Take Up Your Mantle

(Matthew 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.)
Greetings dear readers. The Lord has been speaking to me on the subject of mantles of late & as always His mighty revelation of His Word amazes me.A mantle is generally understood as a cloak or shawl. In the ancient times of the Bible, the mantle was part of the official garment of a prophet. . The mantle automatically marked a man as a prophet, a spokesman of God. It has various spiritual significance such as the calling & choosing of God, the glory of God, the protection (covering) of God & the authority given by God & also the anointing from above.

The verse above is a verse quoted by many & we are quite familiar with it. But little do we realize that not everyone is chosen even though a ‘call from God was received sometime! When we apply for a job interview, although we may be qualified, we need to pass some tests & interview & if the examiner is pleased we are then chosen. There are many chances that we may not be the choice of the employer despite our qualification. That is how it is in spiritual matters & we are going to look into it in more detail on what it is to be (1) Called & (2) Chosen of God & how we could be a chosen vessel of God.
Let us look into the life of Elisha the prophet in 1 kings 19.Since this is a familiar story for most of us, we will go into how he received the first mantle from Elijah.

Elijah the prophet was fleeing in fear from Jezebel. Tired & weary both physically & emotionally, he was at the point of giving up in surrender to circumstances & even to death since Jezebel was hunting him down to kill him. At such a time, alone in the wilderness, he hears the still small voice of God. 1 kings 19: 13 ‘When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” ‘ . In reverence, humility & the fear of God Elijah wraps his face in his mantle before the holy Lord of hosts as God begins to speak to him. In the verses that follow we read that God tells him to anoint Elisha as prophet in his place. We see that as Elijah humbles himself with the covering of his mantle the Lord sent forth His Call on Elisha. The mantle, in a way, was a witness to the call of Elisha. When Elijah meets Elisha for the first time he throws the mantle over Elisha, signifying the call of God given to him under the mantle. This mantle carried the call of God Himself to Elisha, the Call that was being transferred from Elijah to Elisha. (19 So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat,.And Elijah passed over to him and threw his mantle on him.) Elisha did not ask for the mantle or the Call but it was thrown over to him & freely given. God had predetermined to elect Elisha as his spokesman & prophet & before Elisha knew it the, election was upon him, even literally. The only thing that Elisha did was to receive what was given to him without rejecting it. It is my understanding that the receiving of this first mantle signifies our salvation through Jesus Christ, which is freely given. Just as Elisha did not have to work for the mantle ,we too did not have to do any good works in order to receive salvation

Eph 2: 8 for by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,

Every Christian bears the calling of God.God not only calls us to His side but gives us certain roles to be his witnesses & living testimonies. While some are called to preach or teach His Word, all of us have an assignment to gather souls for Him either directly or indirectly. The bible bears evidence that every believer has a call to gather souls for Him.( Luke 11:23 He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.).Many Christians are doubtful if they are called! When I began my ministry, many leaders confronted me & asked me if I was ‘called’. Sometimes this question embarrassed me as I did not have the right answer at that time, since I grew up under the idea that only preachers were called & I hardly knew how to preach at that time! Although every believer is called, one needs to find out the area of one’s call & this needs deeper revelation. Unfortunately many believers just settle down with the first mantle & are ‘comfortably saved’! They do not want to go beyond that & pursue their call & truly find & walk in the destiny ordained by God. Elisha received not only the mantle of God’s Call but he also received later the Mantle of God’s Choice . He was not only called of God, but was Chosen by God later. The 2nd mantle was received as Elijah was taken up in the chariot is the Mantle of Choice or the Mantle of Destiny. It is easy for us to receive the first mantle, the mantle of His Call during salvation, but to be able to receive the secong Mantle that determines our destiny is quite a challenge.

Let us look into the second mantle of Elisha which carried the power of God to part the Jordan. Elisha had to pass through many tests in order to receive this mantle. We read about it in 2 Kings 2. Here is a link that would take you to the passage we are about to look into : http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Kings+2&version=NASB

The second mantle of Elisha:

Moving forward from Gilgal :
2 Kings 2:1 And it came about when the LORD was about to take up Elijah by a whirlwind to heaven, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.
(Joshua 5:9 And the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” And so the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.)

