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Friday, June 6 2014

2 Kings 2: Where Did That Chariot Of Fire Take Elijah?

"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"

The prophet Elijah had thought that his work was done after he defeated hundreds of Jezebel's Satanic prophets of Baal (see 1 Kings 18: Elijah's Defeat Of The Prophets Of Baal and 1 Kings 19: Elijah's Journey To Mount Sinai). The LORD (Who was and is Jesus Christ - see Genesis 1: In The Beginning Was The Word and The Kingdom Of The LORD God) however sent him back from Mount Sinai with a number of other tasks (see 2 Kings 1: Canaan Baalism) that included the choosing of the one who would assist, and then succeed Elijah - Elisha. Then, the day came when Elijah could retire.

"2:1 And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. 2:2 And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Bethel.

And Elisha said unto him, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Bethel.

2:3 And the sons of the prophets that were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day?

And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace." (2 Kings 2:1-3 KJV)

The Jordan River
The last recorded miracle of Elijah was his parting of the Jordan River, adjacent to Jericho, very near the place where the Israelites had crossed the divided-waters Jordan in the time of Joshua (see Joshua 2: Rahab Of Jericho, Joshua 3: The Crossing Of The Jordan and Joshua 4: Beachhead In The Promised Land).

Elijah was not headed out of Israel into foreign lands - he was returning to his home town in the Israelite territories east of the Jordan River that had existed since the time of Moses, where Moses himself was buried (see Numbers 32: The Israel Of East Jordan and Deuteronomy 34: The Passage Of Moses). Elijah didn't have to walk all the way home - a "chariot of fire" was provided to him to complete the journey. As the Scriptures record, it wasn't the last that anyone heard from Elijah however - people still received letters from him (see the Fact Finder question below).

"2:4 And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the LORD hath sent me to Jericho.

And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho. 2:5 And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the LORD will take away thy master from thy head to day?

And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.

2:6 And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the LORD hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on.

2:7 And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan. 2:8 And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground.

2:9 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.

2:10 And he said, 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.

2:11 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.

2:12 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." (2 Kings 2:4-12 KJV)

Those who witnessed Elijah's flight wanted to search for him in the direction that he flew away because they knew that he was on Earth ("upon some mountain, or into some valley"), but he was not found because the purpose of the "chariot of fire" was to enable that very result (again, see the Fact Finder question below).

Chariot of Fire

"2:13 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; 2:14 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.

2:15 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. 2:16 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.

2:17 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. 2:18 And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho,) he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not?" (2 Kings 2:13-18 KJV)

Elisha then began his own miraculous ministry as the Holy Spirit enabled him, just as it had enabled Elijah.

"2:19 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.

2:20 And he said, Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein. And they brought it to him.

2:21 And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the LORD, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land. 2:22 So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake." (2 Kings 2:19-22 KJV)

Just as Elijah had done, Elisha was enabled by the LORD to defend himself with whatever means necessary. The "little children" as the King James Version renders it, actually were recorded in the original Hebrew as youths - a huge gang of them who swarmed and attacked the prophet while blaspheming the LORD (see Elisha's Miracles).

"2:23 And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. 2:24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. 2:25 And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria." (2 Kings 2:19-25 KJV)

Fact Finder: Elijah ascended into heaven on a "chariot of fire" during the reign of Jehoshaphat (i.e. Jehoshaphat was still king after Elisha had succeeded Elijah - 2 Kings 3:11). How then could King Jehoram, who succeeded Jehoshaphat as king, have received a letter from Elijah after Elijah was taken away into "heaven"? Where did Elijah really go?
See Where Did Elijah Go?


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This Day In History, June 6

1513: Swiss papal forces defeated the French at the Battle of Novara in Italy during the War of the Holy League.

D Day 1523: Gustav Vasa was elected King of Sweden, ending the Kalmar Union.

1586: English forces under Francis Drake raided Spanish forces at St. Augustine (Florida was then a possession of Spain).

1620: At beginning of The Thirty Years War, 27 of the most eminent men of the protestant Czech lands were executed and dismembered for "heresy" by Catholics under Ferdinand.

