A Double Portion

Scripture: Malachi 4:5-6, 2 Kings 2:1-18
What does it mean to have a double portion of the Holy Spirit? We'll examine the Bible stories of Elijah and Elisha.
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Note: This is an unedited, verbatim transcript of the live broadcast.

This is our last presentation in our series on the life of Elijah. I have enjoyed this very much. I’ve been learning so much as I study with you in preparation for these studies together. I’d like to take you now to the second book of Kings, chapter one. I’m going to move very quickly through chapter one and the main focus will be chapter two of 2nd Kings, but quickly do you remember in our last study of Elijah Ahab because of his stubborn rebellion, he stole Naboth’s vineyard, then he goes into battle even against the advice of Micaiah the prophet of God. He thinks he’s got it all figured out and he’s struck with an arrow and he dies in his chariot. He bleeds to death because he’s too stubborn to go get medical help, too stubborn to listen to the council of God. His son then Ahaziah who is even as bad if not worse than his father, he only reigned a couple of years.

He had an accident in the palace where he fell through a lattice and he injured himself and chapter one tells us that he didn’t know whether he was going to recover, whether he should get his will written up and so he sent his messengers to go to Baal-Zebub the god of Ekron, a pagan god to ask of their prophets if he was going to recover. After everything the Lord had done for Ahab and for the people of Israel to show that he was the real and living God Ahaziah following the council of his rebellious mother Jezebel said, “I’m not going to Jehovah. No way!” So he sends his messengers to this pagan god Baal-Zebub, (It even sounds bad, doesn’t it?) god of Ekron and on their way Elijah the prophet intercepts these messengers and he says, “You go back and tell your master, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Is it because there is no God in Israel that you’re going to Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron to inquire from him?”’ Now here’s the message. You want to find out if your master is going to recover? The answer is no, he’s going to die because you don’t think there’s a God in Israel.” You know I wonder how many times the church makes the same mistake of taking our problems to the government and to the politics and police and everybody but the Lord or we go pursuing pagan council when the answers are in the word of God.

You know it’s a tragedy, I happen to know that there are even some who claim to be Bible Christians that consult their horoscopes to find out what’s God’s plan and they take fortune cookies seriously or they dial up those personal psychics. You’ve heard me say this several times but I still think it’s hilarious. A friend of mine doing research said he called one of those numbers to find out what was going on. The first thing they asked for was a credit card. He said, “Well, you’re the psychic you tell me.” Ha! So I hope nobody here is going to Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron when we have a God in Israel that’s still alive. Amen? Well, when the messengers came back they tell, now I’m summarizing chapter one, you go home and read it. When the messengers came back the king said, “How come you’re back so soon?” They said, “Well, we were on our way to go to the priests of Baal-Zebub and a prophet met us and he said you’re going to die!” And he gave the message that was given by Elijah and he said, “What did he look like?” They said, “Well, he was a hairy man and he wore a leather belt. Now hairy doesn’t mean that he was virile like a gorilla. It means he was wearing a angora like camel garment, these hairy camel burlap robes that the prophets wore. Remember the Bible says that John the Baptist wore that prophet’s garb and he came in the spirit and power of Elijah and here he had this camel skin, this furry camel garment and a leather belt and they all knew. He said, “Oh it’s Elijah the Tishbite. He was my father’s nemesis and no doubt he’s giving me a hard time. Go bring him here! Get the police. Get a captain with fifty soldiers and go find him.” Well, the sent out a captain with fifty soldiers. They went looking for Elijah.

They found him sitting placidly on the top of one of these badland clay hills they’ve got there in Palestine, because the knolls are very prominent and rather than go up after him the captain with his fifty soldiers sitting on his horse, he said, “Man of God, thus says the king, ‘Come down at once!’” And Elijah says, “If I’m a man of God then let fire come down from heaven and devour you.” And whoosh! Fire flashes out of a cloudless sky again just like it did on Mount Carmel and it chars the whole company and they just fall over charred to the ground. Well, Elijah just sits there meditating. The kind is wondering why they’re so long in returning. Word comes back, “You won’t believe this, your Majesty, but it looks like the whole army, those fifty soldiers and the captain got burnt up.” “Well, send another fifty!” Talk about stubborn. I would have learned after my first fifty soldiers, right? I would have learned after Mount Carmel. He says, “Send another fifty!” You know there’s something about sin; it makes you stupid. It does. You know Jesus rises from the dead and the Roman soldiers go charging through Jerusalem to proclaim this miracle and the priests say, “We’ll pay you to say it never happened.” That’s not a good idea. Jesus resurrects Lazarus and the priests say, “We better kill him too or people are going to really start believing in Jesus.” When someone has made up their mind not to believe they do some really idiotic things fighting God. So he sends another fifty soldiers, the son of Ahab. And they come and they say the same thing. I would have at least altered my speech especially when you’re surrounded with the charred remains of the first team, right? And they said, “Thus says the king, ‘Come down, man of God!’” And Elijah says the same thing he said before. God is consistent. He said, “If I’m a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and devour you and your fifty soldiers.”

