There are many supernatural, un-explainable, unbelievable stories in the ancient writings of the Bible. The miraculous stories are just that...miracle stories that were never meant to be explained. These stories were recorded in scripture to make a statement about humans and the interaction between God and humans. The stories say something about the nature of God also. God is present and involved in the lives of humans and has an overarching plan for all of humankind. Perhaps the story from the book of II Kings that we have heard preached many times says something to us about God, humans, and the nature of God.
Elijah, the crusty old prophet of old, had done many miraculous things as God used him in ministry to and for the people called Israel. Elijah represented the covenant that God had established with Israel through Moses in decades past. The kings of Israel and Judah had imported strange gods into their lands and had encouraged worship to these idols. Elijah railed against idol worship since it was forbidden by the first commandment given by God to the people of Israel. Elijah used violence to combat the high priests of Baal and then retreated to the wilderness to hear the voice of God speak to him and reassure him that God was with him and would protect him. God gave Elijah a coworker in the effort named Elisha and the two of them worked together to do what they felt God had called them to do in their efforts to bring righteousness into the land.
The day came, however, when Elijah's ministry had been completed and God would take him miraculously to the heavens to live with God. Elisha had been warned at least twice by other prophets in the area that Elijah would soon be leaving. Elisha could hardly bear the thought of his friend and companion no longer being with him so he tried to put it out of his mind but he was confronted by the reality again and again by others.
So, Elisha asked his friend if he could receive a special blessing to strengthen him once Elijah was no longer nearby. "...if you see me as I am being taken from you," Elijah promised, "it will be granted you; if not, it will not." (II Kings 2:10b,c). Elisha stuck close to Elijah the reminder of the day until suddenly a miraculous event occurred. A chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared in the sky and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha saw it happen and the mantle that Elijah had been wearing fell to earth. Elisha picked it up and used it to strike the Jordan River so that the water parted for him just as it had done for Elijah in days of old. Elisha became the new Elijah that God would use in ministry with a hot and dusty people who needed to know of God's love for them.
This miraculous story says something about God's providential care for human beings. God cares for all humans on the planet and wants to equip all with the tools to achieve and live a happy and productive life. Unfortunately, not all humans are prepared to receive what God has provided in the planet and in human life so that they can live better lives. The rejection of education and learning, the wastefulness and misuse of the resources of earth, and the failure to live in ways that would bring harmony into individual lives has caused some to not grasp the care that God would have for them.
God cared for Elijah as he performed the ministry tasks that God guided him to do. God cared for Elijah also when it was time for him to leave the earth and go to heavenly places. God had provided a co-worked for Elijah to assist him in his duties and when it was time for Elijah to leave, God equipped Elisha with the same tools that he needed in order to do ministry in the way that his friend had done. Elisha received the spiritual energy necessary to work for God in the land and among the people of Israel.
God equips all who seek God and desire to be of service to God and humankind. God provides all we need to find strength in our bodies and spirits so that we may help others to live in ways that will bring them joy and peace. When we seek God and ask for God's blessings, God will always provide what we need in order to continue the ministry on behalf of others around us.
God's mantle of blessing falls upon all who seek a deeper understanding of God and how God can be involved in our daily lives. As we pray and read God's Word and seek the guidance that God would give us in our lives, we will always receive what we need for our future and for that of others. It does not take a chariot of fire streaking across the sky to open our eyes to God's miraculous universe. If we look around us with eyes of wonder and curiosity, we will see God's Spirit in action wherever we may look. It is enough to believe that God is, and that God is the rewarder of all who diligently seek God.