Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 16 (1901)


Ms 114, 1901

Lessons from the Experience of Elisha


November 13, 1901

Portions of this manuscript are published in UL 331.

God’s servants are to work for the higher classes, but this does not mean that they are to bind themselves up with the honored of the earth, depending on them for strength, influence, and success. The Lord will often incline the hearts of those in positions of responsibility to grant favors to His commandment-keeping people. But when God’s servants leave Him to solicit recognition from men of the world, they exchange power for weakness. 16LtMs, Ms 114, 1901, par. 1

We have a most solemn work before us, the importance of which we can only understand by the light which is shining from God’s Word on the past and the present. Who is holding fast the faith once delivered to the saints? Who, amid the cries of “Lo here” and “Lo there,” is showing unshaken confidence in the Word of God? The faith of the present connects us with the past and points us to the future. 16LtMs, Ms 114, 1901, par. 2

We may learn valuable lessons from the experience of the prophet Elisha. Elisha was chosen by the Lord as Elijah’s helper, and through test and trial he proved himself true to his trust. He was willing to be and do anything the Lord directed. He did not seek to shun the humblest service, but was as faithful in the performance of smaller duties as of larger responsibilities. He was always willing to serve in any position to which the Lord pointed him, however disagreeable it might be to his natural inclinations. And at every step he learned lessons of humility and service. 16LtMs, Ms 114, 1901, par. 3

“It came to pass, when the Lord would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. And Elijah said to Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel. And Elisha said to him, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel.” [2 Kings 2:1, 2.] At Bethel and at [Jericho] Elijah said to him again, “Tarry here, I pray thee,” and again Elisha replied, “As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee.” [Verses 4, 6.] He would not be parted from his master. He must learn all he possibly could from Elijah before he was taken away from him. 16LtMs, Ms 114, 1901, par. 4

“And 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.” [Verse 9.] He did not ask for worldly honor, for a high place among the great men of the earth. That for which he craved was a double portion of the spirit given to the one God was about to honor with translation. He knew that nothing but a double portion of the spirit that had rested on Elijah could fit him to fill the place Elijah had filled, because Elijah had the experience and wisdom of age which cannot by any method be imparted to the young. 16LtMs, Ms 114, 1901, par. 5

Ministers of the gospel, had this question been asked you, what would you have answered? What is the greatest desire of your heart as you engage in the service of God? 16LtMs, Ms 114, 1901, par. 6

In response to Elisha’s request, Elijah answered, “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. And 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. And 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. He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; 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.” [Verses 10-14.] 16LtMs, Ms 114, 1901, par. 7

When the Lord in His providence sees fit to remove from His work those to whom He has given wisdom, He helps and strengthens their successors, if they will look to Him for aid and will walk in His ways. They may be even wiser than their predecessors; for they may profit by their experience and learn wisdom from their mistakes. 16LtMs, Ms 114, 1901, par. 8

The Lord has a special care for His church. Those who will seek wisdom from Him will be lights in the world, shining brighter and brighter unto the perfect day. Young and inexperienced workers should not move with self-confidence, supposing themselves qualified to lead. A young worker needs a double portion of the Lord’s Spirit. 16LtMs, Ms 114, 1901, par. 9

Those who are self-sufficient, who place confidence in self, will enter into by- and forbidden paths. Many young workers have imperilled the cause of God by taking responsibilities without acknowledging the Lord or seeking to be instructed by Him. 16LtMs, Ms 114, 1901, par. 10