Our Father, our Lord, remind us that as the Potter Thou hast power over the clay. Of one Thou makest a vessel unto honour, and of another Thou makest unto dishonour, according to Thy own pleasure and will. Amen.
HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SING
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Hark! The herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!
Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
With th’angelic host proclaim,
Christ is born in Bethlehem!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King!
Christ, by highest Heav’n adored;
Christ the everlasting Lord;
Late in time, behold Him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’incarnate Deity,
Pleased with us in flesh to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel.
Hail the heav’nly Prince of Peace!
Hail the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings,
Ris’n with healing in His wings.
Mild He lays His glory by,
Born that man no more may die.
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us Thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conqu’ring Seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head.
Now display Thy saving power,
Ruined nature now restore;
Now in mystic union join
Thine to ours, and ours to Thine.
Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface,
Stamp Thine image in its place:
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in Thy love.
Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the Life, the inner man:
O, to all Thyself impart,
Formed in each believing heart.
What does the word “commence” or “commencement” mean? (To enter upon; begin). Why is it that a graduation “commencement” comes at the end of an educational process? (While in once sense, a “commencement” marks the end of a segment of time, it also marks the beginning of another).
Life is filled with “commencements,” not just the graduation variety. Birth is a commencement of life outside the womb. Death is a commencement of existence beyond this world. Every “commencement” in between marks the end and the beginning of segments of our lives.
This chapter is a “commencement” for Elijah, as he moves from an earthly existence to an eternal existence. This chapter is also a “commencement” for Elisha because he will assume the role of God’s prophet to the nation of Israel. Some see this as an “end” for Elijah, while others would say this is a “beginning” for Elisha.
1-18, Elijah thought he had failed at fulfilling his mission, but not God. The role of a charioteer was to transport the king into a place of prominence, especially in a battle. The imagery of the chariots and horses used here was to help the reader visualize that God was involved in this unusual event and that Elijah was like God’s charioteer. Elijah faithfully brought God to the minds of the Hebrews to convict them of their idolatry. Even though the nation did not repent and respond in faith, God acknowledged his servant’s faithfulness.
Having been chosen by God and trained by Elijah, Elisha was granted a request at Elijah’s departure. Here, Elisha appealed to the law of the first-born, who was to receive a double share of the inheritance. Elisha was asking that he be made Elijah’s true successor (who would continue to call the divided nation from its idolatry), not that he be allowed to do more miracles than did Elijah.
Since this is the beginning of Elisha’s work for God, it would be good to compare these two servants. Elijah reminds us of John the Baptist. He lived apart from the people and stressed law, judgment, and repentance. Elisha reminds us of Christ. He lived among the people and emphasizes grace, life, and hope.
19-22, It took Elisha less than half a day before God would test his obedience. Would Elisha do what God said, even though it didn’t make sense? Through this miracle, God would demonstrate that He was present with Elisha. At Jericho the water had become undrinkable. God instructed Elisha to take a “new bowl” (this represented Elisha as the new instrument in God’s hand) and pour “salt” (salt was used in each of the daily grain offerings) into the water. By this miracle, God demonstrated that He is greater than Baal (the so-called “god of fertility”). Only the Lord could heal their barrenness (which was caused by their idolatry). That sweet water continues until this present day in Jericho as does an urban legend that childless women who drink Jericho’s water will give birth.
23-25, In the twelve-mile journey from Jericho to Bethel, Elisha’s motive for serving the Lord would be tested. Was Elisha self-serving or serving God? Through this miracle, God would demonstrate that He enabled (empowered) Elisha. These boys were actually young men and knew better. Their words mocked Elijah’s “disputed” departure from this world. Their taunts compared Elisha to an unclean person according to the Levitical Law. Would Elisha seek revenge? No, he saw that these idolaters were actually slandering God’s name and reputation. Sure, Elisha pronounced the curse, but God executed judgment.
Click here for Matthew Henry’s Commentary.
Truth in Practice
What can we learn from Elijah and Elisha’s “commencements”?
God’s presence and power must first be observed in others before it can be passed on to others. There is probably no greater delight to parents than that their children choose to “take up the mantle” to follow God in the way established in your home. Parents of adult children may watch with sorrow at the ungodly choices their children may make. Yet, their choices do not negate the parents’ responsibility to continue to live according to God’s way. Does your family observe God’s presence and power in your life (whether children are growing or grown)? How are you actively preparing and continually teaching your family to “take up the mantle” when God calls you home?
God’s power and presence did not end because Elijah was “gone,” even though the people continued in idolatry. He immediately empowered Elisha. We are quick to think that the end is sure if a certain family member or a particular church leader is removed from us. God takes one and raises up many others at His will. His work is never based on our personality or skill.
God’s glory is our goal. It is not about me–not the exhibition of “my” presence, nor the demonstration of “my” power. How has God tested your obedience? In what way has the Lord tested your motives, why you serve Him? How has God confirmed His presence and power in your life?
Pastor Jim Covington – Bell Gardens, CA
Q. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at their death?
A. The souls of believers are at their death made perfect in holiness (Heb. 12:23) and do immediately pass into glory (Php. 1:23; 2 Co 5:8; Luke 23:43), and their bodies, being still united to Christ (1 Th. 4:14) do rest in their graves (Isa. 57:2) till the resurrection (Job 19:26).