Whoosh! Fire flashes from the sky again and there are twice as many burnt soldiers and horses. The king finds out what’s happened. He sends another captain with his fifty soldiers except this soldier has a brain. Now he’s got to listen to the king or he’s executed by the king but he sees what happens when you’re rude to Elijah so he comes and he gets off his horse and he gets down on his knees and he’s looking up at the prophet. He says, “Man of God, have mercy on me. The king told me to come and I have to come and I know what happened to the other captain and their fifty soldiers but what am I to do?” And Elijah says, “Well, since you put it that way, I’ll come with you.” And he went down and he told the king the same thing that he had said through the messengers. He didn’t change the message. He said, “Is there no God in Israel that you’ve inquired of Baal-Zebub the god of Ekron? After all that God has done to show you and your father that he’s real, you’re going back to the pagan gods so you’re going to die.” Now this king didn’t have enough sense to humble himself like Hezekiah. When Isaiah said, “You’re going to die.” Hezekiah prayed. He humbled himself and God extended his life. Even Ahab had his life extended when he humbled himself.

This king was so stubborn that’s why he only reigned two years. God said, “He’s hopeless.” So he died. That brings us to chapter two. “And it came to pass,” verse one, chapter two. “And it came to pass, when the Lord was about to take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.” Now remember Elijah had been told when he was in the cave to go to call to anoint Elisha to be his replacement as his apprentice. “He would be prophet in your place,” was God’s word. Which he did. Now let me just state for the record now this is a difficult sermon for any pastor to preach because when you say in repetition Elijah and Elisha in the same story it’s very easy to get them confused. I have not yet done this sermon once without mixing them up so be patient. You try and do it. Elijah means “my God Elohim is Jehovah.” Elisha is very similar. It means “my God is savior.” Elisha’s name is also very much like the name of Jesus. Jesus’ name was Yashua, “Jehovah is savior.” Remember the angel Gabriel said, “You’ll call his name Jesus,” except the angel didn’t speak Greek. He said, “You’ll call his name Yashua for he will save his people from their sins.” My God is savior, okay? So Elisha is the servant of Elijah.

God has told Elijah and the sons of the prophets that he is not going to die the death of every man but God is going to take him to heaven without passing Go. He is going to have a special angelic escort. He knew in advance. You know the Bible says, “Surely the Lord God will do nothing but he reveals his secret to his servants the prophets.” “And so it came to pass, when the Lord was about to take” Elijah up to “heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.” Now before Elijah goes he is preoccupied with encouraging and instructing and giving final admonition and council to the sons of the prophets. Evidently Samuel was the one who established these schools of the prophets. They were located strategically throughout the northern kingdom. Many of the places were the same as the cities of refuge. Gilgal was one of the exceptions. Before he ascends to heaven he instructs, he explains the scriptures, he councils them. You know Jesus and Elijah in this story is a type of Christ. Before Jesus ascended to heaven he spent forty days encouraging and instructing the apostles and disciples, didn’t he, to prepare them to minister without his presence. And Elijah says to Elisha, “Stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me to Bethel.”

The Lord has sent me to the house of God. That’s what that means. And “Elisha said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!’” I’d like you to say those last five words with me. I will not leave you. He says it more than once. The secret to Elisha being filled with a double portion of Elijah’s spirit is he followed his master relentlessly. Elijah said, “Look, Elisha, before I go the Lord has sent me to go through a circuit and visit all of the schools of the prophets and you’ll probably hear me repeat some of the same things and I hate to put you through this so you stay here. Got it?” He said, “No, I’m going where you go. I’m staying with you. If you’re being caught up by a band of angels I want to be there when it happens.” And so he followed him to the house of God. And you and I… oh, incidentally, before I go any farther, Elijah represents Jesus in this story. Elisha represents you and me. Elijah is going to go to heaven. He’s leaving a double portion of his spirit for Elisha the same way Jesus ascended to heaven and he left the Holy Spirit for the apostles, amen? How many of you would like to be filled with a double portion of God’s Spirit? If they needed it back then we need it now and the same way John the Baptist came in the spirit and power of Elijah and Elisha received the spirit and power of Elijah, God wants an army of people who have the spirit and power of Elijah to prepare the world for the second coming.

