3D Sermon Notes, 6 30, 2019

6-30-19      Sermon Notes  
 “Two Indispensable Relationships”
This Sunday we are going to be looking at two of the most interesting characters in the Old Testament:  Elijah and Elisha.  It’s easy to get the two prophets confused, so I thought it might be good to refresh our memories.
Let’s go with Elijah first.  He was born around 900 B.C. in the small village of Tishbe, which was part of the province of Gilead, east of the Jordan River in northern Israel.  Even though this was a rugged, mountainous region, it had fertile soil and was watered by many streams flowing to the Jordan.  In addition to other crops, Gilead was famous for the fragrant herbs which they marketed throughout the Eastern World.  The extract from these herbs were called “the balm of Gilead,” and were used in perfumes and medicines.
Elijah had probably taken a Nazarite vow during his youth.  In addition to other things, the Nazarites were considered warriors for God, always prepared to fight the enemies who undermined Israel’s religious traditions.  They vowed never to cut their hair, own land, live in houses, or drink wine.  When Ahab became King of Israel, and Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, brought in the worship of Baal, God sent Elijah in to confront Ahab.  That’s how Elijah became known as the “Troubler of Israel.”  Elijah came before Ahab and said that because of the wickedness of the Baal worship, “there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” (1 Kings 17: 1).  They he just walked out and went into the wilderness, where he drank from a brook, and God sent ravens to bring him food twice a day.
Elijah is best remembered for his confrontation of the prophets of Baal.  They set up an altar with wood and a sacrifice, and had a contest.  The contest was simple: the prophets of Baal would pray to their god, and Elijah would pray to his God.  Whichever answered with fire from heaven would be known as the true God.  The prophets of Baal went first.  The prayed, and shouted, and cut themselves with swords and carried on until after midday, with no results at all.  Then Elijah said for water to be poured over the sacrifices and the wood (just to make things more interesting).  Then he had them pour water over it a second and third time.  Then he prayed, and God sent fire from heaven, and it burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, the soil, and licked up the water that had flowed into the trench around the altar.  The prophets of Baal were seized and killed.  (1 Kings 18)
This infuriated Queen Jezebel, so she vowed to kill Elijah.  After finding out that Queen Jezebel had vowed to kill him, Elijah ran away, and eventually ended up in cave on Mt. Horeb.  God asked Elijah what he was doing in that cave, and Elijah said that he was the only one left who had not worshipped Baal, and now they were trying to kill him.  God told him that he wasn’t the Lone Ranger.  There were at least 7,000 who had not bowed to Baal.  And then he told him to go and meet his successor…a man named Elisha. (1 Kings 19)
Elisha was the son of a well-to-do farmer in the Jordan Valley, south of the Sea of Galilee.  One day he was minding his business, plowing with oxen, when Elijah found him.  Without a word, Elijah came up to him and placed his mantle on Elisha.  What this symbolized was that Elisha had been chosen to be Elijah’s successor.  Elisha killed his oxen, and used the ploughing equipment to make a makeshift altar, and barbecued the oxen and gave the meat to the other farm hands who were plowing the field with him.  From that day on, he became Elijah’s attendant, following and learning from his mentor for what most Bible scholars think was about six years. 
Then came the time for Elijah to go to meet his Maker, and for Elisha to step into his prophetic role.  Elijah was going to leave for heaven in a very unique and dramatic way!   This is where our Scripture for Sunday picks up the story in 2 Kings chapter 2…
Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their         way from Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for             the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said,            “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not                 leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.
6 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two         of them went on. 7 Fifty men of the company of                        prophets[c] also went, and stood at some distance from          them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. 8 Then         Elijah took his mantle and rolled it up, and struck the              water; the water was parted to the one side and to the             other, until the two of them crossed on dry ground.
9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me           what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.”               Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of                 your spirit.” 10 He responded, “You have asked a hard            thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you,             it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” 11 As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. 12 Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of          Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer            see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in              two pieces.
13 He picked up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the         Jordan. 14 He took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen            from him, and struck the water, saying, “Where is the              Lord, the God of Elijah?” When he had struck the water,          the water was parted to the one side and to the other,            and Elisha went over.
(2 Kings 2: 1-2, 6-14  NRSV)

What I am going to focus on this Sunday is the importance of having two key relationships in our lives. (1) Somebody that is a mentor to us.  (2) Somebody that we mentor.

See you Sunday!
Pastor Sam
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