The assumption of Elijah was a glorious spectacle. After several preceding miraculous signs, “suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” The Tishbite’s servant and successor was a witness to these divine pyrotechnics. He cried out, tearing his clothes then going on to assume his master’s mantle.
It stands to reason that the inspired account known to English Bible students as Second Kings chapter two faithfully records Elisha’s eyewitness testimony about God’s almost unique dealing with Elijah.
Why only almost unique? Consider Enoch. This prophet of the antediluvian age (Jude 14) “walked with God and was not, for God took him.” Was that assumption done in a corner, sans fiery chariot and horses? Or was it accompanied by signs seen by at least one witness, perhaps one like the man who per 2 Kings 3:11 “…poured water on the hands of Elijah,” and who went on to wear effectively for God Elijah’s mantle which he had taken up?
Would the God Who once walked in the primeval garden He Himself planted suddenly frighten His humble walking companion, the godly descendant of Eden’s pair? Were there preceding declarations to Enoch of the divine intent? Did bright angels announce to the patriarch what was about to become of him, comforting Enoch with joyful admonitions against fear, as they did much later in the case of the awed shepherds of Bethlehem?
We do not know. “Our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases,” Psalm 115:3. Yet we have an even more ancient, equally faithful and inspired record of Enoch’s assumption in Genesis chapter five. We have a brief, inspired exposition of it in Hebrews chapter eleven. And we know that Enoch and Elijah walked with the same forebearing and gracious Lord.
Whether we review the cases of these two who went to Heaven without an encounter with the grim reaper, or the cases of the many who enter glory by the ordinary portal, that victorious and mighty Lord has “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” Swing low, sweet chariot!