Musa Gotom: A gift that Elijah could not give

Home » Meditations » Meditations » Musa Gotom: A gift that Elijah could not give

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied. “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.” As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 2 Kings 2:9-11

“Finally, Elijah himself spoke of what was about to happen. Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken up from you? The man of God had no material property to be inherited, but Elisha could have requested a special prayer for himself or the nation of Israel, with the prophet laying hands on him to confer some final blessing.

But what Elisha asked for was a double portion of your spirit. He may have been asking that the would become twice as great as Elijah, or that the spirit that would rest on him would be two times greater in power or quantity than it had been for Elijah.

But it is also possible that he was simply requesting that the spirit at work in Elijah’s life and generation would continue in his own life another generation, so that the two generations would be blessed. This last interpretation may be supported by the fact that some of the works of Elisha seem to repeat that of Elisha.

This was a gift that Elijah could not give, because it was dependent on God. Yet he could say that this request would be granted if Elisha could see him while he was taken up.”

Musa Gotom (Nigeria) in “2 Kings” in Africa Bible Commentary, Tokunboh Adeyemo, General Editor (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006) 444.

I had always thought of Elisha’s double portion as twice as much. I appreciate this scholar’s perspective that he may simply have been a continuation of the ministry of Elijah.

It’s remarkable how the miracles performed in His ministry mirror the ones of Elisha.

Also noteworthy is Elijah’s response to this request. He does not promise something only God can deliver on. But He positions God to allow it, should He choose to do so.

This brings up an important point. We must not promise anything only God can deliver.

All to often people say that certain things are God’s will. It’s dangerous territory to make such claims. Elijah merely positions God to decide the matter.

When Elisha, in fact, sees Elijah go, we have confident that the Spirit will be conferred to him.

Related to our own generosity, we must give gifts that we can give. Gifts that are within our strength and capacity. And we must not promise gifts we cannot give.