The Double Portion
“ . . . and the Lord gave him twice as much as he had before.” It is easy to pass over the significance of that statement if it is left all by itself. In the Law given to Israel, you discover that the “double portion” was the inheritance of the eldest son. The father was to acknowledge the firstborn “by giving him a double share of everything he has, because that son is the first sign of his father’s strength; the right of the firstborn belongs to him.”
Later in II Kings 2:9 and 10 we learn that Elijah asked Elisha what he should do for him before he was taken away. Elisha replied, “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit.” The Revised Standard Version margin says that he asked for the portion of the first-born!
Elijah’s reply was a strange one! He said that Elisha had asked a “hard thing,” but if he saw him as he was caught away that his request would be fulfilled. As you may remember, Elisha did indeed see him taken away in a chariot of fire, and it says that Elisha “took hold of his clothes and tore them in two” (II Kings 2:12) and took up the mantle that had fallen off Elijah as he was taken into Glory. The mantle, of course, represented the gift of the Holy Spirit that was given to the disciples at Jerusalem (see Acts 2:33).
But why did Elijah say that Elisha’s request was a “hard thing,” when the portion of the first-born was the right of the oldest son?
The “double portion” or the fullness of the Holy Spirit is a birthright for anyone born of God, but it is a hard thing to your flesh because you have to be truly broken enough to receive it. I want you to imagine yourself as Elisha. In order to receive this “double portion,” he had to witness Elijah being “caught away,” right? Now even Elijah did not know when that would happen, so Elisha must have been watching Elijah every second of every day! He never let his eyes wander from Elijah. He probably watched Elijah wake up every morning and eat every meal. Can you imagine how taxing that would have been on Elisha? But also very rewarding! He saw how Elijah behaved in each situation he faced; he witnessed every “high,” and every “low.” He would soon be able to imitate Elijah’s every action and trait.
If you apply this to our relationship with Jesus, I think we can see a very direct comparison. If you are going to meet with Him once or twice a week, or even worse, when you feel “up to it,” do not expect much in return.
We are told that when Elijah was finally “caught away,” Elisha took hold of his clothes and tore them in half! In one sense, this action was in keeping with the Jewish custom of rending one’s clothing in grief when news of a death arrives. In another sense, this outward action by Elisha represents the way in which we need to be broken, in fact, what what we are to do, to separate ourselves from sin. We are to “tear off that sin,” before we can experience the full reality of the double portion in our own lives.
Job’s path to the double portion was certainly a hard thing. It had cost him many tears and struggles. Also, his tenacity of faith in God had been a hard thing. In Hebrews, we are told that it is through “faith and patience that we inherit the promises.” It is hard when you are standing “against all hope, to believe in hope.” Especially as in Job’s case when he was stripped of everything that once gave him authority and power. On top of that, he was expected to take the place of intercession with God for the others while he was still outwardly suffering.
Job had known the power of the Spirit in his life, which was evident in his service. However, through his time of testing and trial, he was led from faith to faith. Also during this trial, his heart was deepened and prepared to receive “twice as much as he had before.” This was a foreshadowing of our resurrection life in union with the Risen Lord.
Elisha’s hard thing was his fixed vision on Elijah, followed by the tearing of his clothes and receiving the falling mantle of the prophet. Think of it. Elijah told him that if he saw him as he was caught away then his request would be fulfilled. In the requirement was seeing Elijah taken up, by necessity, he had to be with, study, watch every movement Elijah made day-in and day-out. He could never leave the guy!
Jesus’ hard thing was his obedience in everything including His death on the cross, which was followed by receiving the Anointing Spirit and His place on the Father’s throne.
In my own life, I am no longer in a place of leadership or full-time ministry. I had to be removed from all places of honor and respect before I would ever see that responsibility again. It was not until I was finally able to say in all sincerity and honesty that it did not matter to me any more, that I was even allowed to teach these things. Honest! I never realized how important that place of leadership was to me, until I was removed from it. It has been over 27 years since I was in the place of leadership. It was not until recently that I had the opportunity to share any of these studies; before I was able to teach anything. The importance of that role had to be purged from my heart, and despite the fact that my greatest joy is teaching and sharing what is on my heart, I am no longer controlled and possessed with the “need” to be in that role.
I pray that you can find the same liberty and freedom of spirit (before you face your time of “purging.”
If you are interested, you can download the whole study of Job.
Other Bible Studies and Commentary are available at <a href=”http://home.comcast.net/~nickolas.hiemstra/”Doulos Studies.