Grades 3-6 Sunday School Lesson
Elijah: Where God Guides, He Provides
Lesson 6: God Provides Proof of His Presence
Author’s Notes: This week’s lesson will be the last in our series on Elijah, and God’s provision. Over the past few weeks, we have seen the Lord provide for Elijah in many wondrous ways. And today, we’re going to see Him provide for Elijah one last time, before taking him miraculously to Heaven. We’ll see that God provides Elijah, and his companion Elisha, with proof of His presence with them. And while we may not see God part the water, we can still know that He is also present with us, too; because He tells us in His Word that He will never leave us or forsake us. What a great comfort that was to God’s prophets, to be provided with proof of His presence.
We will be learning today’s memory verse in just a moment. It says this: “…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5b Our Heavenly Father has promised to always be with us. But how can we know, for sure, that He’s really there when we can’t see Him?
There’s an American Indian legend that I’d like to share with you, today. It goes something like this:
In the life of every young Cherokee boy, there came a time when he had to prove that he was a man. To do this, the boy’s father would take him into the forest, blindfold him, and sit him down on a stump. He was told he would have to remain there through the night without calling out for help. And he was not to lift the blindfold until he could feel the rays of the morning sun shining through the trees.
Once he made it through that night, he was considered a man. And he was not to share his experience with any of the other boys, because each one must move into manhood on their own.
The legend goes on to tell of one such boy. His father led him into the forest, and put the blindfold over his eyes. He was told to remain on the tree stump with the blindfold firmly in place until morning. Throughout the night, the boy could hear frightening noises. He probably imagined all sorts of wild animals closing in on him. Perhaps he could feel creatures crawling over him as he sat, alone, on that stump. It probably was, without doubt, the most terrifying night of his young life.
Finally, the morning sun began streaming through the trees. The boy’s ordeal was over, and he could remove the blindfold. And as he did, the very first thing he saw was his father… sitting on a stump only a few feet away. He had been there throughout the entire night, keeping careful watch over his son.
Do you think that you would have been able to make it through the night, as those Cherokee boys had to, in order to become young men?
And how do you think it would be if you knew that your father was right there with you the whole time? The dark of the night, and the scary noises of the forest might still be frightening. But not nearly as much, knowing your father was right there to help you if anything were to happen.
And that’s just the way it is with us, and our Heavenly Father. Although we can’t see Him, He has promised to always be there for us. We may still have to go through scary situations and tests. But we don’t have to be afraid, because we know that God is right there to help us. In fact, each and every day there are probably things happening around us that we might not even know about; but God is there to take care of us.
He was there for Elijah, and his new companion Elisha, too. But in our lesson today, we’re going to see that God did something very special for these two prophets so that they could know beyond any doubt that He was with them, and had the power to help them.
Let’s learn today’s memory verse. Then find out how God provided Elijah and Elisha with proof of His presence and power.
Memory verse: (Have the children repeat this verse with you several times, until they are able to say it themselves. And encourage them to repeat it to others several times during the week, so that it’ll have a place in their hearts.)
“…for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”
Opening prayer: Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today. And thank You for Your Word, The Bible, where we can learn new truths about You. Help each one of us here, today, to be attentive to what You would have us learn. Give us open ears and hearts, ready to listen to Your words. Amen.
This Week’s Lesson: Elisha joins Elijah, and witnesses the provision and power of God (1 Kings 19:15, 19-21 and 2 Kings 2:1-15
In last week’s lesson, we learned that God was going to provide another prophet to replace Elijah. The new prophet’s name was Elisha. And God sent Elijah to find Elisha, and anoint him to be a prophet in Israel. Let’s look back at last week’s scripture passage to refresh our memories.
(1 Kings 19)
15And the LORD said unto him [Elijah], Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:
16And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.
That was a big relief for Elijah! At one time, he thought he was the only person left if all of Israel who had not begun worshipping Baal. But God had revealed to Elijah that there were seven thousand more Israelites who were still loyal to Him; one of them being Elisha. And as the time drew closer for Elijah’s ministry to be done, God was already preparing another to take his place. Israel would not be left without someone to bring them God’s messages. So Elijah did what the Lord told him to.