In this story we will see some things that tell us how we might receive a double portion of the Spirit the same way Elisha did. Okay? So jostle the person next to you and make sure that they’re paying attention. Go ahead. Jostle them. Alright. I want everyone to tune in. I don’t talk in my sleep and I don’t want to talk in your sleep. Okay? So verse three, “The sons of the prophets who were at Bethel (they) came to Elisha and (they) said, ‘Do you know… the Lord will take away your master from over you today?’ And Elisha said, ‘Yes, I know; keep silent!’” In other words, you’re not going to be just the apprentice anymore. You’re going to be a prophet in your own right. You’re going to be promoted. You get your degree. You won’t have him telling you what to do. Was Elisha chafing under serving Elijah or was he happy to serve him? He was delighted. It was an honor to serve him. He said, don’t tell me about it. I like serving him. And you know serving Elijah was not a glorious job. The matter fact one time Jehosaphat the king identified Elisha. He said, “This is the one who poured water on the hands of Elijah.” Being the servant of a poor prophet that gets fed by widows and ravens is not a glorious job, right? And you know he’d pour the water over his hands before he’d wash when he’d eat or when he’d finished he’d wash his feet and then they’d curl up in their sleeping bags under a broom tree together. It wasn’t a great job. It didn’t have a lot of medical benefits and things like that. But he loved abiding in the presence of this mighty man of God. He had left the comforts of being a wealthy ranching son, heir of this family and farm to follow Elijah and he was happy to do it.

Verse four, “Then Elijah said to him, ‘Elisha, stay here, please, for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.’” And Jericho was the city of fragrance. He said, “As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives, I will not leave you!” I will not leave you. Say that with me again. I will not leave you. Do you know why Peter denied Jesus? Because he followed him from a distance. John followed Christ side by side and he did not deny Jesus. A lot of us may end up denying the Lord and repenting with bitter tears like Peter because we get distracted from following him. Why did the Children of Israel get discouraged in the wilderness? Because they stopped following the Lord. We’ve got to be determined to follow wherever he goes are. Amen? I will not leave you. So they went to Jericho together. And the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho came to Elisha and they said to him the same thing they had said at Bethel. “Do you hear the news? The word of the Lord has it that the Lord is going to take away your master from over your head today.” And Elisha answered and said, “Yes, I know it. Keep silent!” Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, please,” (you can hang out here) “for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” And he said, “As the Lord lives, and as your soul lives,” say it with me. “I will not leave you!” Would you like to have that kind of commitment and resolve to follow Jesus wherever he leads, wherever he goes, whether he’s going up or down. You know what the word Gilgal means? I didn’t tell you that. It means Circle. You ever follow the Lord in those circles before and you wonder well haven’t I been here before? You need to follow trusting him wherever he leads.

The word Jordan means descending. Now he’s going down. He said, “I’ll follow you there too. I’m going to follow you to the house of God; I’ll follow you in fragrant places; I’m going to follow you in circles; I’ll follow you up and down. I'm not going to leave you.” So they went on together. You know one of my… every now and then someone asks Pastor Doug to do a wedding. I try to get out of it as often as I can because I’m not very good at it and I always feel guilty signing the name Batchelor on a wedding certificate. I think that’s a bad omen. But when I do a wedding I like to use this phrase from the book of Ruth. Ruth chapter one, turn with me. Don’t lose your place in 2nd Kings. Ruth 1:16, you know this. Naomi says your sister-in-law has gone home. She’s gone back to her gods. You go on too. “And Ruth said, ‘Entreat me not to leave you, or to turn back from following after you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people will be my people, your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there will I buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.” Isn’t that a good phrase for a wedding? It’s a good phrase for a Christian. It’s a phrase of commitment. Your people are my people. Isn’t that what we say when we decide to follow Christ? Where you go, I will go. Your God is my God. Where you lodge, I will lodge; and where you die, I will die.

We follow Christ to the cross, don’t we? And there will I be buried. We’re buried with him and we’re risen with him. With an oath the Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death separates you and me. Till death do us part. Back to 2nd Kings. I’d like to have that kind of resolve and determination to follow Jesus no matter what, no matter where, to love him with all my heart and mind, soul and strength so wherever he goes I go and I can say, “I will not leave you!” And so “fifty men of the sons of the prophets went and stood facing them at a distance, while the two of them went on to Jordan.” You know it was the privilege of those sons of the prophets to go with them but they decided they were content to watch from a distance and they missed a blessing, didn’t they? You and I should be vying to be as close to the Lord as we can possibly be. You know sometimes in preparing a person for baptism I get worried they start asking questions like, “What is the minimum requirement to be a member of the church?” as soon as I start hearing those kind of questions I get worried because that’s the wrong attitude. When you make up your mind to follow Jesus instead of saying, “How much do I have to give up and still be able to qualify and skid through the gates into the kingdom?”

That’s the wrong attitude. Instead of thinking how much do I have to give up and how far to I have to go and how close to the edge of the world can I ride and still not fall over? You've heard this before. People the church want to know that. You know is this permissible, is that permissible? As soon as people are talking like that I question their conversion because the questions of the converted percent are how far can I go, what more can I do, how much closer can I be? Right? Instead of saying, Do I have to do that? Every time you unlock the doors of the church they’re there. They want to soak it up. They’re there for prayer meeting. They’re there for staff meeting. They’re there when they’re shampooing the carpet. They are there for just about anything they can think of because they just want to absorb Jesus any opportunity they have. That’s the attitude Elisha had. A lot of us are content to watch from a distance and we miss the blessing because we’re looking for the minimum daily requirement. And they, fifty men of the sons of the prophets they stood and they watched at a distance while the two of them stood by Jordan. You know that song “Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home. I looked over Jordan and what did I see?” It’s based on this.

