This book and 1 Kings were one book anciently and later divided, as was 1 and 2 Samuel. It is a continuation of the history of the kings of Israel and Judah. 2 Kings 1.1-18 gives us the account of the rebellion of Moab after the death of Ahab. Ahaziah, Ahab’s son, falls through a lattice in his house and was injured, and he became ill as a result. He sends messengers to Ekron to inquire of Baal-zebub (“Lord of the Flies”-Matt 10.25, 12.24; Mark 3.22; Luke 11.15-18) whether he would recover. Baal-zebub was the god of Ekron.
God sends Elijah to meet these messengers and says, “Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron?” He then tells the messengers of Ahaziah he will not recover. The messengers return to Ahaziah and he said, “Why have you returned?” knowing they came back too soon to have gone to Ekron. They told him a man met them and told them that he was not going to recover. When Ahaziah asked what the man looked like, they said he was hairy with a leather girdle around his loins. He knew it was Elijah. The word for “hairy” is “se’ar” and it could mean he was hairy or it was his camel hair mantle. God showed Ahaziah mercy by showing him that he was going to die, and this gave him time to repent.
So Ahaziah sends a captain of fifty men to arrest Elijah (five is the number of responsibility) and the captain says, “Man of God, the king says come down.” He may have been sarcastic here, or the captain admitted the righteousness of Elijah and recognized his office. Either way, Elijah says, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” This was not in anger but in vindication of God’s honor and a sign that his word to Ahaziah was true. These men were on an ungodly mission. They either did not believe him to be a prophet or they believed the power of the king was above the power of Yehovah. He let God evaluate their motives.
Notice he doesn’t say, “Yup, I am a man of God.” He says, “If I am a man of God.” If he was a man of God, they were not treating him like one. Let God decide by fire, and he did. God brought judgment on those who did not believe Yehovah was a real God. Elijah didn’t “come down” but the fire did. As we know, fire is an established sign of Elijah (Rev 11.5; Luke 9.54; 1 Kings 18.38).
So Ahaziah sends another fifty and they repeated the same error as the first group, even after they knew what had happened to the first group. This captain got even more demanding. Again, Elijah left it in God’s hands and he responded again by fire. Then a third captain with fifty men was sent and he fell on his knees and bowed down before Elijah (v 13-15). This captain was more humble, recognizing he really was a man of God. He saw the blackened spots of the first two groups and did not want that to happen to him, so he was much more courteous. So the angel of the Lord said Elijah should go with him and to not be afraid of the king.
It wasn’t that Yehovah did not want Elijah to go see the king, but Ahaziah and his soldiers acted like there was no God in Israel. When God was honored they acted with more respect to Elijah and he went with them. Elijah delivers the same message to Ahaziah. It didn’t change just because Ahaziah did not want to hear it, and that is a good spiritual lesson for us. Keep telling the truth and don’t change it just because people don’t want to hear it. So, Ahaziah died just as predicted, and just how long after this is not mentioned. He had no son so Yehoram became king because he was Ahaziah’s brother and also a son of Ahab (2 Kings 3.1). Ahaziah’s death proved that Elijah was a prophet. Now, all this can get a little confusing here because the King of Judah at the time was also named Yehoram, the son of Yehoshaphat.
2 Kings 2.1-25 deals with the catching away of Elijah, which was common knowledge beforehand apparently. Many knew that Elijah would be leaving by the “ruach” (wind) to heaven. Now, let’s look at the word heaven (“shamayim”). Heaven had several idioms such as Hebron, Galilee, Abraham’s Bosom and other names, but there is more.
Elisha went with Elijah from Gilgal (Josh 4.19; 1 Sam 1.4). They went to Bethel (“House of God”) because there was a school of prophets there. Talmidim (students) of a teacher are seen as “sons” and these “sons” came to Elisha and said that Elijah was going to be taken “today.” Elisha said he knew and said he didn’t want to talk about it (“be still”). Now, we are going to look at the following incident a little differently than most others who teach it. We do not believe that Elijah dies, or is taken to Heaven (where God is) here. So, let’s develop this a bit more to show you why.
