February 11, 2018

Pastor Bernt P. Tweit



Gospel Lesson; Mark 9:2-9   

Epistle Lesson; 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2

Sermon Text; 2 Kings 2:1-12a


The portion of God's Word we focus on for today is our Old Testament Lesson, on this Transfiguration Sunday, taken from

2 Kings, chapter 2.  This is God's Word.


When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to Heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah was traveling with Elisha from Gilgal.  Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Bethel.”

Burt Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as your soul lives I will not leave you.”  So they went down to Bethel.

The sons of the prophets who were in Bethel came out to Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord is taking your master away from you?” 

Then he said, “Yes, I know.  Be quiet.”

Then Elijah said to him, “Elisha, stay here because the Lord has sent me to Jericho.”
But he said, “As surely as the  Lord lives and as your soul lives,  I will not leave you.”  So they went to Jericho.

Then the sons of the prophets who were in Jericho approached Elisha and said to him, “Do you know that today the Lord is taking your master away from you?”

He said, “Yes, I know.  Be quiet”
Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here because the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.”

But he said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, I will not leave you.”  So the two of them went on.

Then fifty men from the sons of the prophets came and stood and watched them from a distance, while the two of them were standing at the Jordan.  Elijah took his cloak, folded it together, and struck the water.  The water divided to the right and to the left.  Then the two of them crossed on dry land.

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask me for whatever I can do for you before I am taken from you.”

Then Elisha said, “Let there be a double portion of your spirit on me.”
He said, “You have asked for a difficult thing.  If you see me being taken from you, it will surely be yours.  But if not, then it will not.”

While they were walking and talking, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire came and separated them.  So Elijah went up to Heaven in a whirlwind.  Elisha was watching and crying out, “My father!  My father!  Israel's chariot and its charioteers!”  Then he did not see him anymore.


These are Your Words, Heavenly Father.  Lead us in the way of truth.  Your Word is truth.



Today I would like to accomplish four things.

-I want to talk about Elijah. 

-I want to talk about The Transfiguration. 

-I want to talk about Jesus. 

-And, I want to talk about you, and me.

You know, it wasn't easy being a prophet in Elijah's day.  Before our text, the Bible tells us the king who was reigning during most of Elijah's ministry was a king by the name of Ahab.  He was wicked.  The Bible says this about Ahab.  “He did that which was wicked in the eyes of the Lord.”  As a matter of a fact, he did more evil in the eyes of the Lord, than all of the kings that came before him.

After Ahab died, another king came to power.  His name was Ahaziah.  Also, with Ahaziah the Bible says he, too, did evil in the eyes of the Lord.

During the course of his ministry, Elijah became so depressed, and discouraged, that he actually asked God to take him to Heaven.  “God, please take me to be with you in Heaven.”

It was because of the idolatry that was taking place in his day.  People were worshiping the false gods of Baal and Asherah.  It got so terrible that the Israelites were even sacrificing their own children to these false gods.  He was discouraged.

God came to Elijah, encouraged him, and reminded him that there were seven thousand Israelites who had not worshiped Baal, and not worshiped any of these false gods.  God encouraged Elijah to go, and to minister to them.

So, that is what Elijah did.  He went, and ministered to those people.

Well, that now picks up where our text is for today, in 2nd Kings, chapter two.  Our text for today just really talks about the journey of Elijah, before his departure into Heaven, and his desire to go to “the sons of the prophets”.   They would be what we would call seminaries of today.  He wanted to visit his students, before he went to Heaven.

So, you are going to see the reoccurring theme.  They are in Gilgal.  He travels seven miles south to Bethel.  Then, he is going to travel twelve miles south and east to Jericho.  Then, they are going to keep going east to The Jordan River.  During that time, Elijah is going to say the same thing to Elisha each time.  “Stay here.” 

Each time, Elisha is going to respond to Elijah by saying, “I will not leave you.”

Well, when you hear that, does it remind you of any place else in scripture, where somebody said they were not going to leave somebody else?  I will give you a hint.  It was a daughter-in-law who told her mother-in-law she was not going to leave her.  It was Ruth who told her mother-in-law, Naomi, “Wherever you go, I will go.  Wherever you stay, I will stay.  Your God will be my God.  Your people will be my people.”

Elisha did not want to leave the side of Elijah.  During the account, Elijah who was now encouraged by God is going to encourage all of the sons of the prophets, before his departure into Heaven.

When they come to the Jordan River, that is when Elijah takes his cloak (and always, throughout my lifetime I have envisioned Elijah taking his cloak, wrapping it up like a rat's tail, and snapping the waters of the Jordan River.)  What happens?  The waters part.

When you hear that, does that remind you of other portions of scripture?  It should.  Do you remember when the Children of Israel left Egypt, and the Egyptian army was pursuing them?  When they came to the Red Sea, what happened?  God told Moses to raise his arms, and the waters of the Red Sea parted.  Two million Israelites walked across the Red Sea on dry ground. 