It’s got pretty good theology actually. “Now Elijah took his mantle…” The word mantle is basically the same as the robe. It was the outer robe that the prophet wore. And “Elijah took his mantle, and he rolled it up, and he struck the water; and it was divided this way and that way, so the two of them crossed over on dry ground.” Now I’ve got to talk about this. It gets really good here. First of all, the fact that he had to strike the Jordan to cross over means the Jordan was raging. The Jordan only rages during the spring of the year. What time of year did Jesus die? And he rose shortly after that. Elijah probably ascended to heaven very much the same time that Jesus ascended to heaven. The better part of the year the Jordan River in some cases is a series of stagnating pools and you can walk across it and so here it was at flood stage. He takes his mantle, now who does Elijah represent in this story? He’s a type of Christ. The mantle is a what? It’s a robe. He takes the robe and he strikes the barrier, the Jordan. Now what is the Jordan a symbol of in the Bible? Death, burial, and resurrection. Death and burial primarily. Where was Naaman cleansed from his leprosy? In the Jordan. Where did John the Baptist choose to baptize? In the Jordan.

The word Jordan means descending. It’s the lowest river, this is a fact, it’s the lowest river in the world because it runs into the Dead Sea which is the lowest place on the planet. I forget what it is, thirteen hundred feet below sea level. Something like that. Somewhere between thirteen hundred and a million. I forget. But that’s an estimate. You look that up and you tell me, but it’s I think thirteen hundred or nineteen hundred, I forget, feet below… Thirteen hundred feet below sea level, yeah, lowest place on the planet, the lowest river. It’s a symbol of death and burial. When John the Baptist chose that spot to baptize it’s because the baptism is a symbol of death, burial, and resurrection. The Jordan is what the Children of Israel had to cross to get into the Promised Land. Most people who are going to be in the Promised Land have to die first. There are a few rare exceptions. There is Enoch, and there’s Elijah, and there will be some who are alive and remain when the Lord comes back. Amen? That will be translated. When the Children of Israel crossed into the Promised Land the Ark and the Covenant, it was a flood stage again, the priests carrying the Ark with the Law of God they stepped into the water and it parted miraculously and they went over on dry ground. The first time they crossed in to get to the Promised Land on earth it was the law. Now Elijah is going to cross again miraculously and it's not the law that parts the water it’s the robe because he’s not getting a physical inheritance, he’s getting a spiritual inheritance. He’s not getting the physical Promised Land, he’s going up to Canaan and the robe is what made it possible for him to get across.

Who is Elijah? He’s a type of Christ. Whose robe is it that makes it possible for us to get to the other side? It's the robe of Christ. What was it that Jesus left behind? The only thing he had was his clothing, his bloodstained robe. They tore the other stuff up and a divided it four ways symbolizing the righteousness of Christ would go north, south, east, and west and cover the sins of the world. Amen? But his seamless robe, they wouldn’t tear it because it was too high a quality so they cast lots for it and somebody took that bloodstained robe home. Christ gave his robe to the world to cover the sins of the world. What is it that makes it possible for you and I to get to heaven? It’s the robe of Christ. Now I think it’s also significant to mention at this point they crossed over on dry ground. Do you know what that means? They did not get muddy. They crossed over and came up the other side clean. What made it possible for that miracle? The robe. What makes it possible for you and I to be righteous in God’s eyes? It’s the robe of Christ. So they strike, he strikes the water with his robe and it divides “this way and that way and the two cross over on dry ground.” Verse nine, “And so it was, when they crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Ask! What I might do for you before I am taken away from you?’” Now what did Christ say before he ascended to heaven to the disciples? “Up to now you’ve asked nothing in my name. Ask! That your joy might be full.”

And Christ specified with it was they were to ask for. Did you know that? He said in Luke, he does in Luke. He doesn’t do it in Matthew. In Luke he puts it this way, “If you have a son and he asks for a loaf of bread, will you give him a stone? If he asks for a fish, will you give him a serpent? If he asks for an egg, will you give him a scorpion? If you then being evil know how to give good gifts unto your children how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to them that ask.” You know when I was a kid I used to, I watched way too much television and I used to watch that dumb program “I Dream of Jeannie”. My mother did a musical for Broadway called “Arabian Nights” called “Shahar Azad”. She wrote a musical, beautiful songs, and so my mind was always fluttering around with these fairy tales the Arabian Nights and I used to fantasize that I would get a genie in a bottle. Anyone else ever do that? Let me see. Am I alone? Good, thank you. And I was always irritated whenever I read the stories or you saw the programs because they’d say, “You got three wishes,” and everybody always wastes their wishes. What is the only appropriate first wish? More wishes or more genies or more bottles, right? But they’d squander their wishes. I heard a story a little while ago. I don’t know maybe I shouldn’t tell this in church but these three guys that are friends are stranded on a deserted island and after several years of just living off a few coconut trees and a few fish that wash up on the shore, a genie bottle washes up on the shore. They all see it in they’re so glad to see something novel and new they all rush because you know whoever claims it first owns it.

