9 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.
10 “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.”
11 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. 12 Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two.
Very few people in the Bible did not see death – Elijah and Enoch are the only two. Enoch walked with God, as is written in Genesis chapter 5. This means Enoch was very close with God; he led a life that was pleasing to God. It states that, “Then he was not, for God took him away.”
Elijah also did not see death, for God took him away. Elijah knew God was taking him, as did the prophets Elijah worked with. Elisha also knew, so he declared several times that he would not leave Elijah. Perhaps Elijah was touched by his companion’s devotion, since he asked, “What can I do for you before I am taken from you?” Elisha asked for a big gift, but truly, it was a gift only God could give, in receiving the Holy Spirit.
Remember the old song, “Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home”? I wonder if that song refers to this scriptural passage. We will probably not bypass death as they did, but it will be a wondrous day when we get to meet God face to face, when we will be home with God forever.
Gracious God, I pray for all those who mourn, who have lost loved ones in death. Maybe it’s a close friend, like Elijah and Elisha. Elisha tore his robe as a sign of his mourning, even though he saw Elijah being taken up to heaven. Hold safe all those who are gone from our sight, until we meet again. In Christ’s grace, Amen.