19So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him.
20And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee?
What was Elisha doing when Elijah found him? He was plowing in a field. Would you have thought God would call a farmer to be a prophet? Remember we learned a few weeks ago that God isn’t necessarily looking for someone with great abilities to become a great servant for Him. The ability He is looking for is availability. God can use anyone, anywhere, as long as they’re willing to surrender their lives to Him, and do what He wants them to do.
Sometimes God will call someone to serve Him by continuing to do what they’ve been doing all along. He may call a teacher to reach students for Him, right where they’re already teaching. He may call a businessman to start having Bible studies right in the office where they’re already working.
But sometimes when God calls, it means giving up what we’re currently doing, and leaving it behind to follow Him to a new area of service. And that’s exactly what Elisha needed to do.
Did you notice what Elijah did as he went past Elisha? He threw his mantle, or cloak, on him. That was a sign that Elijah was passing on his power and authority as a prophet of God, to Elisha. And what did Elisha do, in response? He left his oxen, and ran after Elijah.
Elisha seemed ready and willing to follow God. But he wanted to do just one thing first. What was that? He wanted to go and tell his parents goodbye. Elijah didn’t seem to be bothered by his request. His response could perhaps read, “what have I done to stop you from doing so.” Elisha then took a short time to get his life in order; and was soon ready to follow Elijah into the role of a prophet.
21And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.
What did Elisha do with the tools of his trade? He burned them. What might that tell you about his dedication to God’s call? It shows us that Elisha had no intention of going back to farming. Even if life as a prophet became difficult, there would be nothing for him to go back to. He was fully dedicating himself to service for the Lord.
Have you ever heard someone use the expression “Plan B?” When someone has a “Plan B” that means they have a back-up plan in case the first one doesn’t work. Elisha could have stored his farm equipment in a barn, and let someone else take care of his oxen in case things didn’t work out as a prophet, and he wanted to come home. But when God calls us into service, He expects His plan to be our only plan. If we have something else waiting back at home, it can be far too tempting. And our minds will not be fully focused on what God has planned for us to do. So as you get older and begin asking God what He wants you to do, don’t be looking for a Plan B, in case God’s is too hard. Do what Elisha did… dedicate yourself completely to following after God, and His will for your life.
Now the Bible doesn’t tell us how much time Elisha had with Elijah, before the end of his ministry. In fact, there is no further mention of Elisha until Elijah’s final day on earth. But we can learn a lot about Elisha, and God’s final acts of providing for Elijah, by looking at what happened on that final, miraculous day.
(2 Kings 2)
1And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.
2And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel.
3And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.
Elijah was busy working for the Lord right up until the Lord took him to Heaven. On this, his last day on earth, it appears that Elijah may have been visiting cities where other prophets were; perhaps to share God’s words with them one last time. And as he prepared to go, what did he tell Elisha to do? He told Elisha to stay where he was. Some commentators believe that Elijah said this to test Elisha’s dedication. And Elisha didn’t want to hear any such idea. He was determined to follow Elijah wherever he went.
And when Elijah and Elisha arrived at Bethel, the prophets there had a message for Elisha. But it looks like he already knew what was going to happen. What did the prophets tell him? They said that Elijah was going to be taken away from him that very day. We aren’t told how Elisha already knew this. Perhaps Elijah had told him. Or maybe the Lord, Himself, revealed it to Elisha. Regardless of how he knew, it sounds like he didn’t want to be reminded. He had gotten very close to Elijah, and was not looking forward to saying goodbye to him. But Elisha would soon find himself being reminded again.
4And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho.
5And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.
Can’t you just imagine Elisha perhaps putting his hands over his ears, so he wouldn’t have to hear, once again, that Elijah was going to be leaving him?
6And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the LORD hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on.
