First, 3 definitions.
Mickey – a drink, usually alcoholic, to which a drug has been secretly added, that renders the unsuspecting drinker helpless.
Mantle – A. a loose cloak or shawl B. an important role or responsibility passed from one person to another
Mickey Mantle – New York Yankees outfielder; 3-time American League Most Valuable Player; Baseball Hall of Famer; greatest switch-hitter of all time.
Elijah. The name means “The Lord is my God.” Elijah enters Biblical history in about the year 875 BC, when he begins to confront King Ahab. Not since the days of Moses had Israel seen a man of God who did what Elijah did. Anointed by the power of God, by the word of Elijah a drought began which lasted 3 1/2 years. At Elijah’s word, that drought came to an end. At Elijah’s word, the widow of Zarephath found her jar of flour and jug of oil miraculously filled every day for those 3 1/2 years. It was the power of God, through the word of Elijah that raised her son from the dead.
It was Elijah, at the height of his ministry, who stood alone against the 850 prophets of Baal and Asherah and declared before Israel, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If Baal is God follow him! If the Lord Yahweh is God, follow Him!
In this hour the Lord is saying to us – how long will we waver between two opinions? How long will we dance between two partners?
You know what happened. 1 Kings 18 tells us that the Baal prophets and Elijah each prepared a bull for sacrifice. Each bull was cut into pieces and placed on a stack of dry wood. For 8 hours or so the Baal prophets called upon their god to send fire from above to consume the bull. Nothing happened.
Then it was Elijah’s turn. He ordered that his sacrifice be drenched with water – three times, and a trench dug to catch the overflow. Then he prayed. God – the living God – the only wise God – answered. Fire fell from above and consumed the bull.
The on-lookers fell to the ground and began to worship. They cried, “The Lord is God!”
So great was the ministry of Elijah that the Father chose him and Moses to return to earth some 900 years later for a few minutes. The place was the Mount of Transfiguration. Of all the mighty saints who have go one before us, it was Moses and Elijah that the Father chose.
But even the greatest prophet who ever lived had his moments of self-doubt and fear. After the triumph at Mt. Carmel, Elijah is running for his life. Jezebel has put a bounty on his life. Elijah hides in a cave. It is there that God speaks to him, reassuring him, and informing him that he should prepare a successor.
In 1 Kings 19, God leads Elijah to Elisha (God is my salvation). He chooses Elisha by throwing his mantle over Elisha. For 10 years, they minister together.
2 Kings 2 gives us the story of the death of Elijah. It is necessary to present the entire story here as a point of reference.
“When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, the Lord has sent me to Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. The company of prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?” “Yes, I know, ” Elisha replied, “but do not speak of it.” Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, Elisha, the Lord has sent me to Jericho.”
The company of prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?” “Yes, I know,” he replied, “but do not speak of it.” Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as I live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them walked on.
Fifty men of the company of prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up, and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground. When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?”
“Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.
“You have asked a difficult thing, ” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours – otherwise not.”
As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he tore his clothes.
He picked up the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. Then he took the cloak and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.
Three times Elijah gives Elisha the opportunity to stop, to quit the ministry. But Elisha refuses. He knew that God had given him a call, a purpose – that God Himself had set him apart. Elisha knows what might befall him. He is aware of the persecution, the ridicule, the very real possibility that his life could be at stake. But Elisha has seen something beyond. He has determined that he will not settle for less than the fullness of God’s calling for his life. He will go all the way to Jordan – the symbol for the end of life – obedient to his Lord.
God gives us the chance to stop along the way. “I’m born again! I believe Jesus died for my sins! That’s enough! I am going to heaven! I don’t need to pray! I don’t need fellowship! I don’t have to witness! Jesus loves me anyway! I’m saved, I don’t have to do any more!”
Jesus could have stopped in Gethsemane. He said, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.” It seems to me that the human side of Jesus was asking – not seeking – if there was some way besides Calvary. Perhaps Jesus could have refused to go on. But there was no other way. Jesus had to go all the way – as it were, from Gilgal to Jordan.
Have we stopped short in some way in this hour? Have we gotten off the highway, and made a rest area our home?
If Elisha is going to receive the blessing – the “double portion” – he must keep his eye on Elijah and see him as he is taken away.
