The Bible is full of fascinating stories about human relationships, including friendships. In fact, stories of friendships are demonstrated throughout the Old and New Testaments. God wants us to have relationships — not just of the marital and familial kind, but deep and abiding friendships as well. True friendship provides us with support, love and enjoyment and is nothing short of a gift from God.
The story of Elijah and Elisha may be one of the most fascinating friendships in the Bible. Elijah and Elisha illustrate the way in which a holy friendship helps us draw close to God.
One day, the prophet Elijah spotted the young man Elisha plowing the field on his parents’ farm, and Elijah literally threw his prophet cloak over him. Elisha immediately knew that God had His hand in their chance meeting. Even though they were strangers, Elisha felt the call to follow Elijah.
It’s unknown how long the pair remained friends, but it was long enough for the younger prophet Elisha to carry on the spiritual legacy passed onto him by his friend. As we learn, God is about to call Elijah up into heaven — who is the only person in the whole Bible who ascends to heaven without dying first.
In 2 Kings 2:2, we are told that Elijah wanted to ascend alone. “And Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Stay here, for the Lord has told me to go to Bethel.’ But Elisha replied, ‘As surely as the Lord lives and you yourself live, I will never leave you!’ So they went down together to Bethel.”
Once they arrived, Elisha watched his friend in a great whirlwind, with chariot and horses of fire, rise into heaven. Elisha was the only witness, and not even an influential person — he was just a young man who followed God’s calling.
Throughout the course of his life, Elijah had made several powerful enemies who doubted him as a true prophet of God. When God vindicated his prophet by bringing him to heaven without dying, his holy friend Elisha was privileged to be present so he could tell of God’s mighty power and blessing for Elijah.
Friends are faithful to one another, and Elisha shows that by not letting Elijah go to Bethel alone. Holy friendships help us draw closer to God. We need holy friends every day — friends that will be there for us as Christ is for his believers.