Elisha made it very clear that he had no intention of leaving Elijah’s side on this day. Some believe it was because when someone was dying, they often gave a blessing to those they were leaving behind, especially their children. Perhaps Elisha felt that if Elijah had a blessing to give before he left, he wanted to be sure he was there to receive it!
That’s a great lesson for us, too. Are you and I putting ourselves in a place where God can bless us, if He chooses to? If we are obeying Him, and living in a way that’s pleasing Him, then we are in a place where He can bless us. But if we’re living outside of God’s will, and doing things that are displeasing to Him, then He cannot bless us until we make things right with Him. Elisha wanted to be absolutely sure he was in the right place at the right time to be blessed. And that meant staying as close to this man of God, Elijah, as he possibly could. And he would soon find his determination rewarded by God!
7And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan.
8And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground.
The mantle that Elijah had here is the same one he had cast upon Elisha when he found him plowing the field. It was a cloak that identified him as a prophet of God; and carried the power and authority of God. Elijah, in his own power, would not have been able to divide the water so they could walk right through the Jordan River on dry ground. But it was certainly something God could do!
Can anyone think of another time that God did something like this? God gave Moses the power and authority to part the waters of the Red Sea for the Israelites to go across, and escape from the Egyptian army. God also parted the waters of the Jordan River many years before, so the Israelites could cross on dry ground, into the Promised Land.
God was probably using this as an opportunity to remind both Elijah and Elisha of His presence in Israel, and the many times He had provided His power to help the children of Israel. And now that same power and authority were available to His prophet Elijah.
And don’t miss the fact that there were other witnesses to that great miracle, too. Did you notice that there were fifty men (the sons of the prophets) who stood at a distance and watched. They, too, were witnesses to the power and authority that God had given to Elijah. And later, they would be able to testify that the same spirit could be seen in Elisha.
In fact, it was that spirit that Elisha asked for when the moment of blessing from Elijah finally came.
9And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.
There were many things that Elisha could have asked Elijah for. He could have asked for great wealth or fame. He could have asked for good health or long life. But what did he ask for? Elisha requested that a “double portion of thy spirit be upon me.” Many Bible scholars believe that this was not a greedy request from Elisha. They feel that it reflects the close relationship between Elijah and Elisha. In the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy there is a law that says when children receive their inheritance, the firstborn son is to receive a double portion.
So in asking Elijah for a double portion of his spirit, Elisha is asking for the inheritance like a firstborn son would receive from his father. He considered Elijah to be his spiritual father, who had taught him what it means to be a prophet of God. Elijah had already cast his mantle on him, demonstrating God’s will that Elisha should inherit his position as prophet. Elisha was now proving his willingness to follow God’s will for him; and he wanted to do so in the power of the spirit that was in Elijah.
But was that a request Elijah could honor?
10And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.
What was Elijah’s response to Elisha’s request? Did he immediately say “yes?” No, he couldn’t. It was not up to Elijah to choose who would have the presence of God’s spirit with him, and who would not. God had chosen to have His spirit in Elijah. And God had chosen Elisha to replace Elijah. So it could be that God would allow His spirit to dwell with Elisha, too. But Elijah could not say, for sure, that this would happen. Keep in mind that in Old Testament time, the Holy Spirit did not dwell inside all of those who trusted in God. After Jesus went to Heaven, following His resurrection, He sent His Holy Spirit back to indwell all of those who received Jesus as their Savior. But in Old Testament times, He indwelt only a few.
What Elijah could do, however, was offer Elisha a sign of what would happen. How would Elisha know whether his request had been granted? Elisha knew that Elijah was going to be taken from him that day. What he didn’t know was exactly when or how it would happen. But Elijah told him that if he saw Elijah being taken away, then he would receive that double portion of the spirit in Elijah, just as he asked.
Elisha had just spent the day insisting that he would not leave Elijah’s side. Can you imagine how he must have felt, now? There is no way anything could have taken Elisha out of Elijah’s sight!
