ELISHA receives the Mantle from ELIJAH
STORYTELLING lesson plan
Scripture Passage: 2 Kings 2:1-15
Key/Memory Verse: “Elisha said, ‘Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.’” 2 Kings 2:9b [NRSV]
The class will be visited by two volunteers portraying Elisha and Elijah who will tell their stories and talk about passing on the mantle. The focus of the interview will be to help the children know who Elijah and Elisha are. The visit will be followed by discussion about mantles received from mentors such as parents, teachers, and others.
Objective(s) for rotation
- Locate the story in the Old Testament portion of the Bible.
- Tell the story in their own words.
- Discuss the relationship between Elijah and Elisha -- teacher/disciple.
- Explore the meaning of Elisha’s request for a double portion of Elijah's spirit.
- Explore the meaning behind Elijah's passing the mantle to Elisha.
- Discuss ways they learn from parents and teachers and pick up their "mantles."
- Know who Elijah and Elisha are and know a bit about what they did.
Read Bible Background (written by Jaymie Derden for Rotation.org) and Scripture.
- Bible times costumes for Elijah and Elisha (including one mantle/cloak)
- Posterboard or flipchart
- String for nametags
Advance Preparation Requirements
- SCHEDULING CONSIDERATION
If the children are studying Elijah before this rotation on Elisha, consider using this workshop as a bridge between the two rotations. That is, have all the classes meet together for the Open and Dig portions of this lesson plan and then break into their separate age groups for the Reflect part of the lesson.
- Write memory verse on posterboard or flipchart.
- Make nametags for Elijah and Elisha: write their names in large print on paper and put string on the paper so they can wear the nametags around their necks.
- Recruit two volunteers to be Elijah and Elisha. They need to prepare by reading the appropriate passages about themselves in 1 and 2 Kings (1 Kings 17 through 2 Kings 13) and learn their parts. It is not necessary to memorize the script word for word – it can be used as an outline of the subjects to be discussed. It is preferable that the volunteers are men. If the children know the volunteers, just remind them that this is the Storytelling Workshop, and they are required to use their imaginations. If one volunteer is visibly older than the other is, he should be Elijah. Otherwise, consider having Elijah wear a beard or coloring his hair gray in order to give the children a visual cue to help them remember who came first.
- Write discussion questions for the Workshop Leader/Moderator on notecards.
- Practice the conversation before the first workshop.
Open – Introduction
Open with prayer, such as “Lord, thank you for bringing us together today to hear your Word. Please help us as we learn what it means ‘to take up the mantle’ in order to serve you. Amen.”
- Whom do you learn from?
- How do you learn?
- Make sure the discussion includes that one way we learn is by watching – not only by watching a demonstration but also by seeing an example lived by another person.
- Talk about what a disciple is and what it means to be a disciple.
- Make sure the children understand the Biblical concept of inheritance – that the oldest son inherits two shares of the property. Talk about what can be inherited besides money such as land, possessions, family traits, and traditions.
Read the Scripture. Show the children how to find 2 Kings. Have them open the Bible in the middle and then open the front half in the middle again; they will generally land in one of the books of Samuel or Kings. Show them how to find chapter and verse numbers. Ask for volunteers to read, or read the Scripture to them.
Review the memory verse. Read and repeat it. Explain that Elisha was not being greedy. He was not asking for twice as much as Elijah had; he was asking to be Elijah’s spiritual heir and inherit the opportunity to continue his work as a prophet of God.
Dig - Main Content
Talk about what a prophet is.
Say, “Today, you are going to meet two prophets. Please welcome to our Storytelling Workshop two special guests: Elijah [he enters] and Elisha [he enters].” Invite both to sit down.
Follow the suggested interview script at the end of this lesson plan.
If the volunteers are comfortable with their characters and if time permits, consider opening the floor for questions and answers.
Thank Elijah and Elisha for their time. [They leave.]
Reflect – Closure
- The piece of clothing that Elisha inherited from Elijah represented what?
- What do you think the expression “take up the mantle” means?
- From whom might you take up the mantle? How? Why?
Review the memory verse.
Journal or discuss: Who is your “spiritual father” and what do you hope to inherit from him?
If you are doing this as discussion, give the children a few moments of quiet time to reflect before you take answers.
Talk about the children’s spiritual mentors. If the children are willing to share names, jot them down so you can pray for them by name in the closing prayer.
Close with prayer. Pray for the “spiritual fathers” (by name, if possible) and their followers.
Adaptations - Younger Children
Shorten the interview for shorter attention spans. Leave out the discussion of the Transfiguration, the repetition in the retelling of the journey to reach the other side of the Jordan, and some of the miracle stories.
Adaptations - Older Children
Divide the class into groups of two or three. Give each group an index card with a Scripture reference for one of the stories about Elijah or Elisha. Have the groups read their stories (each group should read a different story) and then tell the rest of the class about another one of the things that Elijah or Elisha did.