They all grab it at the same time and the genie pops out and the genie looks around, he sees three guys. He says, “Okay, we’ve got a problem here.” He said, “I give out three wishes to the finder. You’ve all three found me at the same time. You each get one wish.” The first guy doesn’t hesitate. He says, “I’m going to try this. I wish right now that I could be in New York City eating at a smorgasbord.” Poof! He disappeared. The other guy saw his friend disappear and he says, “I wish right now that I could be in Aspen, Colorado skiing down a mountain.” Poof! He disappeared. The other guy is now by himself and he’s not as bright as the first two, and he says, “How many wishes?” The genie says, “One wish.” He says, “Oh, my. I’m not sure what to ask for. I wish my friends were here.” Always waste their wishes. What would you ask for if someone like Elijah… I mean this guy prays and fire comes down from heaven. He prays and it doesn’t rain, and then he prays and it pours. And he’s about to say, “Look, I’m getting ready to go to heaven. The Lord is sending a personal limo for me. Something I can do for you before I leave? Ask!” It makes me think of Solomon. The Lord appeared to him and he said, “Ask what you want.” What did Solomon ask for? Everybody says wisdom, but it never really says that he asked for wisdom. Did you know that? It says that he asked for “a wise and understanding heart that he might know how to discern between good and evil.” Do you know what he asked for?

The Holy Spirit because one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is wisdom, and it was the Spirit that gave him the wisdom. The Bible says in James. “If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God.” It’s one of the gifts of the Spirit. And so when God said to Solomon, “What do you want?” He said, “I want the Spirit.” And God gave him more than anybody before him. And what is it that Elisha asked for? The same thing you and I should be asking for. The greatest need of the church, your need and my need, our greatest need is what? The Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit is God in us and that’s our greatest need. He said, “Ask what I should do for you before I am taken away from you.” And Elisha without hesitation, he said, “Please let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” Why do you think he asked for a double portion? I’ve got some suspicions. First of all, if you read in the Bible in Deuteronomy 21:17 according to the Mosaic Law the firstborn son was to receive a double portion of the father’s inheritance.

Now Elijah never got married. No children are recorded. No Mrs. Elijah that we know about. Elisha left his family. He left his inheritance to his younger brothers and he went to follow Elijah and he looked upon him as his father. Matter of fact, when Elijah goes to heaven Elisha says, “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof!” He was saying, “I want your inheritance. I want a double portion of your inheritance,” and the only thing that Elijah had was the spirit and power of God. He said, “Well then I want a double portion!” Another reason I think is if you read in I Samuel 1:5, you remember Elkanah? He wanted to show Hannah his wife he loved her even though she had no children like Peninnah and so he gave Hannah a double portion to show her he loved her. You read that. And so when Elisha asked for a double portion he’s saying, “I want to know that I’m your son and I want to know that you love me.” Now was hiding greedy? Maybe, but it’s okay to be greedy for the right things. Is it a sin to covet? It depends on what you’re coveting. The Bible says covet you’re commanded to covet earnestly the best gifts. Amen? And what is the best gift? The Holy Spirit and so Elisha said, “I want a double portion of your spirit.”

Well it would have been a lot to have a double portion of Nathan’s spirit. Have a double portion of Gideon’s spirit. He wanted a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. That’s industrial strength! Amen? He said, I like this, he said in verse ten, “You’ve asked a hard thing.” Now I sort of think, I might be reading too much into this but I don’t think Elijah was irritated. I think Elijah was beaming when he said that. He said, “You’ve asked a big thing.” Is the Lord pleased when we ask a big thing? I mean I can’t find in the Bible a case where somebody asked something from the Lord and the Lord said, “Could you scale that back a little bit? That’s too much for me.” I mean you look through the Bible, whenever people ask great things from God, God smiles and says, “Hey, I like that!” and he gives it to them. You know Joshua was fighting a battle and they’re running out of time, he says, “Lord, make the sun stand still.” The Lord said, “I can do that.” Hezekiah says, “It’s nothing for the sun to go down 10° have it go back 10°.” The Lord says, “I can do that.” I heard one time about a man who was in Alexander the Great’s army, supposed to be a true story, and he did some exploit in battle that really pleased the king and Alexander issued a command, he said, “You go to the treasurer and you ask for a reward and he’ll give you what you ask for.” So the soldier liked that. He went to the treasurer for Alexander the Great, he asked for this fabulous amount of money and the treasurer nearly choked. The he went to Alexander and he said, “Are you aware of what he’s asking for?” And Alexander said, “I like him. He's got spunk.” He said, “He thinks I’m generous and he thinks I’m rich because he’s asking for so much.” Now if Alexander can respond that way then you think your heavenly Father is going to be exhausted by your request? If you’re going to ask, ask big. Amen?

