Waiting on the Whirlwind
2 Kings 2 1-14
The life of Elijah has been a whirlwind of activity! From the time he stepped out of nowhere to confront the king of Israel, to his adventures of faith at the dry brook and the widow’s house, to his great victory on Mount Carmel and to his fall into and restoration from defeat and disuse. Elijah’s life has been tempestuous to say the least! Now, that life is about to end! Verse one of our scripture makes it clear that God is about to remove the prophet from this earth. He will leave here
like he lived here; in a whirlwind!
As Elijah lives out the last days and hours of his life, it is interesting to see how he conducted himself. He didn’t live like a man who knows his time is short. He actually lives like a man who thinks he has plenty of time. It is this time just before Elijah is taken into heaven that I want to focus on in today’s sermon entitled
“Waiting on the Whirlwind”
I believe that Elijah sets a great example for those who are waiting on that time when they too will leave this world. If we were to be honest today, every saved person would normally and readily admit that they are anxiously awaiting that time when they will be home with the Lord in glory. But, what are we to be doing here, in the meantime, while we wait? Elijah shows us in this passage! As we read this account, we find there are three ways that Elijah spent his time as he waited on the whirlwind. One of these days all of our journeys will be over. Those who are saved will leave this world either by way of the cemetery or by way of the Rapture of the Church. Either way, we will leave here in
a whirlwind – Swept away into the presence of God.
Until that day comes, we must live our lives in a way that is pleasing to the Lord and in a way that honours His will. Elijah shows us how to do just that. Let’s look in on Elijah and see the ways he spent his time
as we think on the subject, – Waiting On The Whirlwind.
In 2 Kings 2 Verse 1 shows us that
IT WAS A TIME OF WATCHING
Watching For A Precious Event – According to this verse, it seems that Elijah foreknew the amazing truth that he was going to get to go to Heaven without having to pass through death. This was a privilege that had only been enjoyed by one other person in history. Genesis 5:21-24 tells that story of a man named Enoch. He was a man who lived for and walked with God. When his time here was over, God simply took Enoch to Heaven, without him having to pass through death! This is the same event that Elijah was anticipating.
By the way, this is something that could happen to you and to me! As I mentioned a few weeks ago, in my Sermon entitled Rapture Ready, the Bible teaches us that there will be a future event know as the catching away of the Church. At that time, the Lord Jesus Christ will return in the clouds above this earth and He will call His people home to Heaven, 1 Thes. 4:13-18. This is a momentous event that could happen to us at any time, 1 Cor. 15:51-52, and when it does, we will go to Heaven without having to die to get there. That excites me! I think I’ll just repeat the prayer John prayed on Patmos: “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”, Rev. 22:20. That is the thing that Elijah was anticipating, and if you are saved, you too should be anticipating such a precious event!
Jesus is coming and I am certain that His coming is sooner than most of us realize!
Elijah was waiting also For A Promised Event – As one reads these verses, it quickly becomes apparent that everyone knew what was coming. The sons of the prophets knew, verses 3, 5, & 7.
Elisha knew, verses 2-6. As I have already said, Elijah himself knew about it. So, this wasn’t a secret event! It was something people had heard about and could prepare themselves for.
So it is with the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is not something that has been hidden from men. Jesus predicted it during His life, John 14:3. The New Testament writers predicted it repeatedly. Paul, John and Peter all wrote about it. It is something that is well documented on the pages of the Bible.
Therefore, there is no excuse for it taking any of us by surprise. There is no excuse for not being ready for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ! If you are saved and yet your lifestyle isn’t the kind that you would want Jesus to see when He would return … then do something about it! If you are lost and don’t want to be left here for the hell of the Tribulation and the hell of Hell, then
do something about that too! The door for you to be saved is still wide open today! If you will come to Jesus, by faith, He will save your precious soul and prepare you for His return!
Elijah was also waiting For A Private Event – Even though all these people knew it was coming, no one knew when it would happen! Elijah knew that God was coming for him, but he didn’t know just when. Therefore, he lived his last weeks, days and hours in anticipation of, and in preparation for, that coming event.
The same is true concerning the return of Jesus for His people. The Bible is clear when it tells us that it will happen, but it is also clear when it tells us that we do not know when it will happen. Jesus said: “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”, Matt. 24:v36. Therefore, we must be certain that we are ready for His coming at all times! If you aren’t ready, there is time to do so is now! Remember these sobering words from the mouth of the Lord Jesus,
“Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” Matt. 24:44.
So for Elijah, … It Was A Time of Watching
verses 2-11 show us that IT WAS A TIME OF WALKING
We see in verses 1-6 that he was Walking With Purpose – As Elijah anticipated his departure from this world, he continued to live as he always had. He continued to walk in humble obedience before the Lord God! Notice his statement, “The LORD hath sent me…”, v. 2, 4, & 6. If Elijah had been like many in our day, he would have spent his last days on the earth in retirement from service. He would have spent his time doing all the things he hadn’t had time to do while he was active serving the Lord. However, Elijah knew a truth that many people never learn:
There is no higher call than that of following the Lord
and doing what He bids you to do!
