Pick It Up
By Bishop Wayne Malcolm
Presiding Bishop, ICAN Community Church, London
Foundation Scripture: 2 Kings 2: 12-14
Sunday 28th July 2013
From our foundation scripture, Iet me start by bringing your attention to one interesting fact that the mantle we read about did not fall on Elisha, it fell on the ground. Elisha had to pick it up.
Elijah is a very interesting character in the scriptures, a prophet raised up by God during a very dark season in the history of Israel, perhaps the darkest point in their story. Ahab, the ruling king had married a Sidonian princess named Jezebel, a pagan who outlawed the worship of Yahweh. The prophets in Israel were being hunted down and executed in the streets. Statues to Baal were erected throughout the land, with the ultimate aim to eradicate every memory of the godly history of Israel. Prophets were on the run and Jews who still believed in and worshipped Yahweh went under cover. It was against this background that God raised Elijah with tremendous power to address Jezebel's agenda.
However, Elijah was still a man. It is very important that we realise that a man of God is first a man and scriptures did not hide this fact from us, taking us into the inner life of Elijah and giving us a glimpse into his emotional complexity. Right from his height of great victory to those times when he felt defeated, discouraged, depressed and even suicidal.
The scriptures recorded seven major miracles during Elijah's ministry, including the fire that fell on Mount Carmel.
As he reached the end of his ministry and became disillusioned, God had to call him home. As mentioned above, the bible does not hide the flaws of bible characters - whether it was an Adam in the Garden of Eden, Abraham, Isaac or Jacob, their flaws are recorded for us to read. The reason is because the bible is not about these characters, it is primarily and mainly about Jesus.
These biblical characters were only meant to illustrate an aspect of Jesus, and it was deliberate in exposing us to their flaws so that, firstly we do not begin to worship them and secondly, so that we do not exclude ourselves from the arena of greatness due to a personal weakness or shortcoming. So God took Elijah - transporting him with a chariot of fire into glory.
There is a passage in scripture about Elijah that I struggled with for a while, trying to grasp and understand its meaning in Malachi 4:5-6: 'Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse'. I struggle to associate Elijah with connecting fathers to sons. This is not a reference to a resurgence of Elijah in the physical, that's obvious. We know it refers to John the Baptist who came in the spirit and power of Elijah, but why is Elijah associated with connecting fathers to sons and vice versa. Then I realised that Elijah is perhaps the only man in scriptures who mentors and raises a prophet in his stead who is not his biological son, making him the heir of his ministry, legacy and anointing. We see this from our foundation scripture, where Elisha refers to Elijah in verse 12 as 'My father'.
Now I understand that passage; Elijah is perhaps that one man whose heart was turned to the next generation before he departed to glory. He was concerned about succession and handling over his legacy. Let me re-echo Rev Celia's words: 'If you do not have a successor, you are writing your own name out of history'. In God's programme, a father's legacy is meant to be his children's inheritance. This means that the children start from the platform of their father's highest achievement, and take the family forward to new levels and heights that their predecessor hardly envisaged. In the Jewish culture, things are not meant to deteriorate but to multiply and increase with time.
Fathers expect their children to go further, and as a result, they pour their lives into their children in order to ensure this.
Abraham passes on his spiritual and physical estate to Isaac, having been blessed by God and as a result becoming very rich. Isaac, although having inherited a great fortune, including the wells of Abraham goes on to dig his own wells, enjoying the double portion of the anointing. Jacob inherits the wealth of two generations, and multiplies the wealth by his own industry. This pattern continues throughout Israel's history.
Let me illustrate this further with the priestly legacy of Israel. We all know that Aaron was the first high priest of Israel - God designed his garment: the material and the medallion. Moses placed the priestly garment on Aaron and anointed him as priest of Israel, pouring a whole vial of oil upon on his head that flowed onto his garment. This same inauguration ceremony was repeated when his son Eleazar was installed as the next priest of Israel, wearing the same robe worn by his father throughout his lifetime. The pouring of the oil on his head demonstrated that term; 'the double portion of the anointing'. This same garment, passed down from Aaron to Eleazar and is passed onwards from one generation to the other. With each generation, fresh oil is poured on the head of the priest, and mixes with the last anointing oil. So the priest is carrying a generation blessing each time he stands to minister before God.
Let's turn the spotlight on Elisha for a while. He was not just one of the several prophets that followed Elijah's ministry from afar. Elisha got involved and participated in every aspect of Elijah's ministry - he was not one of those I preached about last night 'What's in it for me?' , but rather he said 'What's in me for him?' He was not in it for what he could get but for what he could give. He said to himself 'If I can give him a glass of water, or carry his clothes, if I can assist him as he goes, I would gladly serve as best as I can'. Most of the other prophets knew that God was going to take Elijah, but they still watched him from afar. So did Elisha, but rather he chose to get closer to Elijah. Elisha followed Elijah throughout his journey from one city to another, refusing to lose sight of him, despite Elijah's words. This describes the kind of believer that sticks with a father through the various transitions that a father makes. Hence, I would like to charge those of you who have been in New Wine for a while now. You are in the vicinity of this translation. Don't lose sight of what God is doing presently.
