Gilgal, Bethel, Jericho and Jordan are 4 places with a rich historical and spiritual past. Israelites first camped in Gilgal after they crossed the Jordan River into the Holy Land While Moses led Israel out of Egypt, God raised up Joshua to lead Israel into the Promised Land. Meanwhile, the city of Bethel signifies our first beginnings of knowledge and understanding of God. At Jericho, God performed a miracle as Israel learned to trust God in a ridiculous manner before the walls came tumbling down. Finally, the Jordan River served as the place where the mantle of Elijah was passed on.
And Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up and struck the waters, and they divided this way and that, so that the two of them went over on dry ground. 9 And when they had gone over, Elijah said to Elisha, Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you. And Elisha said, I pray you, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me, 2 Kings 2:9-10.
In the context of leadership, a mantle is an important role or responsibility that passes from one person to another. When picked to become Elijah’s successor, Elisha asks to spend one more night with his family before saying goodbye. This decision is symbolic of rejecting the world by becoming all in for God. While it’s common for modern Christians to teeter back and forth, flirting with their former way of life, Elisha’s request for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit suggests a spiritual hunger. This prayer request was contingent upon seeing Elijah being taken up into heaven.
And Elisha saw it and he cried, My father, my father! The chariot of Israel and its horsemen! And he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. 13 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and went back and stood by the bank of the Jordan. 14 And he took the mantle that fell from Elijah and struck the waters and said, Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah? And when he had struck the waters, they parted this way and that, and Elisha went over, 2 Kings 2:12-14.
Although Elisha was mentally prepared for this day, his emotions got the best of him. The expression “my father, my father” is a moving way for Elisha to refer to Elijah as his spiritual father on earth. Elijah’s departure causes Elisha to respond like a son struggling to accept that his father will no never return. After a short period of mourning, Elisha is eager to find out if his prayer for a double portion has been granted. Elijah’s mantel, his cloak, fell to earth from the chariot in the sky. Thus, Elisha immediately grabs this mantel and struck the Jordan River. The parting of the Jordan is a clear sign that Elijah’s mantel and spirit was passed on to Elisha.
by Jay Mankus