The Lord says, “Ask,” and he doesn’t mean pray the sun comes up another day. He wants you to pray for the unexpected, pray for miracles, pray for great things! Just yesterday I was in my plane getting ready to fly back, one of the workers at the prison drove me, he’s a Christian, drove me to the airport. The airplane had been sitting there all week. The battery was dead and I wanted to get going so I can get back before Sabbath and I tried and tried and the thing just went, “uh, uh, uh,” didn’t budge when I turned the key so I said, “Let’s pray.” We prayed together, turned it and it started. That did a lot for my faith. You ever have those experiences before? I’m sure there’s a mechanic here who will explain how that all works but for me it’s a miracle. What do you think it does for your faith when you pray an unusual prayer and you get an unusual answer? Your faith grows so God wants us to ask and he wants us to ask big. Pray for great things and Jesus said, “Be it unto you according to your faith.” Amen? He says, “You’ve asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken up from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.” There is a criteria for the promise being fulfilled. There is a criteria for the request being met. Do you know what that criteria was? Elijah basically said, “If you see me taken up you will receive this double portion of the spirit.” Can I rephrase that? If you see me lifted up then you’ll receive it.

Where is it that we received God’s Spirit? Christ said, “If I am lifted up, I will draw all men.” If you and I see Christ exalted, if we see him crucified, we see that he’s ascended and he ever lives to make intercession for you and me that inspires us where we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit. If you and I see him lifted up. Have you seen Christ ascend for you? “Then it happened, as they continued on and they talked…” Do you know when the miracle took place? There was no drum roll, there was no eerie music; they were walking and talking as intimate friends communing as they had done hundreds of times before as they traveled the dusty trails of Israel. He walks with me and he talks with me. When was the Holy Spirit poured out? The disciples were hanging out together praying in one accord spending quality time together. How do you think we’re going to receive the Holy Spirit? Do you think you’ll get a handbill in the mail that gives the date and the place? Or will it be happening in the regular, quiet communion and devotions that you have as you walk and talk with the Lord? Amen? You know if you’re with somebody all the time and one of these days they’re going to get caught up to heaven, if you’re with them all the time odds are you’ll be there when it happens. If you’re sporadic in your being with them the chances increase you’re going to miss the big event. Do you know what I’m saying? Wouldn’t it be terrible if the apostle Peter picked the day of Pentecost to get the blue light special at Kmart? I mean after all it was a Sunday. You can go shopping then, right? And he comes back and everybody’s got tons of fire and they’re speaking new languages and he goes, “I missed it!” He would have missed the sermon too because he preached it. And you know I worry because you always hear me harping on this, but I still say it’s important, friends, if we don’t have enough faith to get us to church, we don’t have enough to get us to heaven.

Some of us are so sporadic in our church attendance and our participation it’s like we try and fit God into our schedules a little bit. If you’re getting ready for the Second Coming of Jesus and, friends, I’ll tell you, it’s show time. He’s coming! Then we need to be consistently following him, and if you’re doing that now you won’t miss it when he pours out the Spirit. Amen? You want to be there when it happens. They were walking and talking together just as you and I have the privilege to do right now “that suddenly, suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” This vortex, this tornado of angels and fire and light came and went between them and Elijah is caught up. Now I don’t think there were ponies snorting and galloping. In the Bible you’ll find that God’s angels and God’s armies are often called chariots of fire. You remember the good theology in the spiritual “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot coming for to carry me home… looked over Jordan and what did I see? Band full of angels…” It doesn’t say horses and ponies, right? “…coming after me.” What was that chariot of fire? Angels came down to catch Elijah up. What came to receive Christ? He was caught up into the clouds and those were clouds of? And he’s coming in clouds of angels. Amen. And they were “separated the two of them… went up” Now it says chariot of fire, horses of fire. Isn’t it interesting?

The Bible says, “Unless you’re born of the water and the Spirit you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” Elijah ran in the rain, that miraculous rain, remember he ran before Ahab? He ran in the rain, he was soaked in the rain, baptized in the rain and now he’s surrounded by fire as he goes to heaven. Born of the water, born of the Spirit. You’ve probably heard me share before that our world that will someday be made new was baptized in water in the days of Noah. It will be baptized in fire 2nd Peter tells us when Jesus comes again then he makes a new earth. Even the world is born of the water and born of the Spirit. Now I’ve got news for you. Nothing will be in the kingdom unless it’s born of the water and born of the Spirit. How many of you have been baptized in water? Incidentally, if some of you didn’t raise your hands, you need to be. If you want a accept Jesus, it’s a marriage to Christ. Baptism is very important. It’s as important to a Christian as a wedding is to a marriage. Now you’ve been baptized in water that’s good, but it’s not enough. There was enough for the apostles. They had been baptized in water and they were all arguing for the highest place. It wasn’t until they were baptized in the fire, the Spirit, tongues of fire on their head they were prepared to really work for the Lord. Even Jesus at his baptism he came out of the water, the Spirit came down. We not only need the baptism of water, friends, we need the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Amen?

