13 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; He realized he needed the mantle, that it belonged to him now. He pondered what to do next and decided to see if he could do what Elisha could do.
14 And 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. This power was promised to him but he did not know he had it until he could use it. When the water parted he had the proof. He went back over to begin the work.
15 And 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. They watched to see how it would go. They were pleased the spirit was with Elisha as it was with Elijah for it was God’s power. They had respect for him because God approved his role as prophet in the room of Elijah. These were large shoes to fill.
16 And they said unto him, Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master: lest peradventure the spirit of the LORD hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send. The question of what happened to him was an open one. They thought by searching they might resolve it. Elisha said no, there was no good reason to search for he was gone and would not be found.
17 And when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not. He relented in the end and they searched only to prove he was right. There was nothing but the verbal report. That they sought for three days is of interest.
18 And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho,) he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not? He came to a place and began his work from there. He argued with them for not listening to him first but then let it rest.
It was important that they see him go up into heaven. They had to be eye witnesses. They were aware of his going and this is why they asked was it now he would restore again the kingdom to Israel. There was to be a delay, which we know to be about two thousand years.
Some, who had the power of Prophecy, informed them he would be taken from them this day. Elisha said he knew and told them not to say anything. In someway they were tested to see if their resolve was firm. Peter was tested as we discover in John 21. But all were determined to stay to the end.
It is important to notice that three times Elijah said he would go away and three times Elisha said, I will not leave thee. The connection is with Peter, who before the cock crew twice had denied his Lord three times. The Lord knew he would. Was it a divine revelation that gave him this insight, or knowledge of this parable?
Three times they are told it was to be that day and all were prepared. All of them saw him depart. They gazed steadfastly into heaven and he was taken as if in a whirlwind.
The sons of the prophets were the first century believers and we are told there were up to five hundred who saw him at one time. Elisha was to witness what was to happen to Elijah, but the others were to witness what happened then to Elisha. There were many miracles done by the Lord, but what was to happen now?
Elisha asks for a double portion of Elisha’s spirit. He knew it would be difficult for him to work in Elijah’s room except he have something to testify to his authority. The double portion was the power to use, and the power to pass on, the gift of the Holy Spirit. It was reserved for those who saw him ascend into heaven. If they were not among those who saw, they would not get the double portion. Only the disciples had the power to hand on the gifts of the spirit.
The Lord Jesus Christ was taken up from them into heaven, and the disciples were left alone. They were bewildered. What were they to do now? This was a signal that all responsibility fell on them, and they were afraid. But the Lord sent the Comforter. The disciples were distressed but took up the mantle of the Lord and proceeded with the work. All others watched to see what would occur.
The question was “where is the God of Elijah?” The answer was “He is with Elisha.” They saw the miracles and believed. The work would go on into another phase.
Pilate was reluctant to support the Jewish cause at the first, but in the end he allowed them to put a watch on the cave. They searched for three days and found nothing. The fifty represent more than enough to conduct the search and complete it. The parable presents the men searching for three days, where the opposite was true. They had the body of the Lord knowing exactly where he was for three days, and then they lost it.
This brings us to another story.
19 And the men of the city said unto Elisha, Behold, I pray thee, the situation of this city [is] pleasant, as my lord seeth: but the water [is] naught, and the ground barren. If the water is naught then no one is going to live there. If the ground is barren then it will be hard to grow your food or your crop. It was impossible to live there. But it was vital they live there, so the problem must be solved.