The lesson for us is this: there will never come a day when we can quit serving the Lord. Even though we know we are leaving, and that our leaving could be today, we should still seek to live lives that are filled with surrender to the call of the Lord Jesus. Several years ago, there was a group of people in Texas who became convinced that Jesus was going to return on a given date. As a result, they sold all their possessions, quit their jobs and went to the top of a mountain, sat down and waited for the Rapture? That is not what God wants you and me to be doing! He wants us to be busy in His work until He returns to take us home
to the glory!
This was the problem in Thessalonica, 2 Thes. 3:11-13. These people were looking for Jesus to return at any moment, so they just quit doing anything… that is not God’s plan!
If we want to take a Biblical example, let us look at the book of Nehemiah. As he and his workers were being threatened by their enemies, they worked with one hand and held a weapon in the other, Neh. 4:17. In other words, they watched as they worked all at the same time! I will say it again, there will never come a day when we can quit or should stop serving the Lord! If you have been guilty of quitting on the Lord, let me encourage you to pick up your tools again! There is a work to be done! Let us work until Jesus comes for us, whether it be in the clouds or in the casket? Let us work until we see His face, then we shall enter
into our time of perfect rest, Heb. 4:v9.
Verse 1-7 show that Elijah too was
Walking With Progress – As the Lord led Elijah from place to place, God was bringing the prophet to that spot from which he intended to remove him from the world. For Elijah, these places he visited allowed him the opportunity to visit the schools of the prophets. He was permitted here to speak to the young men who were training to serve the Lord. He was allowed to be an encouragement to them. These places also gave Elijah the opportunity to reminisce about his life and how the Lord had worked in it – so powerfully and so wonderfully. Let’s take a moment to look at each of these places Elijah visited and note
the significance that each held for the prophet.
There was Gilgal – v. 1 – Gilgal was the first place Israel camped when they crossed the Jordan and entered the promised land. Gilgal was the place of new beginnings. Here, they were near the battles, but not fighting them yet. They were in a place of safety, of preparation, and a place of communion with the Lord. Here, they renewed their covenants and grew strong in their relationship with the
Lord. For Elijah it was time for him to remember how it all began. How the Lord called him and filled him to use him for the good of others and the glory of God.
Then there was Bethel – v. 2-3 – Bethel was a holy place for the people of Israel. It was at Bethel that the patriarch Jacob had met with God, Gen. 28:11-22. Bethel signified the place of the altar and of total dependence upon the Lord. Bethel was the place of revelation. Bethel was a place where God became known and where He became big in the eyes of those who worship Him. For Elijah, Bethel was a place to reflect upon all the altars he had experienced in his life. He remembered how his life had been one lived in total dependence upon the Lord.
Then he came to Jericho – v. 4-5 – For the people of Israel, Jericho represented the power of God to give victory in
the day of battle.
This was the place of their first major conquest in the promised land. Jericho was the place of victory and power. For Elijah, Jericho was a place for him to remember all the great victories he had enjoyed in his life. He could reflect back on all those great things God had done for him and through him. Times like the ravens, the barrel of meal, the resurrected child, the victory at Carmel, all flooded the prophet’s mind. He remembered a life of powerful victories!
Then there was the Jordan – v. 6-8 – For Israel, the river Jordan marked the end of their wilderness wanderings. It was a picture of death. That is, it was the place where the pilgrims died. When they crossed Jordan, they were no longer pilgrims, but they were a people who had arrived home. Jordan was a place of death. For Elijah, it was the perfect place to reflect on all the ways he had died to himself
during his years as a man of God. There, he could reflect on the fact that he had lived a selfless life, and that he had lived a life in step with God!
Now, what does all this mean for us? Well, Elijah’s travels show us something of the progression of the normal Christian life. First, we must all have that Gilgal experience. That is, there must be that time of beginnings, when we meet the Lord Jesus in a personal manner. Jesus Himself said it this way, “Ye must be born again” John 3:7. There, we are safe, we are brought into communion with the Lord. It is a time of spiritual preparation
for the battles that surely lie ahead.
Then, as we grow in the Lord and learn to pray, we come to that Bethel time of our walk with Jesus. At Bethel, we learn to walk in dependence upon the Lord. It is a place of maturity. Eventually, if we grow, as we should, we will come to our Jericho experiences. This is where we see the Lord give us victories in the battles of life. Here, we will see the flesh, the world and the devil defeated as we live victoriously for the Lord our God.
Eventually, we will face our own Jordan.