Are our eyes fixed on Jesus? It is not enough to see Him 99.9 % of the time. The moment we look away – it is that moment when we miss the blessing. If Elisha had allowed distraction for just a moment to enter in, he would have missed the blessing. We never know when Holy Spirit might nudge us, when Jesus might take us in some direction, when He might speak to us. I DO NOT WANT TO MISS HIM! I WANT TO BE IN TOUCH WITH MY LORD EVEN IF IT IS BUT THE HEM OF HIS GARMENT!
Elisha picks up the mantle. It is frayed. It has been well-used. But it’s colors are still vibrant. He realizes that if he is going to carry on the ministry of Elijah, then he must cross back over the river. So he raises the mantle and strikes the water. “WHERE IS THE LORD, THE GOD OF ELIJAH?”
In 1976, I took a job teaching shop skills to special education students at Almond School in Swain County, NC. In the spring, our students attended a field day event at the local high school, kind of like a Special Olympics. During the activities, one of my students, Myrtha, had an epileptic seizure. It was not her first.
I was near her when she fell. I knew a little about first aid so I knelt down and turned her head so she would not swallow her tongue. At that moment, I sensed a strong impulse to pray for her. After all, I serve a mighty God. God loved Myrtha. God wanted to heal her.
As I gave this impulse some thought, I looked up. By this time several other students and a couple of teachers were around us. Doubt crept in. Fear. What if I pray and nothing happens? What is everyone going to think – of me and of God?
So – like so many, many other times in my life, I choked back the impulse. I did pray for her silently (is that worth any credit to me? NO)
I have failed so many times.
Years pass, about 900 of them. Jesus is born. On the day John baptizes Jesus in water, a voice comes out of the sky, “You are My beloved Son. In You I am well-pleased.” And Holy Spirit descends on Jesus (Luke 3.22) Jesus is launched into the ministry of healing the sick, delivering the oppressed, setting the captives free, raising the dead, performing miracle after miracle, and reconciling the world to Himself.
Jesus assembles a band of 12 men. For 3 years He invests Himself in them, and though one would betray Him, He prepares them to continue the work of the Kingdom after He is gone. EVEN BEFORE the outpouring of Holy Spirit in Acts 2, Jesus sends them out (including Judas) to cast out demons and heal the sick. (Luke 10)
Jesus said, “And these signs will accompany them that believe. In My Name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues, they will lay their hands on the sick and they will recover.” (Mark 16.17-18)
Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall you do also and greater works than these shall you do because I go to My Father.” (John 14.12)
Jesus said, “When the Helper comes, Whom I shall send to you, He will bear witness of Me, and you will bear witness of Me also.” (John 15.26-27)
Jesus said, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you shall be my witnesses to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1.8)
On the day of Pentecost, in Acts 2, the 11 disciples and 109 others are gathered. Holy Spirit falls – on them all. NOT JUST ON THE DISCIPLES! The mantle falls on them all. Immediately they leave the upper room. THEY COULD HAVE STAYED THERE. This could have been there Gilgal.
But the Spirit impelled them outward, into the street. Peter, using the mantle of anointing, preaches boldly and 3000 are added to the believers.
Peter and John encounter a lame man at the gate called Beautiful. They swing the mantle. “Silver and gold have I none. But such as I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise and walk.” And we could follow the trail of miracles through the book.
Brethren, this mantle is no mickey! It is not a drug to render us helpless. It is not a mantle to be placed in a glass case and put on the shelf to be admired like some souvenir. It is not a neck warmer!
It is a real anointing. Just as Elijah passed the anointing on to Elisha – just as Jesus sent Holy Spirit to anoint the disciples – now this anointing – this mantle is in our hands.
God has set an anointing in each of us to be His disciples. He has called each of us to go into the world. He has called each of us to SWING THE MANTLE!
There is a risk involved in swinging the mantle. But we must understand that it is not by might, nor by our power, but by the mighty Spirit of our God – Who delights in setting the captives free – Who desires the deliver the oppressed!
When we are willing to boldly pray – to boldly speak the Word of Truth – boldly respond to Holy Spirit within us – to every situation – every tribe – every nation – THE GOD OF ELIJAH, WHO IS OUR LORD JESUS – will show up.
How many times I have disappointed Holy Spirit. How many times I have quenched the Spirit. How many times I have been ashamed of myself for my failures.
But God forgives. And He wants to set us free from condemnation. Allow the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb to wash us thoroughly. Just as He forgave Peter for his monumental denial, and restored him to ministry, He will forgive and restore us.
And yes, let us determine that we will hear and obey the voice of the Spirit, and use the anointing in this hour when our world is in desperate need of our wonder-working Savior.
Certainly that is enough – for now!