Ask For A Double Portion.

There’s an interesting section of scripture where Elisha asks for a double portion of the spirit. Many people wonder what that means. Just what was Elisha talking about?

We can see this section of scripture if we turn to 2Ki 2:7-12. Elijah has just told the sons of the prophets that he is going away and Elisha insists on walking with him till the Jordan.....

2Ki 2:7-12 Fifty men of the sons of the prophets also went and stood at some distance from them, as they both were standing by the Jordan. Then Elijah took his cloak and rolled it up and struck the water, and the water was parted to the one side and to the other, till the two of them could go over on dry ground.
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, "Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you." And Elisha said, "Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me."
And he said, "You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you, but if you do not see me, it shall not be so."
And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.
And Elisha saw it and he cried, "My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!" And he saw him no more. Then he took hold of his own cloak and tore it into two pieces.

But what happens next? We can see the result in verses 13 - 15.

2Ki 2:13-15 And he took up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan.
Then he took the mantle of Elijah that had fallen from him and struck the water, saying, "Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?" And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other, and Elisha went over.
Now when the sons of the prophets who were at Jericho saw him opposite them, they said, "The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha." And they came to meet him and bowed to the ground before him.

So when the other sons of the prophets saw Elisha come back with Elijah’s cloak they acknowledged him as Elijah’s successor.

The attitude that Elisha had in wanting to be at the forefront of doing God's work is a good one and we could emulate his zeal. And God rewarded his zeal by showing to all around that he (God) was at work in him.

Now Elisha did great things as God’s prophet but there’s no evidence that he was considered twice the Prophet that Elijah was! He was used mightily by God, yes, and more of the miracles God did through him may have been recorded, but when Christ was transfigured on the mount before a few of his chosen disciples the patriachs transfigured alongside him were Elijah and Moses. So God apparently does not see Elisha as double the prophet that Elijah was.

What then is having double the spirit all about?

If we look at verse 9 again of 2 Kings chapter 2, we see that Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit! Not the Holy spirit or God’s spirit. He asked Elijah for a double portion of his (Elijah's) spirit.

Now some who have a background outside of Christianity or who have a wider knowledge than Christianity alone will ask, 'Was this referring to some form of re-incarnation?” Was Elijah going to die and a double portion of his spirit go to Elisha?

No! If we check later in 2Ch 21:12. we see this is not possible.

2Ch 21:12 And there came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of David thy father, Because thou hast not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat thy father, nor in the ways of Asa king of Judah, (etc, etc.)

We see from this that years after the incident at the Jordan, Elijah is alive and well and writing letters. So Elijah did not die at that time. And, if Elisha didn’t get a double portion of his spirit or God’s spirit (He didn't ask for this anyway), then what is this double portion thing all about.

Let’s look at Deu 21:17

This is talking about a situation where a man has two wives and two sets of children. What it insists on is that even if one wife and her children are not loved, if the firstborn son was a child of the hated wife nevertheless he must have the double portion in the inheritance of his father as the firstborn.

Deu 21:17 But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.

The firstborn son was to get a double portion as a right of inheritance being the successor to the household leader. This was common knowledge and would have been know by all and sundry in Israel. As one of the 'sons of the prophet Elijah', Elisha was asking to be named as the firstborn; as Elijah's successor.

Elijah was God’s prophet. His legacy would be a spiritual one as the leading prophet in Israel. What Elisha asked for was to be Elijah’s spiritual successor; the one who got a double portion of his spiritual legacy. Elijah told him how he would know if God had granted his request. Elisha did see Elijah ascend into heaven and Elijah’s mantle so passed to him. This phrase 'the mantle was passed to him', has even come down to us to mean being someone's successor!

So we see that this is not referring to getting double portions of spirit at all. It is talking about wanting to be used by God in his work. The spirit (Holy or otherwise) is not divided up into pieces and apportioned out! You don't need more spirit to do more. Don't confuse the Spirit with your faith. While faith isn't portioned out either you can be weak in faith and ask for your faith to be strenghtened. YOU can be low in confidence in God but that does not affect the power of God!

Jesus Christ said that if you had the faith of a grain of mustard you could say to a mountain "move over there" and it would move. Who actually does the moving? Is it you or is it God? So do you think that some days you ask God to grant a request and He sit's on His throne lamenting. "You know I'd like to help but I just don't have the energy. If you had a double portion of the spirit we might get somewhere. A tripple portion would be even better! You just can't get good help nowadays. Oh for the old days when Elisha was around to give me some extra spiritual help!"

I don't think so!

The double portion that Elisha asked for is all about seeing a post that may need filling and saying to God, "If I am ready and you can work through me, please give me that job to do". The people of Elijah's day were just as capable of playing with words and phrases in common use as we are! It's talking about having a zeal for the work of God and wanting to be of use in the way God would guide. We don't need extra portions of Spirit. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. It's Christ in us who does the work. He does not need extra portions of the Spirit to accomplish his work sometimes, like when he's a bit run-down! He is omnipotent, always! The Father is omnipotent, always! The Holy Spirit is omnipotent, always! Thank God for that!

Now despite this some will still think that Elisha was asking for a double portion of God's spirit which was in Elijah. OK! Let's look at this.

First you have to believe that Elisha knew so little about the Holy Spirit that he thought it was in the gift of Elijah to give God's Spirit to him. Then you have to believe that Elisha thought that Elijah could divide up the Spirit and give him two portions. How many portions or parts do you think that Elisha expected Elijah's Spirit to be divided into? Say 50 portions so that the other Sons of the Prophets could get one portion while he got two portions? So then, Elisha would have expected to receive 2 out of 50 portions, or 4% of the Spirit that Elijah had!

Now although this is what the scripture would mean if taken literally after substituting Holy Spirit for "your spirit" this is still not what some want to believe. They want to wrest the scripture even further and substitutute "twice as much Spirit as you have" for "a double portion of your spirit"! They twist the scriptures to fit their preconceptions.

The problem of our not meeting the standard of perfect life in Christ is not because we do not have enough of the Holy Spirit, it's because the Holy spirit does not have enough of us!

According to the inspiration of scriptures in Corinthians & Galatians ...

2 Cor 5:20 God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in Him we can become the righteousness of God.

2 Cor 5:17 You are a new creation..

Gal 3:27 You have clothed (cloaked) yourself in Christ.

Gal 2:20-21 The life I now live is not my life, but the life which Christ lives in me.

We can see from this that in the sight of God the Father, we have the righteousness of Christ. We are clothed (cloaked) in Christ. When God sees us He sees us with Christ's righteousness. So we are in the sight of God the Father as righteous and as accepted as Jesus Christ. Not only that but Christ lives in us, and since we have "Jesus Christ in us, the hope of glory", and Jesus has the Holy Spirit without measure, then we also have the Holy Spirit without measure in us. This shows our potential as children of God.

So why do we not exhibit the fullness of Christ at all times? I would suggest three main reasons.

1. We do not allow the Holy Spirit to reign in us. We take back control!

2. We do not know God as we should, so we do not know his will as we should and therefore we do, say and ask things which are not according to God's will.

3. We lack faith (confidence) in God.

For these three reasons we do not achieve the full potential that the Holy Spirit could work in us.

1Co 15:57-58 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

We are to keep growing in faith and getting to know God more and surrendering to the Holy Spirit's direction and as we do this The Holy Spirit WILL bring us to the stature and maturity of Jesus Christ and complete the work He has started in us until the day of our Lord.



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