled.

In 2 Kings 2, Elijah and Elisha crossed the Jordan River on dry land, and Elisha, knowing that Elijah would not be with him much longer, asked to be blessed with a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. Elijah was taken directly into heaven by a whirlwind. Its an important distinction in this account that is often mis-represented as Elijah going up to heaven in a chariot and horses of fire.

The account states Elijah went up in a whirlwind, Not a chariot and horses of fire.

2 Kings 2:1

“And it came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal”.

Elisha would later ask God to reveal to Gehazi, (Elisha’s servant) a vision of Chariots and horses of fire.

“And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” 2Kings 6:17

The difference is substantial in that Satan copies God. In this context, Elisha was to become the most powerful prophet in the world having twice the power of Elijah. Satan’s interest in this moment was to prevent this manifestation and so he sent chariots of fire and horses of fire as a distraction to prevent Elisha from seeing Elijah go up in a whirlwind.

2 Kings 2:11

“And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven”.

Elisha picked up Elijah’s mantle, which was a robe and used it to cross the Jordan again on dry land. He received the double portion he had asked for and performed many miracles in Israel.

Some of Elisha’s miracles were the turning of bad water into clean water (2 Kings 2:19–22), causing a widow’s oil to fill many jars (2 Kings 4:1–7), and even raising a boy from the dead (2 Kings 4:32–37).

The anointing of God was IN Elisha not simply upon him, so much so that long after he was dead and in a grave, his bones when touched brought a dead man back to life.

2 Kings 13:21

“And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet”.

Before he was taken to heaven, Elijah left a letter for King Jehoram of Judah that spoke of judgment against him. It stated, in part, “Behold, with a great plague will the Lord smite thy people, and thy children, and thy wives, and all thy goods: And thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness day by day.” 2 Chronicles 21:14–15

The prophecy soon came true (verses 18–20).

Elijah and Elisha were both greatly respected by those in the “school of prophets” (2 Kings 2 and 4:38–41) as well as by the kings of their nation. Their impact led to revival among some of the Israelites during a dark stage of Israel's history. During the reigns of Ahab and Ahaziah, God had His men leading the charge for righteousness.

The question of who the two witnesses are in Revelation 11 during the tribulation has been asked for thousands of years, ever since John wrote the account. Who they actually are, as my educated guess would be Elijah and Enoch. Why?

“And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” Hebrews 9:27

Elijah and Enoch are the only people to have never died, according to scripture.

“And Enoch walked with God and he was not, for God took him” Genesis 5:24

“By faith, Enoch was translated that he should not see death and was not found, because God had translated him” Hebrews 11:5

The word translated in Greek is “Metatithemi” meaning transport, to change sides, remove, change.

“Behold there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire and parted them both asunder and Elijah went up in a whirlwind into Heaven”

2 Kings 2:11

On this basis, it suggests to me, that the two witnesses are Elijah and Enoch, not Elijah and Moses as many believe, which is solely based on his appearance at the transfiguration. Matthew 17:1–8

Elijah and Elisha’s combined legacy continued to influence Israel for some time.

The New Testament speaks of the expected return of Elijah, a role fulfilled by John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, the one to announce the coming of the Messiah (Mark 1).

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© Tony - W.A.M