NETWORKING REDEFINED IN PRESENT TRUTH - The Elijah/Elisha Principle
By Richard Wright
I now fully believe that the day of the "apostolic network" as we have known it for the past 15 years or so is over. God used it for a season and now is indicating that He desires to do a "new thing" by taking father/son relationships to a new depth. I am going to call this "The Elijah/Elisha Principle". We will look at this biblical relationship for our example knowing that as we examine it, this will only be the beginning of seeing it in a new light. Revelation will continue to come and we will grow in God's will as we receive it. Please read 1 Kings 19 thru 2 Kings 2.
After Elisha accepted his calling, he immediately left his oxen, ran after Elijah and said that he would like to stay behind just a little while in order to make a feast. He wanted to say goodbye to his friends and his parents. Notice that it was Elisha that ran after Elijah and not the other way around. It was Elisha that pursued the relationship because he knew that it was of God. Elijah did not have to continually coax Elisha to keep up the relationship. In today's context, it will be the true sons that will be the Elishas to their fathers the Elijahs.
After Elisha's statement about staying behind awhile, Elijah's answer to him was, "Go back again, for what have I done to you?" This was as much as saying to Elisha that he should settle the matter with God, not with Elijah. God is the one who chose Elisha, so whatever Elisha did about it was to be settled with God and not with his servant.
Elisha made a complete break with his past. He made a complete surrender to God and broke off all ties with the old life. He took the yoke of oxen he had been plowing with and slew them for the purposes of an offering before God and a feast for his friends. He made firewood out of the plow and the yokes. His friends and neighbors saw him burning all his bridges behind him, cutting off all connections with his former life and ownership of property.
After Elisha had provided a feast for the people and kissed his parents goodbye, he arose and went after Elijah. The older prophet became his spiritual father and Elisha took the humble place of being his servant. He served God in the serving of a man of God. We see this principle so many times in scripture, both in the Old and New Testaments. One example is in Joshua 1:1-3:
"Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' servant, saying, Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses."
"So the Lord said to Moses, Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; and have him stand before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation; and commission him in their sight. And you shall put some of your authority on him, in order that all the congregation of the sons of Israel may obey him."
A scripture that I am reminded of at this point is Luke 16:12, which says, "And if you have not been faithful in the use of that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own?"
True sonship is first being a true servant. Then, and only then, will you find yourself one day in the same place as your spiritual parents. Our problem in networking has been that the sons have expected the fathers to serve them. We have had this backwards as with many other things in the Church. I'm sure that we can think of many other examples, but I would now like to get back to finish this great story of Elijah and Elisha. Let's now examine the latter part of this father/son relationship as we look at 2 Kings 2:1-2.
"And it came about when the Lord was about to take up Elijah by a whirlwind to heaven, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. And Elijah said to Elisha, Stay here please, for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel. But Elisha said, As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you. So they went down to Bethel."
This was a test for Elisha (who may have thought by now that he would not need any more testings) and he passed it without even hesitating. This expression "as the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you" could be restated this way: "As sure as God lives in you and in me I will not leave you." This is an absolute and final statement. This is a choice in which there is no backing down.
"...so they went down to Bethel." "Bethel" means "house of God" or literally means "household of God". This again speaks loudly of the meaning of this relationship and we come into greater understanding of the meaning of "spiritual family" in our time.
Now, if we look at another passage, we will see even more the significance of the message to us through this great example of a father/son relationship.
2 Kings 2:4 says, "And Elijah said to him, Elisha, please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Jericho. But he said, As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you. So they came to Jericho."
Again we see Elisha passing another test and they went to Jericho. "Jericho" represents the place of spiritual warfare, entering into activity against forces of evil in the heavenlies.
2 Kings 2:6 then says, "Then Elijah said to him, Please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan. And he said, As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you. So the two of them went on."
For a third time, Elisha passes the test and they go on to Jordan. Jordan speaks of death. It represents death to the self-life. Jordan stands as the place of Israel's separation from the self-life in the desert to the life of warfare for the Lord in the land. This resounds loudly in the statement made by Jesus in Mark 8:34-35, which says, "And He summoned the multitude with His disciples, and said to them, If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's shall save it."
Evidently Elisha was willing to follow Elijah anywhere at anytime the Lord directed him. Let's now look at the results of all this.
2 Kings 2:7-14 says, "Now fifty men of the sons of the prophets went and stood opposite them at a distance, while the two of them stood by the Jordan. And Elijah took his mantle and folded it together and struck the waters, and they were divided here and there, so that the two of them crossed over on dry ground. Now it came about when they had crossed over, that Elijah said to Elisha, Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you. And Elisha said, Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me. And he said, You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so. Then it came about as they were going along and talking, that behold, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven. And Elisha saw it and cried out, My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen! And he saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces. He also took up the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and returned and stood by the bank of the Jordan. And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and struck the waters and said, Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah? And when he also had struck the waters, they were divided here and there; and Elisha crossed over."
Notice that when Elijah departed, Elisha did not shout "my pastor, my pastor", or "my prophet, my prophet", but cried out, "my father, my father".
What did Elisha ask for when the offer came from this great prophet of God who was his mentor? He did not ask for fame or fortune, but for a double portion of the spirit of Elijah. He was not asking for twice as much faith and spiritual force as that which was characterized in his spiritual father. He was asking that he might be considered as Elijah's eldest son, the heir to his spirit, the successor to his work. It was all relational.
Elijah said, "if you see me when I am taken...". This means, if you are still with me when I go. In the past we have experienced spiritual "sons" who wanted to be sons for a season, and then desire a peer relationship with their fathers because they now see themselves as mature fathers. I will tell you a truth, a true father should desire his sons to carry greater anointings than they, but the sons must realize that even if this happens, they will always be the "son" to their spiritual father. Dad will always be dad no matter how great the son becomes. We really miss God when we stop sitting at the feet of our elders because we think we are now more anointed and mature than them. I personally know great apostolic fathers in the faith who have been "put out to pasture" and are scratching for provision because their sons in whom they invested much of their life and resources have left them and stopped honoring them with their support.
Deuteronomy 21:17 says: "But he shall acknowledge the first-born, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; to him belongs the right of the first-born."
This is what Elisha sought, and this is what he certainly obtained. What a powerful example of a father/son relationship we see through this story of the passing of a mantle.
Now is the time for all of us to check our motives and begin building everlasting covenant relationships with those whom God has placed us. All relationships that are entered into with the thought of divorce if things don't go our way will fail to bring fulfillment of the will of God into our lives and ministries. Many ministries begin to move in an anointing and believe that they have received a mantle. These are two different things. An anointing is just for a specific time or place or situation, but a mantle is that which one carries at all times, through all situations and circumstances. You must wait for a mantle to fall and then have the integrity of character that you have earned by keeping your relationship in Godly order so you may properly use it with a double anointing.
God is now "smiting the land with a curse" (Malachi 4) because the fathers and sons have not allowed the Lord to deal with their hearts to walk in close covenant relationship. Most "networks" are still more organizational rather than relational. Will you be counted among the true sons and daughters who walk closely with their spiritual fathers through the oncoming kingdom battles, or are you just doing your own thing while being accountable to no man?