A number of years ago Norman Cousins wrote an editorial in Saturday Review in which he reported a conversation he had on a trip in India. He was talking with a Hindu. The man said he wanted to come to our country to work as a missionary among the Americans. Cousins assumed that he meant that he wanted to convert Americans to the Hindu religion, but when asked, the Hindu said, “Oh no, I would like to convert them to the Christian religion. Christianity cannot survive in the abstract. It needs not membership, but believers. The people of your country may claim they believe in Christianity, but from what I read at this distance, Christianity is more a custom than anything else. I would ask that either you accept the teachings of Jesus in your everyday life and in your affairs as a nation, or stop invoking His name as sanction for everything you do. I want to help save Christianity for the Christian.”
Therein should our passion be; living the life of Christ that exceeds the expectations of normal Christianity by going beyond the practice of religion and its traditions; and operating in the power of the Spirit. Fully desiring a double portion of God, and not being content with anything less.
After Elijah threw his mantle over Elisha, Elisha burned his plow, and sacrificed his oxen. The Bible records only two things that Elisha observed firsthand of Elija’s ministry; the prophecies concerning the death of Jezebel and the destruction of Ahab’s family, and secondly the prophecy to the king of Samaria that he would die.
The only thing that Elisha witnessed was people dying. Yet there was more to this prophet because Elisha was aware that Elijah had been empowered by God to perform 7 miracles, and he only witnessed the last one:
- Drought of no rain
- Meal and oil multiplied
- Child restored to life
- Fire falling from heaven and consuming the sacrifice
- Rain fell from heaven
- Captains and men slain by fire
- Waters of Jordan divided
It is on this last day of Elijah’s life on earth that he asks Elisha what he wants. Elisha replies that he wants a double portion. Elijah says that if he sees him taken up he would receive that blessing from God. Three times that day Elijah tries his best to discourage Elisha from following him. Even the sons of the prophets on two occasions that day try to discourage him, but Elisha remains steadfast and refuses to leave him. Finally, the chariot of fire comes and takes Elijah away. Elisha picks up the mantle that had fallen from Elijah, smites the waters of the Jordan, walks across dry land and enters into a ministry that was double that of Elijah’s.
The ministry of Elisha could have been another man’s. Elijah had another servant before he called Elisha. This servant is not named but it is assumed that he witnessed all the ministry and miracles of Elijah. He was there witnessing the falling of fire from heaven that consumed the sacrifice and all of Israel fell to their face declaring that the Lord was God. He was there when Elijah took the prophets of Baal and killed them. He was there while Elijah prayed for rain, and came back to tell the man of God that there was a cloud about the size of a man’s hand. He felt the rain pouring down from the sky. He was there when the message came from Jezebel that she was going to kill Elijah for taking the lives of her prophets.
Perhaps it was fear that caused the servant to stay in Beer-sheba, which belonged to Judah. Maybe he was just tired from the events of the preceding few days. Whatever the reason why he was no longer the servant of Elijah, the fact remains, he did not desire what Elijah had with God, nor did he desire to go with God beyond what Elijah had done. No! There was not a desire for a double portion with him. He was finished!
What is so interesting here is the place where he left Elijah. Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah. Judah means praise. They had received a message from Jezebel that she was going to take their lives, so they ran to the place of praise.
We could learn a great lesson here. When we get in trouble we should run to a place of praise. Praise is where there is power with God. God inhabits the place of praise. Look at this verse of scripture: Ps 9:1-3 “I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High. When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.”
You cannot remain at the place of praise. You must go beyond praise. When Elijah left Beersheba he went to Mt. Horeb, the mount of God. It was here that God spoke to Elijah giving him new direction for his ministry.
We like to have a good time in a Sunday service with all the worship and praise, but too often we stay there. We forget to take a moment to hear the voice of God to gain direction for our lives for the week before us. If we are to be the people that God wants us to be, people who walk in the power of His Spirit, then we must move beyond praise, get to the place where you can hear the voice of God in order to receive the double portion.
The mantle that Elisha received is a type of a double portion of the Spirit. Jesus said in Acts 1:8, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you:” Mark 16:17-18, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
Kenneth Haney wrote in The Twentieth Church of Power, “We have the resources, the components are in place. God’s power has not changed and the biblical truths remain the same. It would seem that the matter is relatively simple. If we can take God at His Word, have hearts and minds with singleness of purpose, and exercise our God given gifts, the twentieth century church can and will literally shake the world.” On another page he writes, “It is the business of the twentieth century church to let the world know that there is transforming power in the gospel to change a life.”
A widow woman whose husband had been among the sons of the prophets came to Elisha, because their creditors wanted to take her two sons as servants to pay off their debt. Elisha asked her what she had, and she told him a cruise of oil. Elisha told her to borrow some vessels and not just a few. She then was told to take her little oil and begin to pour into the vessels. Oil is a type of the Holy Ghost. A vessel is a container that is a type of you and I. When the Holy Ghost is poured into our lives we contain the power of God within us to minister to those who need to be set free. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, and I want the power of His Spirit to work through me. Do you want a double portion?
It is imperative that we exceed the normal expectations of Christianity. It is more than going to church, having fellowship with fellow believers, and having a nice facility. We must leave behind us the practice of religion and traditions of men, and operate in the power of God. God saved your soul so that you could change your world for Christ. All of us should reach for a double portion of God’s Spirit and fulfill the will of God in our lives.
Morton Bustard writes in The Impassioned Soul, “What mysterious force lifts a person out of the mainstream of mediocrity into the holy pursuit of the heavenly vision? It is passion. Passion is the energy of the soul and the fire of life. Passion leads you to a life that will end the drought in your inner being.”
Are you satisfied with where you are in God? Are you receiving what you really long for in your walk with God? If not, there is a double portion of His Spirit that is waiting for you. Step into the miraculous power of God where he will use you to meet the need that’s all around you.