Gilgal was the place where Joshua had circumcised the Israelites & where they rested for their healing. The Lord was pleased with the circumcision as they obeyed him & made a promise that he had removed their shame they carried from Egypt, the land of their slavery. Many of the Israelites wanted to return to Egypt when they were going through hard times on their journey. Acts 7:39 says ‘their hearts turned back to Egypt’. During salvation the Lord saves us through the blood of Jesus but our thinking does not change immediately. we may be physically away from our old sins but our minds can be fully renewed only as we spend time at the feet of God, reading His word. There needs to be a point in a believer’s life where he/she is totally ‘cut off’ from the evils of the past,& the mind renewed not only in faith, but in actions that follow. This can only happen in a true conversion experience. A circumcision of our hearts needs to take place for God to roll away the shame of our sins. The process is a painful process as the old sin nature tries to surface & sometimes even dominates our lives. This is so vital especially to those who are born in a Christian family with the false notion that their physical birth makes them a Christian. Unlike the ones who have come from a completely non-Christian background, they do not come to a point of confrontation with themselves, acknowledge their sinful state & come into a new covenant of a transformed life. Since there is no significant experience in their spiritual lives ,deep within their hearts they are unsure of their salvation & their stand in Christ. Although they may not indulge in vices, they evaluate their spiritual lives as per the ‘Christian’ society around themselves & not based on God’s word & live empty lives deceiving themselves that they are saved.

There are others who spend their life time in the healing of their past, living in Gilgal & do not want to step forward in their spiritual lives & progress in the things of God. They live in the elementary level of Christianity feeding on the basics & tending the wounds of their past, as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 3:2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able,

Our healing comes to its completion only when we step out in faith. (2 Corinthians 5:
7 for we walk by faith, not by sight–).Sometimes we spend too much time looking at our wounds & failures, instead of moving forward by His word (Joel 3:10 Let the weak say, “I am strong.”)
.In order to receive the 2nd Mantle of God’s destiny, God calls us to move forward from the Gilgal of our lives.

2.Going to Bethel :
2 Kings 2: 2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here please, 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.

Bethel,(meaning house of bread or house of worship) was expressly so named by Jacob, when he had the vision of the heavenly ladder, on his way from his father at Beersheba to Harsh (Genesis 28:19; Genesis 31:13). He set up a pillar, and anointed it with oil, to mark the place where God spoke with him.

Bread, signifying the Word of God, & House of Worship signifying the church of God, the fellowship of believers are the areas we need to go through in order to receive the choice mantle of destiny. The 2 meanings of the Word Bethel imply that we need the divine revelation from God’s Word amidst the fellowship & congregation of the body of Christ. The Bible which says that we are the temple of God also says that we are members of the body of Christ. Some think they are the temple of God & therefore do not need the fellowship of the body of Christ. Isaiah 6:1 says –‘…. I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple.’. God’s robe-his glory & splendor fills His temple, where His people congregate to worship Him. After salvation, it is important for us to be in the fellowship of believers. As iron sharpens iron we would be a blessing to one another in order to receive the destiny God has in store for us. Many believers have not received God’s specific assignment in their lives & are not walking in His call due to the negligence of the fellowship of saints, which may be also a form of spiritual pride.

When Elisha was given the choice of staying back. he insisted on staying with Elijah & going to bethel, where they met with other prophets of God.

3.Discipleship :
Verse 2,4, “As the LORD lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.”

Discipleship is a vast subject by itself, but simply put, a disciple is one who goes through a process of disciplining by his mentor or guide & learns from him. Elisha was not forced to remain with Elijah. Elijah had suggested a few times to leave him behind, but Elisha was very firm on accompanying him wherever he went. This was definitely a sacrifice on the part of Elisha. In a world of independence & self dependence, it may be hard for us to stay on with a certain person constantly & not have the freedom to do what we want we want in our own privacy. The Self is suppressed & the nature of our Master is inculcated into our lives when we so closely follow the leader. Jesus had many followers, but he choose 12 of them to be his disciples & it was to them that he shared the depths of His heart & trusted them to carry out divine assignments to the world. Judas had rejected this discipleship while Peter repented after the betrayal of the master. Discipleship involves a voluntary disciplining of the self. The popular cliché ‘no gain without pain’ comes to mind. A soldier has to go through the disciplines of the army he is recruited in, to qualify.( 2 Timothy 2:4 No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.. ).The word disciple is used loosely these days, but in the true sense discipleship takes self-sacrificing & involves focusing on the master & pleasing him, although this is not a slave-master relationship. God calls us with love to be His disciples. ( John 8:
31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;
).Discipleship involves staying close to the master to obey & please him. That is when impartation takes place from master to disciple. The second mantle that Elisha received implies impartation. Elisha had to sacrifice his personal duties even to his father & followed Elijah. Elijah was like a father to him as we read in 2 Kings 2:12 wherein Elisha cries out as Elijah is taken up ,’My father,my father’. This bonding did not take place overnight but was birthed out of love & devotion with much self sacrifice. This sort of intimacy comes only when much time is spent with the master. Elisha takes an oath saying that he will not leave Elijah at any cost since he knew that it was a very crucial time that he was walking in before his master could be taken away.