Shortly before Elijah left, he asked Elisha, 'What do you want me to do for you? to which he replies 'I want the double portion of your spirit'. The problem we have in our culture today is the fact that we have a group of idolatous believers who idolise men of God to the point that when we look back in history at our iconic faith heroes, we aspire to be half as great. In the Hebrew culture, it was a disgrace for a son to be half as great as his father. The reason is simple, the next generation is always dealing with a greater devil, challenges and situations that an 'old anointing' cannot address.
Let me give you an example that drives home the point. This church is based in Woolwich. Woolwich is on the map - It was on the map when this ministry began twenty years ago. Recently, the entire world turned their attention to Woolwich, and they are associating this area with violence, terror, and atrocity. We need an anointing that we've never had before. Now we need a double portion of the anointing. Elisha was very clear about this, and we also need to emulate this.
Elijah said to Elisha, 'if you see me go, then you can have this'. In Hebrew it means, 'if you see my vision, or see with my eyes what I see, then you can have the double portion'.
How can we interpret this in our days? Here it is - 'If you can see the church I see, then you can have it'. When sitting under a ministry, you have to decide what you want.
So Elisha sticks by and sees the chariot swing low to pick up Elijah, and moves away into the skies and then his mantle falls to the ground. This was the mantle Elijah used in parting the Jordan - it was the symbol of his authority, anointing, legacy and spiritual estate.
Elisha picks up the mantle. There is a secret that I want you to pay attention to; the mantle only becomes active in your life when you consciously pick it up and decide to pick up the mission of the man of God.
You need to say this to yourself 'I am not going to leave the tapes in the archives, I will go back and listen to it over and over again. I will invest in the teachings that I have received from the man of God, and start to digest and ruminate over it and begin to see the church that he saw.' It may be within your reach, but you need to decide to consciously pick it up.
Elisha was no longer looking for Elijah, but for the God of Elijah. He accepts that Elijah has gone. As the church, we should now look and seek after the God of Dr Tayo Adeyemi. No one can be a replica of Dr Tayo, because each one of us are individuals. We are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. No two humans are identical, we are all diferent. We are designed for a specific role in the purpose and programme of God. If you want to activate your mantle, look for the God of the man.
Why? Because the God of my father is limitless and timeless. He is not bound by the human frailty. He is not limited to my title or my office, to my position in a church hierarchy. The God of my father can use me like he used my father and take me to another level. I am looking for the God of my father, 'Where is He?' I want to know the God of my fathers. I want to walk with God like he walked with God. If I find the God of my father, then I have found my father's secret and source.
Elisha was quite mart. He understood that tne mantle represents something. The power in the mantle is the God of the mantle. If all I pick up is the mantle and not the God, then all I have is a garment that is lifeless and stagnant. This is lifeless and godless. We are not just going to pick up the work of Dr Tayo, but we would also pick up the relationship he had with God.
Every time I have been here for Maximise Life, I have left with more words. You have all preached to me than I can preach to you. I may not be able to capture them digitally, but I have captured them in my heart.
I have found out something about faith. We always tend to struggle with this because theologically we are people of faith, but sometimes when our realities collide with our fantasies, when our experiences collides with our theology, then we have to decide which of the two we believe.
Now here is real faith: Faith comes by hearing. The word of God is the source of our faith, and the word of God is a two-edged sword. Let me talk about the two edges of faith. There is the faith to get things, which is the faith that we emphasize. But there is also the faith to get through things. Jesus' faith that he could have used to prevent the humiliation and agony of the cross was instead used to accept the process of the cross. Scriptures says he did it by faith (Hebrews 12:2). The faith to accept a process is the other side of faith, which spiritual infants typically don't have. This is the reason why I have been challenging us all week to grow up, and make the transition from childhood to sonship; to become a stronger people. You know that maturation even on a biological level is not measured by how much you can receive but by how much you can endure. That's why when you see a young man dealing with a difficult situation in his life, to encourage him you typically say 'I can see you are growing up'.
Our school system is designed to create hardship for children with tests, puzzles and riddles in order to squeeze out maturation from the child. It is your suffering that qualifies you to lead others in life; it is your suffering that manufactures your anointing and gives authenticity and authority to your voice. It is just as much faith to go through a situation that you need to receive a miracle from God. So there are some people who by faith receive an healing and some who by the same faith endure a sickness.
So Elisha, who received the double portion of his father's spirit eventually witnesses 13 major miracles in his lifetime - one short of the fourteen to complete the double portion that he requested for. However, even though Elijah went up to heaven by a chariot, Elisha fell sick and eventually passes away. It takes a dimension of faith to heal others and not be able to heal yourself - It is called trust. Years ago, I experienced the same situation. I fell really ill and was not sure if I was going to recover from the sickness. What frustrated me even more were some of the believers who came up to me and said 'Bishop, you need to have more faith'. Yet, I had witnessed several miracles in my meetings from a recently concluded meeting in India, where the lame walked back home and the blind received their sight. I knew it was not an issue of faith - I needed to trust and accept that whatever the outcome of the sickness, I would praise God's great name.
God who keeps covenant kept his word and ensured that the fourteenth miracle happened after Elisha's passing. I have stopped by New Wine today to say to you all that you must never allow Pastor's passing to overshadow his life, to silence his voice, diminish or conclude his ministry but rather it should magnify his life, amplify his voice and multiply his ministry. I know Pastor passed on in faith, and there was one more miracle he had not yet seen, it is the vision 'the church I see'. And just like God kept covenant with Elisha, I know He will keep his covenant to this ministry as well. This miracle is still going to happen!
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