We saw in the first study that Elisha went from being a ploughman, working in the fields one day, to being a prophet of the Lord the next. It’s fair to say that’s a mighty big change for Elisha! And you will remember that what we also looked at the testing of Elisha. At each step of the journey Elijah was saying “stay here, don’t go any further“ and he was testing Elisha to see if Elisha would stay with him and how much Elisha wanted to follow him and to be with him. And Elisha passed the test saying (in so many words!) “Look, there’s no way, no way at all I am leaving you. I am staying with you and I don’t want to be anywhere else.”
What I wanted to do in this study is actually look at the four places
mentioned in 2 Kings 2:1-6. It’s not a geography lesson and it’s not even a
history lesson. Each of
the four places mentioned (Gilgal,
2 Kings 2:1-6 ‘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
Where it all starts: Gilgal (Separation)
So the first stop on the journey was Gilgal. Before we look at the passage, let me ask you a question… “If you were to go to Gilgal in the days of the Israelites, what would you see?” The answer - stones. Of course, you would see stones in any location, but in this case, there were some pretty specific stones.
Joshua 4:19-24 ‘On the tenth day of the first month the
people went up from the
This is the first real mention of Gilgal and it is very significant.
Gilgal was a very important place in
But the second thing in Gilgal, is in Chapter 5 verse 2, 6-9:
At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make flint knives and circumcise the Israelites
again.”… The Israelites had moved about in the desert forty
years until all the men who were of military age when they left
So this little passage gives us the reason why it is called Gilgal.
Gilgal means the ‘rolling’ or ‘roll-away’ and so it is called Gilgal because
God was saying to them “I have rolled away the past. I have rolled away the
Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay
here; the LORD has sent me to
The next stop on the journey was
So it was Jacob who called the place
I was reading through the Psalms the other day and one small verse stood
out to me. It was talking about the
Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, Elisha; the LORD has
sent me to
The next stop in Elisha’s journey was
‘Now when Joshua was near
Bit of a strange answer don’t you think? Joshua sees this guy, he’s got a sword and he looks as if he is going to be a real good fighter and so Joshua obviously wants to know whose side he is on - ‘Are you with us, or are you with our enemies?‘ he asks. To which the guy answers ‘No’. I love what Major Ian Thomas says about this. ‘In so many words Joshua was saying to Him ‘whose side are you on, are you on our side or on theirs?’ But he said ‘No, I haven’t come to take sides. I have come to take over!’ And that is what he was meaning. Joshua was in the presence of the Lord! And the Lord doesn’t come merely ‘to help’. He comes to take over the situation. Obviously, as the first battle, God was going to teach the Israelites something special here. Let’s have a look –
If you ask yourself, ‘how is
The eternal principle of the Jordan – Death and Resurrection
Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the LORD has sent me
The final test for Elisha came with the
Ok, so you already know that Elisha went as
far as the
John 12:23-26 “Jesus said ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.’
Notice that Jesus, while thinking of the cross, said that ‘where I am, my servant will be also.’ This eternal principle of the wheat falling to the ground and dying was not just for Jesus! No, Jesus clearly said that to be His servant would mean that the same principle applied. Elisha knew this, and when the call of God came his way, he readily let go of his own life, his own hopes and dreams, and followed the call of God to wherever that would lead him! What a fantastic attitude and a great picture for our lives.
New Testament Confirmation
So we have looked at the four locations where Elisha was tested at. Gilgal,
When I was thinking about those four places, in dawned on me that there is a well know New Testament passage that corresponds to each of these locations. It is Phil 3:6-10. To make things easy (hopefully!), I have added the following table.
If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more… But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ
What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.
I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
We are back to where we were at the end of the first study on Elisha. And that is with what was spoken about Elisha and his master Elijha –
“So the two of them walked on.”
Or, in the language of the New Testament passage of Philipians 3 -
“I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me… But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
That was the heart of Paul. Even Paul didn't think that he had arrived, and wasn’t content with what he currently knew and had experienced in the Lord. It's important not just to start the Christian life well. It's important to carry on well and to finish well. Press on Christian, to lay hold of that which God has for you.
 I heard someone say one time that some theologians
can tell you the distance from
 I read a quote from A. W. Tozer recently. Most of A. W. Tozer’s quotes are quite convicting! He said ‘Contentment with earthly goods is the mark of a saint. Contentment with our spiritual state is a mark of inward blindness. Orthodox Christianity has fallen to its present lower state from lack of spiritual desire. Among the many who profess the Christian faith, scarcely one in a thousand reveal any passionate thirst for God.’
I found that convicting anyway. I don’t know about you but it’s hard living in this world. Often we get those two things mixed up. We become content with where we are at in our relationship with God and not content with earthly goods and worldly things! It is very easy to get the wrong priority.
One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.(Psalm 27:4)
 You can imagine Joshua trying to explain what they
were going to do to his generals and the people of
 A friend of mine has a son who is about 18 months old. Quite often, when he is at church, he will throw his son up in the air and just catch him. The little boy will laugh his head off because he trusts his dad. Probably if he knew my friend’s butter fingers as well as I do, he wouldn’t be laughing! But that’s another matter. The fact is that he knows his dad will catch him. And it's the same with us. When there are any little hiccups, bumps on the road, we need to remember that God is not going to let us fall. He is our Father. And He's more than any earthly father could ever be. We need to learn to relax like this little boy does in the hands of his father.
 Jesus repeatedly said ‘He who loses his life for my sake shall find it.” In fact, this saying is repeated in all four gospels (sometimes more than once) and is one of His most frequent sayings! (See Matt 10:39, 16:25, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, 17:33, John 12:25). Why? Because we all try so very hard to hang on to all that we think is ours… our possessions, our rights, our independence, our wisdom, our strength… And yet, standing against all this is an eternal principle that does not move. The principle that states that unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides ALONE.
 I was watching the Winter Olympics recently. Now I really enjoy the ice hockey and snow boarding. And I was watching the women's border cross (snow board racing down a narrow track with jumps and berms). It got to the final and everyone crashed, apart from one American girl! As she approached the last jump, there was no one else in camera shot and the commentators were saying - Oh, she's doing a lap of honour now! She’s got this completely wrapped up.’ Now I don’t know what she was thinking, but she got casual, possibly showing off a bit, and went for a rail grab on the last jump. As she came down she tumbled over and she quickly tried to get to her feet to glide down to the finish line to get gold. Unfortunately, the girl in second place, who had crashed earlier, had a lot more momentum and went past her just before the finish line. She ended up coming second. Can you imagine how she must have been kicking herself? She could have just slowed down and glided down the hill for first place but just let it slip. I guess to try and fit it into this passage - Paul was saying here 'I am not going to let it slip - I am not going to get complacent. I am going to carry on, press on right to the very goal. It's not good enough that I just started well and I'm okay at the moment. I'm taking this the whole way '. Think also of the second girl who went on to get gold. She had crashed earlier. She could have given up and thought that there was no point in carrying on because the others were too far ahead. But she didn’t. She forgot what was behind and pressed on with her goal. And she ended up with gold!