Elisha replied, “Please let me inherit a double portion of your spirit and become your successor.”
Just before Elijah is about to be taken up to heaven, he goes on a tour of key sites in Israel- Gilgal, Bethel, Jericho and the Jordan River. At each place, Elijah tells Elisha to stay, but he refuses.
Elijah asks Elisha what he can do for him before he is taken up to heaven, so Elisha asks for the double portion of Elijah’s spirit.
Suddenly a chariot of fire appears between the two men, and Elijah is lifted up to heaven by a whirlwind. Elisha picks up Elijah’s cloak and uses it to drive back the waters of the Jordan River in order to cross it.
People often ask for a “double portion” of the Holy Spirit, thinking that it is about getting more of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This overlooks the fact that we already have all of the Holy Spirit, and what is needed is for the Holy Spirit to have more of us.
The language of “double portion” refers to inheritance. The first born son inherited twice as much as other sons in order to carry on the family farm or business.
Elisha is asking to inherit Elijah’s ministry as the leading prophet in Israel. He wants to be the successor to Elijah.
The fact is that Elijah and Elisha had a close relationship. Elijah had been mentoring or discipling Elisha for some time. Elijah was a spiritual father to Elisha.
The closeness of the relationship is seen in the grief Elisha experienced at Elijah’s departure. Elisha was not just in the ministry business, he really loved Elijah.
The first step in receiving the “double portion” is to be a son or daughter to a pastor or other leader, seeking to serve them and love them. When we are willing to invest our lives into their lives, then we have the possibility of inheriting their spiritual gifts and graces.
Lord, please help me to love and to serve those over me. Help me to invest my heart and life into their ministry. Amen.