In order to receive the second mantle of our destiny, we need to understand the urgency & importance of our times, that without God we cannot go on in this life. Our dependency has to be totally on our Lord & walk with Him as His disciple every hour & minute. Jesus promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us, but we do have the freedom to leave him & go our own way. Many seek him in the time of need but a true disciple continues to be with him during the most difficult times until he receives the mantle, in order to continue in the path of his master & carry out his will after him. Although we don’t have to go through religious discipline ritualistically, a Christian life is a life of discipline in our prayer & Bible reading habits. These days there are a lot of teachings against being religious (ritualistic) or doing things by mere habit instead of from the heart. But some take this to extremes & do not follow a disciplined Christian life but instead live an unruly life being a bad testimony. Paul in the new testament takes much time to write to the churches a lot of teachings on living a disciplined life for the glory of God. When people serving the world have so much discipline towards world authorities, how much more discipline does we need when we serve & follow the King of kings!

4.Be still !!
V3,5 ….”Do you know that the LORD will take away your master from over you today?” And he said, “Yes, I know; be still.”

For some reason the prophets that Elisha came across on the day his master was taken up kept adding to the anxiety & sorrow that Elisha was going through my reminding him about the departure of his master. Since they were prophets of God ,they may have been sent by God in order to remind Elisha not to miss the opportunity of receiving the 2nd mantle. On the other hand, I would also call them the ‘nagging prophets’. They really had a way of annoying Elisha many a times ( See 2 Kings 2:16,17).Whatever it was, it must have caused a great deal of anxiety or panic in the heart of Elisha. But during such a time Elisha learnt to ‘be still’.
In our Christian journey we may come across discouragement & disappointments humanly speaking. What we expect from our fellow believers may not be what we actually receive from them. Our prayers may not be answered in the time we expect it to be answered. The prophetic words that were spoken over our lives may not come to pass in the time frame we expect. No doubt, just as Jesus faced a storm in the boat with his disciples we too may face storms on our way to our destiny. It may drive us to the point to give up & go back like the children of Israel when they left Egypt. Satan always tries to cause a disillusion in us into thinking the past was better & that our holding on to God may not be worth the effort. How do we react to these situations? Maybe Elisha was not prepared to take up the ministry of his master so early & God was reminding him that the time was close at hand. Certain situations we face in life may appear bothersome but god works it all for our good & has a purpose behind it. When we face troubles & trials in our journey, even in our ministry, it is so important to be still before God. The Lord reveals to me a verse that perfectly defines being still before Him -Psalms 131:2 Surely I have composed and quieted my soul; Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me.

Many ministers of God face trying experiences in their ministry. I am reminded of a similar situation in my own ministry. I had preached at a huge church in a certain city, where I felt the presence of God in an amazing & marvelous way even as I sang His praises & shared the word. I felt every word that I spoke literally coming out of the throne of Grace. Although the time given was very short & I almost felt as if a time bomb would explode (looking at the faces of the church leaders) if I happened to exceeded the given time frame! The anointing was so strong & the words precise enough to break every demonic stronghold on the lives of people ! After the sermon many of the people came & expressed how their lives were impacted through my ministry during that brief hour & I was rejoicing in the Lord to hear the testimonies coming forth right there! During that time, someone rushed up to meet & squeezed in a note into my hands & sped away before I could even ask his name. As I read through that note, my heart sank! The note carried evil words of bitterness said against me & my faithful work for God that day. The person who gave it to me happened to be a follower of a cult leader whose teachings seem related to the word of God yet has successfully misguided people into great deception. I knew Satan was trying hard to get me into discouragement so I would give up serving God. But thanks to the Holy Spirit, I felt His gentle tug asking me to be still before God. Ps 46: 10″Cease striving ( Be still ) and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”. God tells us to be still with His assurance that no matter what happens around us, His name will be exalted ultimately in this earth & in our lives & nothing can stop that!