And then, the moment Elisha had been dreading arrived in a whirlwind:
11And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
12And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.
How was Elijah taken to Heaven? A chariot of fire, with horses of fire, came with a whirlwind to get him. Did Elijah die first? No! It appears that Elijah was taken alive, up into Heaven. We know of only one other person in the Bible who didn’t die. A man named Enoch also was taken directly into Heaven by God.
And how did Elisha react to seeing his friend and mentor taken away? He cried out to him. Then tore his own clothes in pieces. What a difficult thing it must have been, to see Elijah taken away so suddenly. But something was left behind that brought great comfort and encouragement to Elisha. Can anyone guess what Elijah might have left behind?
13He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan;
Elijah would have no more need of a symbol that God’s presence, power, and authority were with him. Elijah was now standing in the very presence of God, in Heaven. So his mantle was left behind, as a sign that God’s presence and power now rested in another. How would Elisha know that God’s spirit was now with him? Just as God has promised to be with us, but we cannot see him, Elisha had also been promised that God’s spirit would be with him. He saw Elijah being taken away. And that was the sign Elijah had promised that would show his request was granted.
But sometimes it’s hard to believe that God’s presence is really there, with us. And that’s just how Elisha was feeling. He wanted to be sure that all that had been promised was true. God knew that Elisha needed some extra assurance. And He knew just what Elisha needed to convince him that God was right there with him, supplying the same power and authority that had been in Elijah. The mantle was left, and Elisha took it as his own.
14And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.
Not only did God have Elijah leave his mantle for Elisha (a symbol of the presence of the spirit that was now in him), but He was also ready to demonstrate that power for others to see. What miracle did God repeat, this time through Elisha? God parted the waters of the Jordan River, using the mantle in the hands of Elisha. And do you remember those fifty men who were watching from a distance? They had seen Elijah use his mantle to part the Jordan River. And only a little while later, they saw Elisha return with that same mantle, and perform the same miracle. What do you suppose they concluded when they saw this?
15And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.
Immediately, those men recognized the spirit in Elisha. It was the same spirit that had been in Elijah. God had proven to those men, and to Elisha, himself, that He was now with Elisha; ready and able to fill him with the same power that had been in Elijah.
God didn’t have to part the waters, again, to prove that His spirit was now with Elisha. But He wanted Elisha to have such assurance of His presence that he would never doubt its reality. So in His great grace and love, He provided Elisha with that extra glimpse of His power.
Has God ever parted a river for you? Probably not! Could He if He chose to? Yes, He could. But God has already given us something that Elisha had. When we ask Jesus to come into our hearts and lives, God sends His Holy Spirit to dwell in our hearts. He’s always with us, just as He was with Elijah and Elisha.
How can we know that He’s there? When we spend time in prayer and reading His Word, God can speak directly to our hearts. He can give us peace and assurance that we are not alone. Our memory verse is a guarantee of just that! He will never leave or forsake us. He also takes care of us, and supplies our needs. Do you have that Spirit living in you? If not, today could be the day when you receive that inheritance that Elisha asked for. Won’t you consider opening your heart to Him, today?
Closing Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for this study we have done on the life of Elijah. And thank You for reminding us of the many ways you provided for Elijah’s needs; and still provide for ours, today. If there’s anyone here who has not known Your provision in their lives because they have not trusted Jesus as their Savior, I pray that You would speak to their hearts even now. And help them see their need for You. For we pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Activity: (Review Questions)
Fill in the Blanks
True or False
1. Elisha knew he had been chosen as God’s prophet when Elijah shook his hand. (false – He knew when Elijah cast his mantle on him)
2. Before he became a prophet, Elisha was using oxen to plow a field. (true)
3. Elijah invited Elisha to join him as he traveled to several cities. (false – Elijah encouraged Elisha to stay behind.)
4. No one besides Elisha saw Elijah part the Jordan River. (false – There were fifty men who also witnessed the miracle)
5. Elisha parted the Jordan River, just as Elijah had done. (true)