When they came to another school in Jericho (v 5) the “sons” said the same thing to Elisha, and he didn’t want to talk about it. Then Elijah told Elisha to wait and he was going on to the Jordan, but Elisha was not going to leave him. Then fifty sons of the prophets stood opposite them at a distance, while Elijah and Elisha stood by the Jordan. Elijah took his mantle, folded it together and struck the river. It divided and the two of them crossed over on dry ground. When they had crossed over, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you.” Elijah will eventually die, but not here. Elijah is being replaced by Elisha so he was “removed” to another place. Elijah wrote a letter ten years later for instance (2 Chr 21.12-15).
Elisha wanted a double-portion of the Spirit that was upon Elijah. This was like the double-portion of the first-born (bikur). This is in respect to the other “sons” of the prophets who were “younger” in respect to Elisha and what he was doing. He wanted a greater portion than they had. Elijah says he has asked a “hard thing” but he said, “If you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.” Then it says in v 11 that as they walked and talked, a “chariot of fire and horses of fire” appeared. Angels can appear in this form (Psa 104.3-4). This separated the two and Elijah went up in a “wind” (ruach) to “heaven.” So let’s look at that.
Heaven can be understood in three ways. The first “heaven” is where the birds and airplanes fly. The second “heaven” is where the sun, moon and the stars are. The third “heaven” is where God is (2 Cor 12.2-4). Nobody had ascended to the third heaven as of John 3.13 according to Yeshua, so he did not go there. Elijah was not taken to outer space, so this had to be the first “heaven.” This fiery chariot was riding on the earth (Psa 104.3). In 2 Kings 2.12 it says “Elisha saw it” and he cried out, “My father, my father” and this means “my teacher.” The same will be said of Elisha in 2 Kings 13.14.
Elisha is a type of the 144,000 who will see the Natzal (rapture) of the believers on Tishri 1, year 6001 (Rosh Ha Shanah) from creation. They will immediately believe in Yeshua and be saved to be used during the birth-pains as the “first fruits” of those saved during those seven years (Rev 14.4; Jer 50.8; Isa 18.3, 11.10). Isaiah is also seen as a type of the 144,000 in Isa 6.1-7. He sees Yehovah on his throne in a “Ma’aseh Merkavah” vision. He is cleansed right after King Uzziah dies and before his son Yotham can be coronated as the next king. Uzziah is a picture of the days right before the birth-pains (tribulation period), and Yotham and his reign is a picture of the first year of the birth-pains. So this is also alluding to Tishri 1, year 6001.
Elisha also says, “The chariot of Israel and its horsemen” and this means that God through Elijah was a great defense to Israel through his teachings and his service to the nation. This was seen as better than literal chariots and horsemen in spiritual warfare (Isa 31.1). Elisha did not see him anymore, and he tore up his own clothes into two pieces as an expression of mourning and lamenting his own loss and the loss to the nation. He took up the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and returned to the bank of the Jordan. He struck the waters like Elijah did with the mantle and said, “Where is Yehovah, the God of Elijah?” The power was not in the mantle. The words “Aph hu” in Hebrew (he also) appears after “the God of Elijah.” It means “hidden” and “even he himself.” Elisha calls him by his name “Yehovah.” Though Elijah is gone, Yehovah will be with Elisha (and us) because he is on throne.
2 Kings 2.15 says that when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho opposite Elisha saw him they said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” They came to meet him and bowed themselves to the ground before him. If they weren’t with him before this, they are now. And they said to him that they wanted to go search for Elijah saying, “Perhaps the Spirit of the Lord has taken him up and cast him on some mountain or some valley.” Apparently, this has happened before, like in Acts 8.39. Elisha tried to stop them from searching, but couldn’t. They sent out fifty men and searched for three days, confirming he was gone. Elisha waited in Jericho and when they returned with no news, he said, “Did I not say to you, ‘Do not go’?”
In Part 2 we will pick up here.