A lot of Seventh-day Adventists sometimes are afraid to talk about baptism of the Holy Ghost because our Charismatic friends have sort of gotten a corner on that, you know, and they always talk about speaking in tongues in connection with baptism of the Holy Spirit. My Bible tells me that God gives us the Holy Spirit not to speak in tongues but that we might be his witnesses. Acts chapter four says he poured out the Holy Spirit and “they spoke the word of God.” It didn’t even say tongues there. But we need the Holy Spirit to live a holy life, to do a holy work. It’s the greatest need and how are we going to get it? The same way Elijah did, Elisha! I knew it would happen! I really was trying. He followed. He consistently followed. Amen? And that’s how we’re going to receive the Spirit. “And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, ‘My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!’” Do you know what he meant by that? Our strength is not in earthly armies. Elijah stood against all the armies of Israel. He stood against all these other kingdoms. He was the power of God “the chariot of Israel and the horsemen.” Notice this, “So he saw him no more.” You know Jesus I can’t see him now but he told me, “Blessed are those who believe without seeing.” He said, “I am with you always.” “And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.” Verse 13, and “He took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him.” Now friends, this is very, very, very important.

Now I’m a bit of a romantic and I can’t prove the first part here, but I sort of picture that when Elijah is going up into glory with these angels… Can you imagine what it would be like? Somewhere between when he left the ground and got up into the air in a moment in the twinkling of the eye he received a glorified body. All of a sudden he had a robe of light and he looked at this old robe he was carrying, he thought, I won’t need this anymore. Then he saw his friend Elisha down there and he not only wanted to leave the spirit, he wanted to leave the robe and he tossed the robe down to him. He says, “I want to leave something for you.” He says, “You no longer are my apprentice. You are the prophet of Israel. I am giving you the power that God gave me. As the father sent me, so send I you.” And he’s on his way to heaven. I can just hear him say to the angels, “whoa, whoa! Hang on.” And they stop, and the angels are amazed. Most people would want to go right away, you know. And while the toll is running he said, “Hang on.” And he tossed his robe as his final act to Elisha.

Who does Elijah represent? You know it’s interesting to me that Christ suffering the most incredible agony on the cross never failed to hear a plea for help, thought about his mother being without sustenance and committed her to John; heard the thief on the cross crying for mercy. Elijah like Christ on his way to heaven he thinks to stop and throw the robe back down to Elijah, or to Elisha. That’s twice, sorry. Now what does Elisha do? He takes his garments. What are our garments compared to? Filthy rags. He tears his and he takes up Elijah’s robe. Can there be any more vivid description of salvation in the Bible than that? We come to Christ and we have filthy rags and we get the imputed righteousness of Christ. We tear ours and we take up his. Like Bartimaeus threw aside his rags and he came to Christ like he was and his eyes were opened. He tore his in two parts meaning he’d never wear them again, and he “took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him, and he went back to the Jordan. Then he took the mantle that had fallen from him,” and he rolls it up kind of like a rod and he strikes the water and he says, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” Now that’s not a question of doubt; he is claiming a promise. He is saying, “You promised if I saw him taken up that I would receive a double portion of the spirit and now I’d like to see that. Where is the Lord God of Elijah? I want the spirit of Elijah.” And he struck the water and the same thing happened. It parted right and left and he went over on dry ground.

You know what I think is wonderful about this story? The first time that Elisha felt that robe, that mantle, Elijah walked by him and he placed it on his shoulders temporarily and he said, “You are being called.” And placing his mantle on his shoulders temporarily he understood he was being called, but Elijah took it back and put it on his own shoulders. He says, “I’m lending it to you to make a point,” but now it’s his for keeps. When you and I come to Christ he covers our sin with his robe, but you know what? He gives us clean robes in Revelation, doesn’t he? He wants us to have our own righteousness now. That’s a very, I got to qualify that statement. You and I are saved by the righteousness of Jesus but do you know what he wants you to be righteous. Amen? Someday the Laundromat is going to be closed and you and I can’t forever be sinning and confessing. God wants us to be holy. And he came back and he said, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” “And when he said that he struck the water and it divided this way and that; and Elisha crossed over. And the sons of the prophets who were from Jericho saw him” he doesn’t even open his mouth. They “saw him, they said, ‘The spirit of Elijah rests on Elijah.’ And they came to him, and they bowed to the ground before him.” Not to worship him, but to acknowledge him now as the supreme prophet in Israel. How did he get the spirit? By following. You know I want to close this series by going back where we started. Turn with me to the book of Malachi, please, chapter 4, last book, last chapter in the Old Testament; verse 4, verse 5, and I’m hoping that all of a sudden the last puzzle piece is pressed into position and it will click in your minds.

