“And Elijah said to Elisha, “Please stay here, for the LORD has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, ‘As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So they went down to Bethel” (2 Kings 2:2, ESV).
Recently we saw that Elijah and Elisha were leaving Gilgal. We learned that the name Gilgal means “circle” and was, historically, a place of salvation and deliverance for the Israelites. Salvation and deliverance are great things, but we will never develop into the people that God has called us to be if we don’t move on to deeper things (which is part of a theme we see in the rest of the story hint hint).
The problem with Gilgal is that a circle has no direction; it is an endless loop. Many make the mistake of thinking that, in coming to Christ, they have arrived. That is categorically false. Getting stuck in the place of salvation leads to religion and ritual, which are devoid of the Spirit of God. Paul said, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3, ESV). Instead, we need to seek God continually for direction and growth.
Elijah is led of the Lord to go to Bethel and he tells Elisha to stay in Gilgal, but Elisha was having none of it. From the very start Elisha had committed to following and serving God, and Elijah. He reiterates his commitment with an oath here in verse two.
Bethel means “house of God,” and it was an important place for the Israelites. It is here that Jacob had two visions. When he received the first he was running away from Esau, and the second as he was returning. Tomorrow we will look a little more closely at those visions.
Blessings on your week!