We will come to the end of our journey just as Elijah did. Of course, Jordan isn’t a bad place. It is merely a doorway into the presence and blessing of the Lord. That leads us to our final step: Glory! One day, we will arrive in that place that Elijah went to: Heaven, to live in the very presence of the Lord Jesus!
Do you see what I am trying to say? The Christian life is not meant to be a life of stagnation. It is meant to be a life of progression. The Lord wants to grow us and to fashion us into His likeness, the likeness of Jesus. As He leads us from place to place along the road of life, may we, like Elijah, simply follow in
humble obedience to His will for us! After all, the greatest gift we can give the Lord is ourselves, totally surrendered and dedicated to His will. Rom. 12:1-2.
Verses 2-11 show us that Elijah was Walking With People –
As Elijah travelled his last miles here on the earth, he did not attempt to travel them alone. Verses 2, 4, and 6 might lead one to believe that Elijah wanted Elisha to stay behind. However, these statements were merely tests for Elisha. Verses 6, 8-9, and 11 tell the real story. These verses speak to us of friendship and fellowship. As Elijah completed his tasks upon the earth, he did not withdraw himself from those who could encourage him. He continued to walk in fellowship with other believers! This is seen in the fact that he visited the schools of the prophets and in the fact that he walked with his friend and associate Elisha.
(And God willing we shall take a look at his life next week)
Apparently, Elijah knew that he needed others in his life!
There are too many Lone Ranger Christians in our day! Far too many believers act as though they need no one else in their life. However, the truth of the matter is, we need one another! We need good, godly fellowship and friendships. We need the presence and the ministry of the other saints of God! Even the Lord Jesus longed for that kind of ministry in His own life. Remember Him when He went to the garden to pray? Matt. 26:36-40. He takes three special men with Him and asks them to watch and pray with Him. When He returns from prayer, He finds them asleep and is disappointed that they could not stand with Him during those last lonely hours. Whether we will admit it or not, we need one another! Those who cut people out of their lives and live like a hermit, cut love out of their lives, the opportunity to give it and
to get it! So then Elijah’s last testimony Was A Time Of Watching and Was A Time Of Walking.
Then Finally, verses 2-11 show us that
IT WAS A TIME OF WORKING
I have already touched on this thought, but this man did not spend his last days sitting in a Rocking Chair? He was busy in the work of the Lord until the instant God called him away. In that, he sets an
example that we would all do well to follow! Notice what he is
doing as he waits for the whirlwind.
Verse 8 shows him, Trusting His Redeemer – Even at the end of his life, Elijah is still walking by faith. When he and Elisha come to the river Jordan, they need to get across, so Elijah does what he always did, he expected the impossible from God and received it by faith! It appears that Elijah never reached a place in his life where he said, “Well, I’ve seen God do all that He is able to do!” No, he just kept on walking in faith and dependence until
the very end of the road.
No matter how long you may walk with the Lord, no matter what you have seen Him do, no matter what He has done through your life, there will never come a day when you should stop trusting Him. Just because the years have brought you closer to your crossing, you should not stop walking by faith. Just because the Lord might come at any moment, does not allow any of us to stop trusting Him to lead us and take care of us. Until we stand in His image, in His presence, and in His heaven, we are to walk by faith.
Verses 9-10 show him, Training His Replacement – As they walk together, Elijah spends his last moments with Elisha teaching him about obedience and faithfulness. Elijah doesn’t clap Elisha on the back and walk off into the sunset. He knows this man is to take his place some day. He knows that Elisha needs and deserves the best training that can be given him. The future depends on Elijah doing his duty today. Before he leaves,
he must hand down his ministry to the same keeping of the next generation. We too, as we near the end of our own road, need to remember that there is another generation coming along behind us. What are we teaching them about faith, obedience to God, faithfulness to the Lord’s house and work, love for the Bible, and so on? What kind of legacy are we leaving behind as we travel toward our crossing? Our duty to those who follow is to give them what they need to get the job done for Jesus.
(As I’ve said, we shall see more about Elisha next week!)
Finally, verse 11 shows him, Travelling His Road – In this verse, there is the phrase, “and they still went on.” Even though he was nearing the end of the life, Elijah found no stopping place. He found no place to unhook and drop out of the journey. Even though the end was near, he still went on. In fact, it was as he was going on that the Lord sent that chariot of fire to get him and bring him up to the glory! What an exit this man had!
Can you imagine what it would have been like to see that? Can you imagine what it would have been like to experience that? But, as impressive as it all is, what impresses me more is that while Elijah waited on the whirlwind, he just remained faithful and kept on serving the Lord like he was going to live another hundred years!
What a lesson for us! The Lord might come for you and me today. The rapture could take place, or today could be the day when we leave this world through death. May we never come to the place where we sit down on Him and say, “I’ve done enough! Someone else can take over for me.” No! Let us resolve, like Elijah, that we will “GO ON” until we “GO UP” .