The king of Syria wanted to find and capture God’s prophet Elisha. He heard that Elisha was in Dothan, a walled city on top of a hill. During the night, the king sent his army to Dothan, along with horses and war chariots. By sunrise, they had surrounded the city.
When Elisha’s servant got up and went outside, he saw the enemy army and became afraid. He cried: “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” Elisha said: “Do not be afraid, for there are more who are with us than those who are with them.” Then the prophet prayed: “O Jehovah, open his eyes, please, that he may see.” The story continues: “Immediately, Jehovah opened the attendant’s eyes, so that he saw; and, look! the mountainous region was full of horses and war chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:15-17) What can we learn from this?
Even though Elisha was surrounded by the Syrian army, he was calm. He trusted in Jehovah and saw that Jehovah was protecting him. We do not expect miracles today, but it is clear to us that Jehovah is protecting his people as a group. We could say that we too can see horses and chariots of fire protecting us. If we have faith that Jehovah is protecting his people and if we always trust in him, we will feel safe and have his blessing. (Psalm 4:8) Let us discuss how we can benefit from other events in Elisha’s life.
ELISHA BEGINS SERVING ELIJAH
One day, when Elisha was plowing a field, the prophet Elijah came to him and put his own official garment on him. By doing this, Elijah was inviting Elisha to be his attendant, that is, his servant. Elisha invited his friends for a big meal, said good-bye to his father and mother, and left home to follow Elijah. (1 Kings 19:16, 19, 21) Because Elisha was willing to do whatever God wanted him to do, Jehovah was able to use him in many ways and later appointed him as prophet in place of Elijah.
Elisha served Elijah for perhaps six years. During that time, the Bible says that Elisha was the one “who poured out water upon the hands of Elijah.” (2 Kings 3:11) What does that mean? Back then, people usually ate with their hands. After a meal, a servant poured water on his master’s hands to clean them. So at least some of Elisha’s jobs may have seemed small or unimportant. But he felt that it was an honor to be Elijah’s servant.
In a similar way, many Christians today are willing to do different types of work in the full-time service. Why? Because they have faith in Jehovah and want to give him their best. Some leave home to work at Bethel or on construction projects, for example. They may do jobs that many view as small and unimportant. But none of us should think that way. Jehovah values very much all the work his servants do.
ELISHA DID NOT GIVE UP HIS ASSIGNMENT
Before God took Elijah “in a windstorm up to the heavens,” he sent the prophet on a journey. Elijah told Elisha that he did not have to go with him, but Elisha replied: “I will not leave you.” During the journey, Elijah told him two more times to stay behind, but Elisha refused. (2 Kings 2:1-6) Elisha loyally stayed with Elijah, just as Ruth had stayed with Naomi. (Ruth 1:8, 16, 17) Elisha felt that it was an honor to serve Elijah because that was the work that God had given Elisha to do.
Elisha set a fine example for us. We will very much value any work that we are given to do in God’s organization if we always remember that we are serving Jehovah. There is no greater honor than that.
“ASK WHAT I SHOULD DO FOR YOU”
As the two men were traveling, Elijah said to Elisha: “Ask what I should do for you before I am taken from you.” Elisha answered: “Please, that two parts in your spirit may come to me.” As Solomon had done years earlier, Elisha asked for something that would help him serve Jehovah better. (1 Kings 3:5, 9; 2 Kings 2:9) What was Elisha asking for? In Israel, two parts of an inheritance would go to a man’s firstborn son, his main heir. (Deuteronomy 21:15-17) So Elisha was asking to be Elijah’s heir, or to take Elijah’s place as prophet. Also, he asked to have Elijah’s spirit, or attitude, because he wanted to have the same courage and zeal for true worship that Elijah had.
How did Elijah respond to his servant’s request? The prophet said: “You have asked a difficult thing. If you see me when taken from you, it will happen to you that way; but if you do not, it will not happen.” (2 Kings 2:10) Elijah’s answer meant two things. First, only God could decide whether Elisha would receive what he had asked for. Second, if Elisha wanted to receive it, he had to stay with Elijah, no matter what might happen.
WHAT ELISHA SAW
Did God give Elisha what he had asked for? The Bible says: “It came about that as they were walking along, speaking as they walked, why, look! a fiery war chariot and fiery horses, and they proceeded to make a separation between them both; and Elijah went ascending in the windstorm to the heavens. All the while Elisha was seeing it.” * (See footnote.) That was Jehovah’s answer to Elisha’s request. Elisha saw Elijah taken from him, received two parts of Elijah’s spirit, and became God’s prophet in his place.
Elisha picked up the official garment that had fallen off Elijah and put it on. When people saw Elisha wearing that garment, they knew that he was now God’s prophet. Later, he also showed that he was God’s prophet by dividing the waters of the Jordan River.
Elisha must have never forgotten what he saw when Elijah was taken up in the windstorm. Anyone would be amazed at seeing a war chariot and horses of fire! These things proved to Elisha that Jehovah had given him what he had asked for. When God answers our prayers, we do not have a vision of horses and a war chariot of fire. But we still have clear proof that God uses his great power to help us and to make sure that his will is done. And when we see that Jehovah is blessing the earthly part of his organization, it is as if we see his celestial chariot moving forward.
Elisha had many experiences that convinced him of Jehovah’s great power. In fact, God’s holy spirit made it possible for the prophet to perform 16 miracles. That was twice as many as Elijah performed. * (See footnote.) The second time that Elisha saw horses and war chariots of fire was at Dothan, when he was surrounded by the Syrian army.
ELISHA TRUSTED IN JEHOVAH
Even though he was surrounded by enemies at Dothan, Elisha stayed calm. Why? Because he had strong faith in Jehovah. We too need strong faith. Let us pray for God’s holy spirit so that we can show faith and other qualities that are part of the spirit’s fruitage.
What happened at Dothan must have given Elisha even more reason to trust in Jehovah and in his armies of angels. God sent his angels to surround the city and to protect Elisha from the enemy. Then God saved Elisha and his servant by blinding the enemy. (2 Kings 6:17-23) At that time of danger, as well as in other situations, Elisha showed faith and complete trust in Jehovah.
Like Elisha, let us trust in Jehovah God. (Proverbs 3:5, 6) If we do that, “God himself will show us favor and bless us.” (Psalm 67:1) It is true that we are not surrounded by literal chariots and horses of fire, but Jehovah’s people do have his protection today. And in the future, Jehovah will protect his people through the “great tribulation.” (Matthew 24:21; Revelation 7:9, 14) Until then, let us always remember that “God is a refuge for us.”