1654: Queen Christina abdicated the Swedish throne to become a member of the Church of Rome.

1644: Manchu forces of the Qing Dynasty, led by the Shunzhi Emperor, captured Beijing during the collapse of the Ming Dynasty. The Manchus thereafter ruled China until 1912, when the Republic of China is established.

1660: The Peace of Copenhagen was signed, ending the war between Sweden and Denmark.

1683: The first public museum, The Ashmolean, was opened at Oxford, England.

1752: A fire destroyed about one-third of Moscow.

1762: During the Battle of Havana, British forces began a siege of Havana, Cuba.

1808: Joseph Bonaparte, the brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, was crowned King of Spain.

1813: The Battle of Stoney Creek during the War of 1812 (1812-1814). A British and Canadian force of 700 under John Vincent repelled an invading U.S. force three times its size.

1882: A cyclone in the Arabian Sea produced huge waves into Bombay harbour, killing 100,000 people.

1942: The U.S. carrier Yorktown was sunk by a Japanese submarine after being hit by bombs in the Battle of Midway.

1944: Operation Overlord: 24,000 U.S., British and Canadian paratroopers, and the amphibious landing of 61,000 British ("Gold" and "Sword" beaches), 22,000 Canadian ("Juno" beach) and 73,000 U.S. ("Omaha" and "Utah" beaches) troops on the coast of Normandy, France, during the first 24 hours. It was the largest sea-borne invasion in history and has become popularly known as "D-Day" (Date Day).

1967: Day 2 of the "6 Day War". The Israeli air force by then had inflicted heavy losses on the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian air forces: 416 aircraft (393 while still on the ground) were destroyed by Israel, with a loss of only 26 Israeli aircraft, all to anti-aircraft fire (see also A History Of Jerusalem: War And Peace).

1968: Senator Robert Kennedy died at age 42, the day after being shot by a Palestinian-immigrant assassin in Los Angeles.

1971: The Soviet Union launched Soyuz 11. The flight ended in disaster when the capsule depressurized during preparations for re-entry, killing the three-man crew (Vladislav Volkov, Georgi Dobrovolski, and Viktor Patsayev). To date, it was the only accident that resulted in human deaths in space, rather than at high atmosphere as happened with the two U.S. space shuttle accidents.

1971: During the Vietnam War, the Battle of Long Khanh between Australian and North Vietnamese forces began.

1980: For the second time in a week, U.S. nuclear forces went on red alert following a computer error warning of a Soviet attack.

1982: Israel began the "Operation Peace For Galilee" in which 80,000 Israeli troops and extensive air power invaded Lebanon in response to shelling of northern Israel by Palestinian forces in Lebanon. The Israelis inflicted heavy losses on the enemy ground forces and a devastating blow to the Syrian air force - between June 9 and 10 alone, 96 Syrian MiG-25 fighters that entered Lebanese air space were shot down, without a single Israeli plane lost. The Israelis captured vast quantities of PLO equipment - 1,320 armored combat vehicles, 144 artillery pieces and rocket launchers, 196 anti-aircraft guns, 1,342 anti-tank weapons, 33,000 small arms, and several thousand tons of ammunition. After initial swift successes however, the Israelis met fierce resistance; by the end of the conflict, casualties were estimated at 6,000 PLO fighters and noncombatants, and 800 Israeli dead and wounded, including Major General Yekutiel Adam, the highest-ranking Israeli officer ever to fall in battle.

1985: Police in Brazil exhumed a body they believed was that of Josef Mengele, the notorious Nazi "angel of death". Mengele was blamed for the deaths of 400,000 people and for sadistic "medical experiments" conducted at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland. The body was exhumed after West German officials found a letter Mengele sent from Brazil. A team of West German, Brazilian, and U.S. scientists concluded that the body was Mengele. Police believe that he drowned while swimming on February 7 1979 and was buried under a false name.

2002: An estimated 10-meter diameter asteroid entered the atmosphere and exploded over the Mediterranean Sea between Greece and Libya. The force of the explosion was estimated to have been about the same as the atomic bomb that the U.S. used to incinerate Nagasaki, Japan in 1945.


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