It should also remind you of forty years after that, when the Children of Israel came to The Promised Land.  Joshua was going to lead them in, and what happened?  The priests who were carrying The Ark of the Covenant put their feet in the water, and the Jordan River stopped flowing.  All of the Israelites walked into The Promised Land, across the Jordan River on dry ground.

The same thing happened here.  Elijah and Elisha walked through the Jordan River on dry ground to the other side.

It was there that Elijah said to Elisha, “Ask whatever you want.”  Elisha asked for a double portion of Elijah's spirit.  That simply means he wanted to be the heir apparent.  Elijah was the prophet in The Old Testament.  He was the one who was overseeing these little seminaries, the fifty sons of the prophets, and Elisha was asking if he could be the heir apparent, and if he could be the one who would be the spokesman for God, if he could be the prophet, and proclaim God's Word to other people.

Those fifty sons of the prophets were witnesses of the miracle that took place, of the water dividing.  They would now be witnesses of what would happen next, as Elijah would be taken in a whirlwind, and as a chariot of fire came, and separated Elijah and Elisha from one another.

After Elijah departed, and went into Heaven, Elisha did receive the double portion of Elijah's spirit.  After our text, the Bible tells us he picked up Elijah's cloak, snapped the water, the waters parted, and Elisha walked back into Israel on dry ground.

How in the world does our Old Testament Lesson for today, on the life of Elijah, and his departure into Heaven, what does that have to do with this Transfiguration Sunday?  Transfiguration Sunday is the one that we celebrate just a few days before the Lenten Season begins with Ash Wednesday. 

Here is the connection.  When Jesus was up on the Mountain of Transfiguration, who was present on that mountain?  Three of His disciples were - Peter, James, and John.  But, who also was present with Jesus?  Well, it was Moses, and Elijah. 

Elijah is only one of two people who were taken to Heaven, before they died.  Enoch is the only other one.  Enoch is the father of Methuselah.  The Bible tells us, “Enoch walked with God, and he was no more.” 

God brought Elijah to be with Him in Heaven, gave him a glorified body, and now Elijah is on the Mountain of Transfiguration, along with Moses.  Why?  To prepare Peter, James, and John for their upcoming ministry, as hard as it may be.  As hard it was in the days of Elijah, it was to prepare them for their ministry of proclaiming Jesus to other people.

Today's text should be a picture, because it is a picture of Jesus.  Elijah is a type of 'Christ'.  Elijah departed, and went to Heaven, when his work on earth was complete.  When did Jesus depart, and go to Heaven?  He went to Heaven, when His work on earth was complete.  When was Jesus' work on earth complete?  It was complete, when He said, “It is finished”, on the cross.  It was complete through His glorious resurrection.  For the next forty days, Jesus appeared to over five hundred people.  His work on earth was complete of preparing for your departure, and preparing for our forgiveness of sins, so that we could have everlasting life with Him in Heaven.  Praise be to God for this picture Elijah gives to us, a picture of Christ.  Now our preparation for our departure of being with Him in Heaven.

Today, too, as we look at our text, it also reminds us of how we are like the people of Elijah's day.  You know, we hear about what they did in Elijah's day, worshiping Baal, worshiping Asherah, sacrificing their children to these false gods.  We may say, “We are better than that”, right?  But are we?  The false gods we have may just have different names.  They aren't Baal, they are not Asherah.  We are not sacrificing our children to false gods.  Our false gods just have different names. They are made of steel, chrome, and made of wood.  They are made of green paper.  Again, we may not be sacrificing our children to false gods, but here in our country, with legalized abortion, is it really any different? 

Years ago, our enemies may have been from another country, behind a red curtain, but our enemies are within our own borders, our enemies are in our own bodies.  Our enemies are in our own body and soul.  Our enemy is our own sin. 

So, what a beautiful picture God gives to us in His Word, today.  Just as Elijah was preparing Elisha, and the sons of the prophets for his departure, and theirs, and just as Jesus was preparing Peter, James, and John for their departure, so also, God, in His Word, is preparing you, and He is preparing me for our departure. 

When will our departure come?  Well, it will either happen at the day of our death, or Judgment Day.  We don't know which of those two it will be. 

But, we do know this.  Just as God encouraged Elijah for his ministry, just as Jesus encouraged Peter, James, and John for their ministry, so also, God once again today is encouraging you.  He is encouraging you that He once ascended a mountain far greater than the Mountain of Transfiguration.  That was Mount Calvary.  On Mount Calvary, when Jesus said, “It is finished”, He made full and complete payment for all of our sins, so that we can be prepared, and ready in our faith in Jesus for the day in which we will depart.

Today, we celebrate all of our loved ones, Old Testament, New Testament, even our immediate family, who have departed in the faith to be with Jesus in Heaven.  Jesus encourages us in our ministry today, to reach out to others.  Share the Good News of salvation with them so that we, and they, may be prepared for departure.

God grant this for Jesus, our Savior's sake.



Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.

As it was in the beginning, shall be now, and forever more.