TODAY’S READING: 2 Kings 1–4
Interpreters point out that Elijah was more verbose than Elisha, that Elijah gave more speeches and Elisha did more miracles. With varying percentages both prophets bore witness in sign and deed. Missionary life and witness requires the integration of sign, word, and deed with a priority on proclamation. We are not the Christ. We are heralds, witnesses, town criers, watchmen, voices in the wilderness. We open our mouths and explain the good news. The insertion point may be arbitrary (kind, loving acts can certainly open hard hearts and closed ears), but biblically, missionary witness is not complete unless there is gospel proclamation in the heart language and culture. In missions there is a priority of verbal proclamation (evangelizing, teaching, preaching) and a necessity of loving deeds. Even if Elijah was the verbose one, he ended with a flash of fire. His last public miracle was sitting on a hill and calling fire down from heaven (2 Kings 1:6–14) and his last public act was ascending to heaven in a chariot of fire (2:11). Reminds me of the Rich Mullins song: “But when I leave I want to go out like Elijah.” Let’s get to the end as passionate for the glory of God among the nations as we started, through word and deed pointing unreached peoples to Jesus.
Along the way, Elijah and Elisha give us some great missionary pointers:
Go…do not be afraid of him (1:15). This imperative is somewhat comical as “him” is a lowly captain of fifty who just waded around two fried captains and their cohorts and knees-knocking pleaded for his life. Let us not forget that we represent the God who answers (and calls home) by fire. We can stand before any captain, prince, king, or principality knowing their knees knock in fear, not ours. Missionaries must never forget the awesome power they represent.
Stay under authority (2:6). If we want the blessing of the ancients, if we want the mantle of the anointed who have gone before us, we must stay under authority. We can’t ask for the blessing and not stay submitted to those God uses to fashion us. Authority is who you run to in times of trouble, not just those above you in the organizational chart. We must remain submitted and attached to both moral and positional authority if we want to receive and steward their spiritual gains.
Dig big ditches and assemble many vessels (3:16; 4:3). Missionaries need to build arks. We need to have the faith (assurance and conviction of Hebrews 11:1 NASB) to prepare before we can see. Good missionaries believe there will be harvest and in that obedience (this is our work—to believe) prepare for the great things God will do, knowing that to whatever degree we prepare, God will fill those ditches and vessels.
Be single-eyed (4:29). Elisha told Gehazi: “Get yourself ready. Be on your way. Don’t greet anyone.” There must be a missionary minimalism about us. A single eye on Jesus and His glory among the nations. All else pushed to the side, including good things. We must have a “this one thing I do” mentality, a “consider all things loss” focus, for the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ and making Him known.
Lock yourself in with the dead and the Lord of life (4:32–33). Reminiscent of Jesus putting everyone out of the house, Elisha locked himself in with a dead boy and the Lord of resurrection power. Missionaries need to live embedded with the lost, surrounded by the dead and dying, filled and fueled with the Ever-Living. To be missionary is to intentionally lock yourself in with the lost and with Jesus and to go to work in prayer.
Give what you have, and don’t bemoan what you have not (4:42–44). Prefiguring what Jesus told the disciples, Elisha told his disciple to give the 100 men the little bread he had and they ate and were satisfied. We usually attach this to miracles of physical provision, but it’s just as true about the word and knowledge of God. Give what we know of Jesus to the unreached. We might not have much, but we give it—and astoundingly there are leftovers.
 Rich Mullins. “Elijah.” https://genius.com/Rich-mullins-elijah-lyrics. Accessed June 25, 2019.