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Many times in the Scriptures our Lord ties spiritual blessing to our focus upon the Lord. How often, like the Apostle Peter, have we lost our rest and the miracle of our victory by being distracted from our steady gaze upon Him by the crashing of some surf around us? Oh, that the eyes of our faith were more ardently fixed upon Lord! The wonderful word translated "looking" by the writer to the Hebrews who encourages us to "run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith", is not fully expressed in the English language. The original signifies both a looking off and a looking on. The blessing belongs to those, who by grace, have learned to run the Christian race off-looking unto Jesus. We must look away from all else, and focus upon Him alone as the solitary object of our faith.
When Elisha requested of Elijah a double portion of his spirit, he was not asking for twice as much power to perform twice as many miracles as Elijah performed. The expression, "double portion" had reference to the blessing of the firstborn. Elisha desired a spiritual blessing. He wanted the spiritual privileges that were associated with the firstborn. Elisha wanted the blessing of the Lord that made one rich without sorrow.
Elijah told Elisha that he had "asked a hard thing". It was not a hard thing because God was reluctant to bestow such a blessing upon him. The opposite is true! The Lord longs with an infinite longing to grant spiritual blessings to those desiring to be blessed. Rather, it was a hard thing because it was dependent upon Elisha’s willingness to fix his focus squarely on a spiritual reality, while everything of sight and sense around him was vying for his attention. It is a hard thing, in fact, an impossible thing, to remain focused upon the Lord in this world of innumerable distractions, apart from His miracle of grace. This is true in all the changing experiences of life, but it is especially true in the most spiritual of hours, when a loved one is departing this scene to be forever with the Lord. Elisha’s test to remain focused, in order to receive the spiritual blessing, was in terms of his friend’s removal to his eternal home.
"If you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so", were the words Elisha was told. It was a well-known fact to the sons of the prophets, that Elijah would soon complete his earthly pilgrimage. In hushed tones they spoke to Elisha about the coming event that God had revealed to them. Fifty students of Elijah, who loved him dearly, watched from a distance for his inevitable end. There is a good possibility that there were fifty-one human eyewitnesses of Elijah’s departure. Only Elisha, however, beheld him with the eye of faith when he was taken away. Elisha alone received the spiritual blessing of the firstborn.
What did the fifty sons of the prophets’ see? They saw only the whirlwind that God sent to catch him away. Undoubtedly, the terrible sound of power and destruction accompanied the God-sent twister. Whose head would not be turned aside to gaze upon the black funnel forming in the sky? Who would not marvel as the mighty whirlwind approached, rending rocks and breaking elements to pieces? They saw the storm! They saw the destruction! They saw the twister that ravages homes leaving families and furniture upside down. They did not see what Elisha saw. They missed the spiritual reality. They saw a terrible storm sweep in and remove the man of God. They only saw the shell of what really took place!
What did Elisha see? He was determined to stay focused on the reality. He fixed his gaze on the person of Elijah, as he had been instructed.. Although there was every human reason to look aside, Elisha looked steadfastly in the direction of the blessing. While others saw only the storm, Elisha saw inside the storm. While the fifty sons of the prophets looked in horror at the devastating whirlwind, Elisha looked beyond carnal sense and saw what was actually happening. Inside the storm he beheld a heavenly splendor! The Lord had sent a royal chariot of flaming glory, driven by horses of fire to escort His child into His everlasting presence. Elisha did not see tragedy! He saw life rather than death! He beheld the reality! He witnessed his friend carried up in victory to glory. The blessing was his!
The fifty sons of the prophets searched in vain for the body of their friend which, to their dim vision, the tornado swept away. Elisha’s focus was rewarded! He was not left to grieve as those who have no hope! He was enabled by God to see the reality! Even in this, the most terrible of all storms, he did not lose his peace. It was more than a mantle and memory that fell to him from the ascending chariot. Elisha became the heir of the blessing that belongs to the firstborn.
God has tied the spiritual blessing to our focus upon the Lord. There is never an occasion to which the Christian must yield his rest. We must trust the Lord for the grace to keep us ever looking unto Him! There will be many storms that blow into our lives by the will of God. By His grace, we will be enabled to fix our focus upon Him! Then we will see the reality in the midst of the storm. The storm is incidental! It is what is taking place in reality in the midst of the storm that is important. Even when the final whirlwind blows into our lives to take us, or the dearest from us, if our eyes are upon Him, we will have heaven’s insight as to what is really taking place inside the storm! Here is our rest! Here is our victory! Focused on Him, death is not death at all; it is just departing to be with Him!
We cannot avoid the whirlwind that eventually will descend upon us all, but it need not set us spinning in terror and unbelief. God allows us to see what is happening inside the storm, and while others are occupied with the debris and loss, we are swallowed up in an ecstasy of praise! Only those who see understand!
Brother Ed Miller
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