Nelson, Richard. Interpretation: First and Second Kings. Louisville: John Knox Press, 1987.
Tyndale House Publishers. “Notes.” Life Application Bible. Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 1991.
Written for Rotation.org by Amy Crane
Copyright 2007 Rotation.org
A representative of Rotation.org reformatted this post to improve readability.
SUGGESTED SCRIPT: A CONVERSATION WITH ELIJAH AND ELISHA
This script is based on the NRSV Bible translation. It is meant only to be an outline. Please add or shorten as available class time and the talent of the volunteers permit. The Workshop Leader acts as moderator in this conversation. She/he can have the questions written on notecards and prompt the volunteers as needed with additional questions. Scripture references are noted in brackets and are for reference only.
MODERATOR: Welcome, gentlemen. I am so glad that you are able to be here with us today.
ELIJAH: Thank you! I always enjoyed spending time with Elisha. Elisha, I see you are still wearing that old mantle!
ELISHA: Yes, I still wear it. It is a sign of my position as a prophet of God. [Zechariah 13:4] I still remember vividly the day that I received the mantle as my own.
MODERATOR: That was an amazing day. Do tell us more about it.
ELIJAH: Elisha, I remember you would not leave me. I was traveling from place to place. I knew the time had come for me to be taken to the LORD. I sort of wanted to be alone. I encouraged you to stay in Gilgal.
ELISHA: And I would not. I felt I must be with you. I said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” [2 Kings 2:2b]
ELIJAH: You started to sound a bit like a broken record. I encouraged you to stay in Bethel while I traveled on to Jericho.
ELISHA: Yes, again I said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” [2 Kings 2:4b] In each place, all the prophets told me that the LORD would take you away from me that very day. Of course, I knew that. And I stayed with you.
MODERATOR: And you continued to travel with Elijah that day?
ELISHA: Yes. After Jericho, the LORD sent Elijah on to the River Jordan. He wanted to go without me. Yet again I said, “As the LORD lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” [2 Kings 2:6b]
MODERATOR: So you went down to the banks of the Jordan River?
ELIJAH: Actually, we crossed the river.
MODERATOR: There wasn’t a bridge there, though, was there?
ELISHA: No. But thanks to God, we didn’t need one. Elijah took his mantle – this mantle I am wearing – and rolled it up and struck the water. The water was parted to one side and to the other, and the two of us crossed on dry ground.
ELIJAH: It was just like the day that the LORD gave Joshua and the Israelites a dry crossing at the very same place when they entered the Promised Land so long ago.
ELISHA: We ended up on the far side of the Jordan River – outside the Promised Land. It seemed rather mysterious – almost as if we had left the world we knew behind.
ELIJAH: After we crossed the river, I asked Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double portion of your spirit.”
MODERATOR: A double share?!
ELISHA: Yes. I wasn’t being greedy. I just wanted to continue Elijah’s work as a prophet of the LORD.
ELIJAH: But the request was not mine to grant; only God could answer that request. I told Elisha how he would know if God had granted his request.
MODERATOR: How was that shown?
ELIJAH: I told Elisha that if he saw me taken from him, he would know that the LORD has granted him his double share.
ELISHA: And I did see it happen. It was the most amazing thing! A chariot of fire and horses of fire came between us. Elijah was carried into heaven by a whirlwind. I knew then that God had granted my request. I felt that Elijah was my father – my spiritual father. And I was so much in despair; I tore my clothes as a sign of mourning.
MODERATOR: But how did you get the mantle?
ELIJAH: It fell off of me in the whirlwind and was left behind.
ELISHA: I picked it up from where it had fallen and took it and struck the Jordan as Elijah had done. The river parted to two sides and I crossed over. The fifty prophets at Jericho had been watching at a distance. When I crossed, they came to me and bowed down and said, “The spirit of Elijah rests on Elisha.” [2 Kings 2:15b]
ELIJAH: They could tell he had inherited my spirit.
MODERATOR: I understand, Elisha, that you searched high and low for Elijah after he was carried off by the whirlwind.
ELISHA: Yes, it seems that even though the prophets recognized the authority I had received that had been Elijah’s, they did not see him carried up in the whirlwind. Remember, seeing it happen was God’s sign that I was to inherit Elijah’s work.
ELIJAH: The fifty prophets thought that perhaps the spirit of the LORD had caught me up and thrown me down on some mountain or in some valley.
ELISHA: They insisted on searching, so I finally agreed to let them go. They came back three days later and said that I was right.
MODERATOR: You know Elisha [to Elijah] – oh, I’m sorry, I mean Elijah –
ELIJAH: Don’t worry. People often confuse us, since we worked together so much, and our names are so similar.
ELISHA: Let me tell you a little trick – we are in alphabetical order. See, ‘Elijah’ [point to nametag] is e-l-i-J and ‘Elisha’ [point to nametag] is e-l-i-S. And J comes before S and Elijah came before me and was my teacher.
