Few “replacements” in Scripture were as effective as Elisha, who was Elijah’s replacement as God’s prophet to Israel. But Elisha had a great example to follow in the prophet Elijah. He remained with Elijah until the last moments of his teacher’s life on earth. He was willing to follow and learn in order to gain power to do the work to which God had called him.
Both Elijah and Elisha concentrated their efforts on the particular needs of the people around them. The fiery Elijah confronted and exposed idolatry, helping to create an atmosphere where people could freely and publicly worship God. Elisha then moved in to demonstrate God’s powerful, yet caring, nature to all who came to him for help. He spent less time in conflict with evil and more in compassionate care of people. The Bible records 18 encounters between Elisha and needy people.
Elisha saw more in life than most people because he recognised that with God there was more to life. He knew that all we are and have comes to us from God. The miracles that occurred during Elisha’s ministry put people in touch with the personal and all-powerful God. Elijah would have been proud of his replacement’s work.
We have great examples to follow – both people in Scripture and those who have positively influenced our lives. We must resist the tendency to think about the limitations that our family background or environment create for us. Instead, we should ask God to use us for his purpose – perhaps, like Elijah, to take a stand against great wrongs or, like Elisha, to show compassion for the daily needs of those around us. Ask him to use you as only he can.
Strengths and accomplishments:
- Was Elijah’s successor as a prophet of God
- Had a ministry that lasted over 50 years
- Had a major impact on four nations: Israel, Judah, Moab, and Aram
- Was a man of integrity who did not try to enrich himself at others’ expense
- Did many miracles to help those in need
Lessons from his life:
- In God’s eyes, one measure of greatness is the willingness to serve the poor as well as the powerful
- An effective replacement not only learns from his master, but also builds upon his master’s achievements
- Where: Prophesied to the northern kingdom
- Occupations: Farmer, prophet
- Relative: Father: Shaphat
- Contemporaries: Elijah, Ahab, Jezebel, Jehu
Key verse: “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” (2 Kings 2:9).
Elisha’s story is told in 1 Kings 19:16 – 2 Kings 13:20. He is also mentioned in Luke 4:27.