II. THE RAPTURE OF ELIJAH
In 2 Kings 2:1-18 we have an account of the rapture of Elijah.
A. Elijah Trying to Leave Elisha,
and Elisha Not Letting Him Go, in Three Steps
At the time when Jehovah was to take up Elijah by a whirlwind into heaven, Elijah tried to leave Elisha, and Elisha did not let him go, in three steps (vv. 1-8). The first step was from Gilgal to Bethel (vv. 1-3); the second step was from Bethel to Jericho (vv. 4-5); and the third step was from Jericho to the river Jordan. Fifty sons (disciples) of the prophets went and stood opposite them at a distance. Elijah struck the water with his mantle, and the water parted so that he and Elisha crossed over on dry ground (vv. 6-8).
Elijah and Elisha are both types with much spiritual significance. Elijah is a type of the Old Testament age, and Elisha is a type of the New Testament age. The age was changed by passing through four places—Gilgal, Bethel, Jericho, and the river Jordan.
Gilgal was a place where God’s people dealt with their flesh (Josh. 5:2-9). The children of those who came out of Egypt had not been circumcised, indicating that their flesh had never been dealt with. When they crossed the Jordan to begin fighting to gain the good land, they first dealt with their flesh by being circumcised at Gilgal.
From Gilgal Elijah and Elisha went to Bethel. In Genesis 12, when Abraham came out of Chaldea (giving up the world) and came to Bethel, he built an altar to offer everything to God. This indicates that Bethel is the place to give up the world and turn to God absolutely, taking God as everything.
Elijah then led Elisha to Jericho. The first city that Joshua and the people of Israel had to defeat when they entered into the good land was Jericho. Jericho signifies the head of God’s enemy, Satan.
Finally, Elijah and Elisha went to the river Jordan, which signifies death. The New Testament baptism, putting people into death, began from the Jordan (Matt. 3:5-6, 13). To cross the river Jordan, Elijah struck the water with his mantle. Elijah’s mantle typifies the outpoured Spirit, the Spirit of power. The Spirit of power, which some Bible teachers call the "mantle Spirit," dealt with the river of death so that the way was opened for Elijah and Elisha to cross over.
As we consider the significance of all these types, we see that in order for the age to be changed from the Old Testament to the New Testament, we must deal with our flesh, give up the world and turn to God, defeat Satan, and pass through death.
(Life-Study of 1 & 2 Kings, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)