How many of you have been here for the whole series? I have. Verse 4, “Remember the Law of Moses, my servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold I send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.” The Law of Moses and the prophets, the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus. They crossed the Jordan the first time with the Law, they crossed the Jordan the second time with Elijah. Did you get that? The Jordan is death. The Law and the prophets. This is a characteristic of God’s people. The law and the testimony, the word of God. That’s what it is. This is the law and the prophets. Who is the first one who had the spirit and power of Elijah? Well, Elijah was the first one who had the spirit and power of Elijah. Then Elisha had the spirit and power of Elijah. Then John the Baptist had the spirit and power of Elijah. Do you think that’s the last of it or did God say, “I send you Elijah the prophet before the great and dreadful day of the Lord”? And that great and dreadful day of the Lord is speaking of the Judgment Day, the Second Coming.

God is wanting a people who will be filled with a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. If anyone needed it, we need a triple portion of it now. Amen? When you think of what we have to contend with. How are we going to get that to do the work of preparing the world for Jesus’ Second Coming? The same way Elisha got it; the same way John the Baptist got it, through consistently clinging to and following tenaciously seeking after God by having the word of God, the law and the prophets in our mind and in our home; by not being discouraged or distracted no matter what might come; following all the way. The Bible says, “Unless you are born of the water and born of the Spirit you cannot enter the kingdom of God.” The teachings on the subject of baptism both water and the spirit are very clear. There may be some of you here today who have not yet made a decision to have your sins washed away in the blood of Jesus, and that’s what that water symbolizes. There’s no power in the H2O. It’s a commitment of faith and love that you have decided to follow Jesus. There may be some of you here who have wandered from the Lord and you need to be rebaptized. Some of you need a new beginning with the Lord. You know the Bible does teach the subject of rebaptism. There’s three reasons a person might be rebaptized. One, you’ve never been baptized Biblically. You haven’t been baptized by immersion. Maybe you were sprinkled or one of these other methods, but there’s only one Biblical method.

Maybe you were baptized as a baby and the Bible says you need to do it as a conscious decision as an adult. The second reason for rebaptism is you married the Lord one time but you divorced him. You stopped coming to church. You drifted away. You backslid. You know even in our society if a person gets divorced and they want to get back together they have to get remarried. That doesn’t mean you slip and miss church one week or you make a mistake every time you’ve got to get rebaptized, but if in a major public way you have distanced yourself from the Lord you may want to be rebaptized and return. Some are rebaptized like in Acts chapter 19 because they come into a whole new understanding of the truth, they didn’t really know what was involved in their first commitment and now they’re ready to make a serious decision based on their understanding to be filled with the Spirit and to be washed in the Word. If you fit into any of these categories and you need a new beginning or again if some of you are hearing the Holy Spirit plead and you’ve not been baptized come and join these at the front.

If you recognize that it’s not enough to simply be baptized in the water but you need to be baptized in the Spirit and you’re craving that purging experience in your life and you’d like to say, “Lord, I’m asking now like Elisha, like Solomon, I’m asking now for the greatest gift, I’m coveting the best gift; I want to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit knowing that we cannot make it through the times ahead without the fullness of God’s Spirit in our lives. Peter said, when they said, “Men and brethren what shall we do?” He said, “Repent and be baptized.” A lot of people stop there. Peter went on, he said, “Repent and the baptized and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit for the promise is unto you and your children and as many as the Lord God shall call.” God wants us to not only be baptized in the water but he’s promised the gift of the Spirit. If you’d like to ask for that gift and receive it by faith now would you lift your hand in God’s presence and say, “Lord, wash me in your Spirit.”

Father in heaven, Lord, we know that we’re powerless but we believe that through Christ all things are possible. Doing all things through Christ we know represents having his Spirit in us. Lord, we want to be Spirit possessed with the Holy Spirit. We, like Daniel, want to be recognized as having that Spirit in our minds and in our hearts. Lord, right now we’re praying that you will baptize us in the Holy Ghost. We know Jesus is coming soon. We know that this is our greatest most desperate need. You’ve told us in your word and inspired writings and, Lord, we’re not praying now but we’re going to be praying now and always for that gift. Give us the Holy Spirit. You did it for Elisha, you did it for Elijah, for John the Baptist, you did it, Lord, for Solomon when he asked, we believe you’ll do it for us when we ask. Lord, please give us the Holy Spirit. You have told us that you are more willing to give us gifts than we are to give our earthly children. Jesus has told us that we’re reluctant to ask, ask that our joy might be full and even the gift of joy comes from the Holy Spirit. We know, Lord, that it’s impossible for us to live a holy life without the Holy Ghost and so now, Lord, we’re asking for this as a gift. Not only are we asking for the Spirit, we’re asking that you help us to rend these filthy rags that we parade and take up the righteous robe that Jesus has provided. We’re praying, Lord, that we can not only have his righteousness as a mantle imputed, but we want it to be our own, a gift imparted. Help us to be sanctified by your Spirit. Bless us now as we go from this place and I pray that people will know that we’ve been with you just like they recognized Elisha had the spirit of Elijah. And it’s in Christ’s name we ask. Amen.

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