MODERATOR: Thank you so much! Which leads to my next question. Elijah, you chose Elisha to come after you, isn’t that right?
ELIJAH: No, actually, that is not right. God chose Elisha to come after me. Remember, as a prophet, God speaks to me and speaks through me.
ELISHA: Yes, and the very same mantle that I am wearing today is part of that story, too!
MODERATOR: Really? How does the mantle come into a story about your being chosen, Elisha?
ELISHA: It all started one day when I was out in my field, plowing. I wasn’t doing all the work by myself though. My family owned lots of land and had lots of servants, so there were twelve of us out there that day with twelve teams of oxen. Elijah came to me in the field and threw his mantle around me. Remember, the hairy mantle is the garment of the prophets, as well as being an important piece of clothing.
ELIJAH: I put the mantle on his shoulders to show he would be my successor. The LORD told me to anoint Elisha to succeed me as prophet. [1 Kings 19:15-22]
ELISHA: You know, Elijah, before you came to the field that day, I had heard of what you had done, and you were my hero.
ELIJAH: It’s true, in those days we prophets of God were the heroes. Certainly not the kings. They were leading the Israelites further and further from the LORD. Oh, that Ahab! The things that king did .....
MODERATOR: Elijah, you did some amazing things in your day. Like the time that you taught King Ahab and his followers a lesson. That Baal whom they worshiped was not the true God.
ELIJAH: Well, amazing things happened, but remember, it wasn’t me. It was God. After three years of drought and famine, the LORD sent me to King Ahab. I told him to gather his prophets of Baal and Asherah and we would have a contest -- to see whose god would light a sacrificial altar first. Of course, their false god did nothing, but the LORD sent fire to burn my sacrifice to him. [1 Kings 18]
MODERATOR: So God helped you accomplish what God told you to do?
ELIJAH: Yes, God was with me. He even sent ravens one time to feed me during the drought and famine. [1 Kings 17:1-6]
MODERATOR: Elisha, you did some amazing things, too.
ELISHA: Oh yes, but again it was God doing them through me. And it was thanks to the double portion inheritance. I tried to help people who were in need. Like Elijah, I helped a widow who was in trouble. Through a miraculous multiplying of oil, she was saved from poverty and having to sell her children as slaves. [2 Kings 4: 1-7]
MODERATOR: And you both once restored children to life?
ELIJAH: Yes, God enabled me to help the widow of Zarephath who had been so kind to me. She had faith in me, and that led to faith in the LORD after her son was raised. [1 Kings 17:7-24]
ELISHA: And the LORD raised the Shunammite woman’s son in response to my prayers on her behalf. [2 Kings 4:8-37]
MODERATOR: And you completed Elijah’s mission. [1 Kings 19:15-16]
ELIJAH: You bet he did. I had not yet anointed Jehu as king over Israel.
ELISHA: I did have Jehu anointed. [2 Kings 9-10] The LORD used him to punish King Ahab’s family and he eliminated Baal worship. God made him king, but Jehu was not fully obedient in all things, even though he was better than some of the other kings.
MODERATOR: I suppose one of the most important requirements to being a prophet of God is to be obedient to God.
ELISHA: Yes. And I saw how Elijah had been obedient and had accomplished so much for the LORD. I had a great example to follow.
ELIJAH: Even though I often felt alone, I was not. God showed me that many, many times.
ELISHA: Oh yes, the wind and fire and earthquake that were empty, and then the still small voice was where the LORD was. I remember your telling me about that day!
MODERATOR: Elijah, one more thing. When Elisha saw you disappear that day, it was not the end of your story. You had another job to do.
ELIJAH: Oh yes. The prophet Malachi said that the LORD would send me before the day of the LORD comes. [Malachi 4:5] Moses and I had the privilege of meeting with the Messiah on a mountaintop. [Mark 9:2-9]
ELISHA: What an honor it was for you to represent all of the prophets at that divine affirmation of everything Jesus had done and was yet to do!
MODERATOR: Elijah, Elisha, thank you so very much for spending this time here with us today. [Question and answer session would be appropriate now, if time and interest permit.] We feel very blessed to have had this time with you, and we have a great deal to think about regarding what it means to pass the mantle – and to take up the mantle!
ELIJAH: It was our pleasure. We hope everyone here asks God to use him or her for God’s purposes, and looks for great examples to follow as they learn how to do this.
ELISHA: And all of you, feel free to call upon the LORD as we did if you need help doing what you were called to do. [James 5:17-18] God can help you be like Elijah and take a stand against great wrongs or be like me and show compassion for the daily needs of those around you.
Consider having Elijah and Elisha lead a game of "try and catch the mantle." Elijah throws it over his back to a group of students. Whoever catches it must say one or two quotes from the story you have written on the board, such as, "My father, my father, mighty defender of Israel!" or "Where is the God of my father Elijah?"