Elijah in the Whirlwind
Open Your Bible
2 Kings 1:1-18, 2 Kings 2:1-25, Romans 11:1-6
BY Erin Davis
Way back in the Garden of Eden, our foreparents enjoyed a fleeting moment of sin-free existence. This meant, among other things, that separation was a foriegn concept to them. Adam and Eve were united with creation, united with each other, and united with their Creator. No sin was present to drive a wedge between their hearts and God’s. Unity was the natural order of things. In contrast, our lives are lived in the fallen world. Painful separations are nearly constant as a result. Sin separates hearts. Sin divides homes. Sin keeps us from Eden, pulling us away from perfect unity with our holy God.
Here, in 2 Kings 2, Elisha was dealing with separation anxiety. His instincts told him he would soon be disconnected from his predecessor, Elijah. Everyone he met felt the need to confirm these suspicions but Elisha couldn’t seem to bear the thought. “Keep quiet,” he whispered when Elijah’s departure was mentioned (2 Kings 2:3)—as if failure to discuss it could have prevented him from losing someone dear. Every time Elijah tried to pull away, Elisha held on a little tighter. He refused to separate from his mentor one second before he had to.
Elisha must have known Elijah was heaven-bound. After seeing the ways God had used the life of his friend, he surely did not grieve without hope in God’s power and care. Any doubts that Elijah was heading somewhere better surely evaporated when he was taken up on chariots of fire within a supernatural whirlwind (vv.11–12). And yet, even when we know the promises of God to be true, even when we trust He has something more for us, separation stings. We simply weren’t built for it.
When the moment of separation finally came, Elisha cried out, “My father, my father!” (v.12), tore his clothes, and sat down in the dirt, giving outward expression to His deep grief over the loss of Elijah. His words remind me of another moment in Scripture—the moment on the cross when the Son cried out in anguish to the Father:
“About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Elí, Elí, lemá sabachtháni?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?’” (Matthew 27:46).
Jesus uttered these words right before the temple curtain was torn from top to bottom (Mark 15:38), an outward expressions of God’s power and His grace toward us. Jesus knew heaven was near and trusted the power and care of His Father, and yet, what He endured was tremendously painful. For once and for all time, our sinless Savior willingly endured the punishment for sins we deserved so that we might be united with Him again for all eternity.
Yes, this broken world is painful. We’re in good company if we respond with worried whispers and white knuckles when death comes for someone we love. But because of Jesus, separation is only temporary. Through the cross He built a bridge, a way back to Eden’s promise that someday we will be fully united with Christ, never to be separated again.