Editorial: Elijah, or the God of Elijah?

The drama is impossible to convey in words. There he stood; the fiery chariots and horses had severed him from his beloved mentor. The whirlwind had done its job and Elijah was gone heavenward. There he stood, mantle in hand, with a challenge gripping his heart. The eyes of the sons of the prophets were trained upon him. Before him stretched the Jordan. Elijah had parted it with his mantle. But Elijah was gone. The man who had stood for God alone against the prophets of Baal and the prophets of the grove was gone. The man who knew the presence and power of God was no longer there.

As he took up the mantle and faced the Jordan, what did he need? Did he need the “good old days” when Elijah was moving in power? Did he need the thunderous pronouncements of the prophet?

Facing the present need and the future burdens, Elisha cried, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” (2 Ki 2:14). With keen and unfailing spiritual insight he realized that what he needed was God, not merely the man of God.

It is wonderful to read about revivals such as that described in our issue. The soul almost imperceptibly wishes it were back in those halcyon days of spiritual blessing. Any with generational roots in assembly fellowship have listened as older family members have detailed something of those days when meetings were crowded, gospel series led to conversions in the double digits, and evangelists were in abundance. God was working, and blessing seemed to attend every effort.

Reports from foreign lands also recount days of rich blessing with conversions, baptisms, and additions to testimony; new companies being formed and work advancing. Thank God!

But that is there and not here. All conspire to make us wish we were living back then or over there. But we are here and this is the day and the society in which the Lord has called us to carry the torch of testimony for Him.

When Elijah was taken by the whirlwind, he left a mantle for a young man to pick up, a man prepared to carry on the work, a ministry for him to do, and – most importantly – a monument to what God could do. It was this latter truth which came with reassuring power to the heart of young Elisha. He longed for the God of Elijah to display Himself and be his source of power.

Our responsibility is to serve “our generation” (Acts 13:36). While we honor and revere the memory of godly men of the past and delight in the movements of the past, what we long for and need, is the God of Elijah, not Elijah. The God of Elijah lives and longs to be the God of our generation!