Jesus Himself set an example for us to be still –Matthew 8:24 And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. Jesus was asleep like the weaned child mentioned in Psalm 131:2 even when the boat rocked so hard. When we look at our problems & future that looks so bleak, we lose sight of God & feel perturbed in spirit. We give room to fear & let faith outside the door & instead of walking towards our destiny to receive our 2nd mantle we walk away from God. Many servant of God side track from their call when faced with financial fears & start a ministry outside the will of God which never succeeds. Elisha was able to keep still & also instructed those around him to remain still & was able to receive the mantle. Being still means staying far away from that which could distract us & keeping our eyes on Godson the way to our destiny, our path will always have distractions that steal our time & if possible our very relationship with God & causes us to wander away from the will of God. It is important to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit & strictly follow His path to our destiny.

Being Still before God also signifies staying in His presence in prayer & meditation. God cannot speak to us when our minds are preoccupied with other worldly matters. He is a God of peace & where there is confusion, peace cannot reside. Just as he spoke to Elijah in a still small voice & not in the thunder or earthquake, He wishes to speak to us & guide us to that 2nd mantle when we abide in His presence.

5.Crossing the Jordan:

2 Kings 2: 6 Then Elijah said to him, “Please stay here, for the LORD has sent me to the Jordan.” And he said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on.

In the above passage we understand how Elisha was not only disciplined enough to stay with his master but was committed enough to walk through difficult terrain with him. Elijah was about to cross the river Jordan & Elisha did not know that the Lord would miraculously divide the river for them to walk on dry ground. Yet he did not fear the hazardous journey that was ahead but decided to stay committed & follow Elijah even if it endangered his life! God honored this step of faith & divided the river for them to walk on dry ground. Elisha set aside fear & took the leap of faith to trust God.
Receiving the second mantle & achieving our destiny’s end requires boldness & faith. The Bible is right when it says without faith it is impossible to please God & God does reward that faith in leading us into that destiny .(Read Heb 11:6).Sometimes we get too comfortable where we are & don’t want to take risks in our lives for God. in 1 Chron 12:32 The Bible bears record of the men of Issachar, who understood the times & seasons and knew what Israel should do. When we give room to complacency we lose this spirit of discernment & miss out on the great plans that God has for us. Complacency & fear of the future can never get us to our destiny. Elisha had to cross this barrier in order to receive the mantle.

The river Jordan was the river that John baptized our savior Jesus. That is where he received the testimony of the father & the Holy spirit, from where his ministry began. It is essential that we cross this ‘Jordan’ in our lives in order to be able to walk in our assignment. Many of us know what God has called us for, like the receiving of the first mantle, but are unable to walk into that assignment & fulfill the will of God in our lives. We sometimes linger around ‘Bethel’ or ‘Jericho’ when God want us to get past our ‘Jordan’ & receive the power & grace of His commission, impartation & our destiny.
The river Jordan also signifies the sufferings & sorrows of life that could discourage the Christian who is walking towards his destiny. Some may not believe in the doctrine of suffering but yet all of us go through it at least to some degree in life. The only difference is our attitude towards it! God gives us a positive attitude through the joy that He offers which far exceeds what one one would would consider the pains of life. In order to receive the great mantle of God we need to ignore the sorrows of life ,by the peace & joy that He offers in trusting Him. The old song comes to mind: Trust in the Lord & don’t despair, He is a friend so true. No matter what your troubles are, Jesus will see you through.’

6.Staying focused

2 Kings 2:10 He said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so.”

Staying focused seems to be one of the most difficult things a human can do! Elijah’s statement ‘You have asked a hard thing’, makes me wonder if he actually meant receiving the mantle or staying focused! Although I meant that just to add some humor herein a fast world everyone finds it difficult to pay attention to something for even a small period of time. Some say that the average attention span can vary from 20 minutes to just 8 seconds. We live in a restless world & in a struggle to survive or for some unknown cause our minds wander from one thing to another in a matter of seconds. Elijah tells Elisha that if he wanted to receive the double portion he needed to have his eyes on his master.

How can we look unto or stay focused on an unseen God?
It is truly difficult in a world of attractions & distractions to stay focused on God since we do not see him through our fleshly eyes. So how do we focus on someone whom we are unable to see? The only way is to see Him in our spiritual eyes. To have the eyes of our hearts enlightened through prayer & bible reading (Ephesians 1:18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, ).When we do so we are able to ‘set the lord before’ us & can be unshakeable on our way to our destiny.
(Psalm 16:8 I have set the Lord continually before me;Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.) Many of us are trying to stagger into our destiny but unable to make it because we have set other so called priorities before ourselves other than God.

