We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.”
And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel.
Elijah made the visitation of the schools of the prophets his last earthly work. No one can over-estimate the importance of our theological colleges being filled with holy men. Do we pray for students as we ought?
Elijah, in prospect of departure, wished for solitude that he might pour out his soul before the Lord; and moreover he was a man of humble spirit, and did not desire others to see his glorious departure, lest they should think too much of him: Elisha, however, was appointed to be a witness of his translation. Those believers who most desire to escape observation are nevertheless known and read, for the Lord does not design that his choicest works should be hidden.
Elisha could not be shaken off: he felt that he must see the last of his master, and must obtain from him a parting blessing.
That river had aforetime been swollen or dried up, according as the prophet had opened or shut up heaven, and now it opened to give him a dry passage. In this, as in many other respects, Elijah resembled Moses, who divided the waters of the Red Sea.
He felt the difficulty of succeeding such a man as Elijah, and reckoned that he would need a double measure of grace to follow in his footsteps. His request shows that his heart was in his life-work, and that he had abandoned every selfish desire: his sole ambition was to serve his God.
It was not in Elijah’s power to give the Spirit; he could but ask it for his friend, and give him a parting sign that the petition was granted.
A fit departure for one whose fiery spirit and whirlwind force had made all Israel tremble. None beside of mortal men were thus carried in visible state to heaven. Singular fidelity was honoured by a singular translation.
Elijah had been the protector of Israel, the chariot and horseman of the nation, and when he is gone, what will Israel do? This was Elisha’s uppermost thought.
He that receiveth you receiveth me.”
This was the hard custom of the age, that a man’s sons should serve his creditor till his debts were discharged, even though their father was dead. How thickly did sorrows crowd upon this poor woman; her husband was dead, her estate hampered with debts, and her children were to be taken from her to serve another.
Whatever she had she was bound to give it up to pay the debts.
Her poverty was great indeed, and yet she was a prophet’s wife: the people were too fond of their idols to give much to the Lord’s servants.
In the same way the grace of God will fill up all our emptiness if we have but faith in him. When we can receive no more, the blessing will stay; not because the Lord has come to an end of his power, but because we are not able to contain more. “According to your faith be it unto you,” great faith shall have great supplies. If we are stinted, the fault lies wholly with ourselves.
She must pay her debts first, and then the remainder would be hers: she had no right to any of the oil till the creditors were satisfied. It was no sin for her to bear her husband’s debts when she had no means of paying, but the moment it was in her power to meet the claim, she was bound to do so. It would be well if all Christian people remembered this. We are bidden to owe no man anything, and yet debts are shamefully common.
Elisha had relieved a poor woman, and now he is entertained by a rich woman; providence compensates the merciful. It was a great honour to the Shunammite to be allowed to entertain the Lord’s servant, and she showed her true piety by doing this spontaneously, and providing for the good man all necessaries, and above all a quiet room to himself, where he would be undisturbed by the business of the house.
She was contented with her lot, and wished for no royal favour.
Thus it was suggested to the prophet that the birth of a child would fill the house with joy, and the Lord granted the generous woman her desire. Those who serve the Lord and are kind to his people shall meet with a large return. May our house ever be open to the ministers of Christ, for their Lord’s sake.