Elijah ascended into heaven bodily, personally, and visibly. Note the progression of Elisha's walk to power. He refused to remain at Gilgal, the place where the reproach of Egypt had been rolled away [Josh 5:9,10]. He went with Elijah to Bethel, ''the house of God.'' But he needed more than that. So he proceeded with the prophet from Bethel to Jericho, the place of the curse. But a further step followed in the progression. He walked on to the Jordan, the place of death, and passed through the river with Elijah and on to the other side. This says to the believer that we reckon ourselves ''to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ, our Lord'' (Rom 6:11).
Then, like Christ's disciples centuries later, Elisha watched his mentor being taken up from him into heaven (2Kin 2:11). Take note of the energy of his faith! True faith always counts upon God's faithfulness. Elisha had met God's conditions, so he expected God to fulfill His part. By faith, he took the mantle of Elijah and struck the waters, and they parted. Then he came back across the Jordan the same way he had gone. The power of Elijah was his.
All of this is a beautiful picture of our identification with the Lord Jesus in His death, His resurrection, His ascension, and His present position at the Father's right hand. And, as the spirit of Elijah became Elisha's, so the Holy Spirit indwells the believer to demonstrate through him the resurrection life of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Not only was there dearth in the land, there was also ''death in the pot.'' The food had been poisoned with wild gourds. Those who were to partake of the food did not know of this deadly ingredient. In the New Testament, our Lord warned of ''leaven'' that had been slipped into the flour [Mat 13:33; 16:6,11,12]. And Jude says that ''certain men crept in unawares, ...ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ'' (Jude 1:4). God's children are to be alert to any ''death in the pot,'' any infiltration of sin and error.
How are we to counteract evil's presence? In the biblical account, Elisha ordered meal to be brought and cast into the pot. In the feasts of Jehovah and the sacrifices of the tabernacle, meal pictured the Word of God. That is the antidote for theological poison! ''To the Law and to the Testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them'' (Isa 8:20). The Lord Jesus prayed, ''Sanctify them through thy truth; Thy word is truth'' (John 17:17). Although the written Word of God reveals the living Word, the Lord Jesus, they are inseparable. False doctrine can be counteracted only by the preaching and the teaching of the Bible.
Although Naaman had an exalted position with the king of Syria, was honored by his master, and was a courageous man, the fatal word concerning him is stated starkly in the account. ''He was a leper.'' Leprosy speaks of the defilement of sin, which afflicts every individual. Regardless of fine heredity, acquired culture, extensive education, or moral character, man in the sight of God is a spiritual leper. ''There is none righteous, no, not one'' (Rom 3:10).
This thrilling story of a great man's cleansing is highlighted by the faithful witness of a little maid who had been taken captive into Syria. She was a servant in Naaman's household, and she bore fruitful testimony to God's power through His servant Elisha. The Holy Spirit chooses to use men and women, boys and girls, to give the message of redeeming grace in Christ. Our Lord said to His disciples, ''But ye shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto Me'' (Acts 1:8).
Satan bitterly opposes the operation of the Word of God and the Spirit of God in the work of cleansing spiritual lepers. This is seen clearly in the account of Naaman, where three forces worked against his recovery from leprosy. We read first that he went to the king of Israel, rather than the prophet Elisha (2Kin 5:5).
Second, Naaman had a preconceived idea of the way his cleansing should be accomplished. How like human nature to want some show of the flesh, some spectacular demonstration, rather than simply believing the Word! Naaman said, ''I thought, he will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and cure the leprosy'' (5:11).
The third form of opposition came in the form of prejudice. The leper said, ''We have better rivers than this at home'' (see 5:12). This tendency is often seen today in the stringent denominational formulas that add to the pure gospel. They mix in such demands as joining their church or submitting to some ordinance in order to be assured of salvation. Cleansing for Naaman came only when he obeyed the word of God's prophet and went into the only river specified. No ''rivers'' of man's choosing can ever remove the guilt of sin. There is only one way. ''The blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, cleanseth us from all sin'' (1John 1:7).