The second thing that helps us keeping focused on God is to look beyond our present circumstances,and to look ahead & the future glory. Jesus Himself set an example for us:
Hebrews 12:2 looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of [our] faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.-The joy that was set before Jesus was the joy of seeing us saved through His blood. This is the joy that can motivate us to stay focused on God on our journey to our destiny. Our purpose in getting into our destiny is really not for ourselves but for God’s purpose to be established in & through us, to make us a blessing to the multitudes of people who are dying in ignorance of God. When we live for this purpose our journey is smooth. When our eyes are opened, we are not only able to stay focused on God but an inner healing takes place. Isaiah 6:10 Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”- When Jesus broke bread before the disciples, who had almost given up hope on Him, their eyes were opened (Lk 24:31) The breaking of bread signifies the word of God. the more we read His word the closer our focus gets on Him & the world & flesh fades away from our attention. In 2 kings 6;17 Elisha prays for the eyes of his servant Gehazi to be opened & He sees the army of God & immediately all fear disappears. When we stay focused on God our journey to the destiny ordained by Him get’s much closer, our faith increases & all fear vanishes.

Heb 11: 27By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible

7.Taking up the Mantle:
2Kings 2: 13 He also took up the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and returned and stood by the bank of the Jordan. 14He took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and struck the waters and said, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the waters, they were divided here and there; and Elisha crossed over.

As Elisha is about to step into his destiny there is one most difficult step that he had to take & that is the step of faith. When Elijah first met Elisha we notice that Elijah himself threw his mantle upon Elisha. But here we read that he had to take the mantle himself that just fell out of Elijah’s grip. Although the mantle was left behind for him, he could have ignored it & gone about in unbelief, immersed in the sorrow of losing his revered master-whom he now addresses as ‘father’. Having gone through a long day of trials & tribulations, he still did not give up. After all what was a little piece of cloth to him when his master, under whose shadow he lived was snatched away. The man behind the power was gone but not the faith of Elisha. Brushing aside his tears & ignoring the shock of his loss, he goes for the mantle with much effort & takes it into his hand. Like the rod of Moses, God’s power & authority descends on him & the double portion of the spirit of Elijah descends on him in this act of faith. James 2:26 says that faith without works is dead. There may be times in our lives when our faith is tested so much that we feel like giving up. But when we put action to our faith we see miracles blossoming. Elisha took up the mantle & struck the waters of Jordan calling on the name of God & the waters were divided. Miracles after miracles follow him. Elisha performed exactly twice the amount of miracles compared to Elijah as recorded in the Bible. The anointing, the ‘hard thing’, that he had asked was poured over his life as he took up the mantle in faith & after his death the resurrection life power of God rested upon his bones bringing dead men to life .( 2 Kings 13:21 )

Many of us give up at the crucial moment of a miracle. The old song ‘Don’t give up on the brink of a miracle’, comes to mind. Proverbs 13:12 says that waiting in hopelessness can weary the soul but the desire fulfilled is a tree of life. Many folks are unwilling to take up the challenges of life & succumb to defeat. God has a plan & a destiny for each one of our lives but there is a whole process in getting into that place of God’s choice. Many who are called are unable to enter this place of God’s choice due to complacency, being satisfied with something that caught their attention on their way to their destiny. Abraham left his father’s house just like Elisha did ,& followed the voice of God. After much waiting he still did not grow weary but grew stronger in faith (Rom 4:20 ) & in the end became the father of the nations & the father of faith. In spite of that the earthly blessings did not satisfy him as his mind was set on things above.

Heb 11: 8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Although God loves us enough to grant us all the earthly blessings we so desire, I believe that people whose sole aim in life is just to get into that earthly destiny have lost site of the eternal purpose & eternal blessings that God has to offer. Many servants of God have gone into the pursuit of wealth that perishes & have lost sight of God’s purpose in their lives. Many are stuck on their journey like the soldiers of Joshua at Gilgal, either nursing their wounds or relishing in the abundance they find on their journey to their destiny but sadly have not made it to their destiny. Such people have not received the fullness of their reward mentioned in Ruth 2:12 although they may presume that they have. Only eternity can tell us how far behind we have lived in accordance to God’s standards. We need to ask God for a true revelation of what His purpose is in our lives & where & how he wants to lead us.

God’s destiny is a place of triumph & he desires that we walk into that victory. Destiny is a place where we walk INTO the Call of God & not just hear His call. But the whole journey to it involves faith,steadfastness,perceivearance & much more as we just read above. The first mantle may be free but there is a price to pay for the second mantle of destiny & when we do so we receive the impartation to live the rest of our lives for the glory of God. May the Lord gives us all His grace to move forward to our destiny in faith, that we may be able to live our lives to His fullest purpose & enter into the eternal destiny where he greets us & says ,’Well done my faithful servant…enter into the joy of the Lord’.