Over the past several weeks I have been doing a Bible study on the life of the biblical character Elisha – and let me say this; if you haven’t read of his accounts in the first part of 2 Kings then do yourself a favor and read up on this guy, he will not disappoint. By the way, as you read up on Elisha, you will read about some pretty crazy stuff and I want you to know that I DO believe what the Bible says and that these stories are true.
Okay, on to today’s topic; over the weekend I read a passage in 2 Kings 2 that caught my attention so I wanted to do a little more studying on it and share it here.
2 Kings 2:13 (NLT)
Elisha picked up Elijah’s cloak, which had fallen when he was taken up. Then Elisha returned to the bank of the Jordan River.
Both Elisha and Elijah were prophets of God – men who would communicate the message of God to the people of God. These men not only communicate a message for God, they would also (at times) demonstrate the power of God. Both the spoken word and their actions would get people’s attention. So, Elijah trained and mentored Elisha on how to do the work of a prophet till one day God called (physically removed Elijah) up to heaven. As Elijah was caught up to heaven he left behind his cloak for Elisha; this is a significant event and it’s an event that we still value today. Its the identity and the association of the cloak. You see, the cloak for Elisha represented his connection to God as His prophet. The cloak gave him authority from God to deliver a reliable message for God to the people. The cloak was a symbol of Elisha’s connection to God.
So, how do we see this same symbolism today? With our modern-day military and sports uniforms and “Letterman jackets”. If you have ever been in the military or on a sports team you understand what I am about to talk about. The uniform is our identification to a larger institution that stands for integrity and excellence.
The uniform is about AUTHORITY. Not my authority, the authority of the organization, team/school, or nation that it represents. The cloak of Elisha represented the authority of God and the message he would deliver to the people. When I think of the cloak, or the jacket or the uniform in today’s setting it becomes sad to see so many INDIVIDUALS miss-representing the authority of the cloak (e.g. teammates that get into trouble off the field by violating team rules; military personnel taking matters into their own hands and not following through on orders; teammates that get into “bar fights” while wearing their team colors; military individuals who hurt innocent people when they carry out their personal agenda; etc.). A few years ago I heard of a high school soccer team that was headed to the state championship game, on the weekend before the game many of the seniors on the team were out at an underage drinking party. When the soccer coach found out about it he honored the uniform, honored the integrity/authority of the school that the uniform represents, and suspended the players. The team lost the game that year.
There is a responsibility to wearing the cloak, there is an honor that comes with wearing the cloak. And the fact is that we don’t have to be in the military or on a sports team to have a cloak – we all represent something! You represent the place you work, you represent the family you belong to and if you are a follower of Jesus Christ – you represent Him and His authority.
Lou Holtz, Notre Dame’s famous head coach had to make a tough decision with two of his players the day of a football game. Here is a clip from the November 27, 1988 issues of the New York Times about the decision:
”There’s no excuse for anybody being late now, because everyone got a Cotton Bowl watch. That’s why going to a bowl game was one of our goals: to make sure everybody would be on time.” – Lou Holtz
Tony Brooks and Ricky Watters were the two fastest players on the Notre Dame team. But even with their Cotton Bowl watches, they sometimes weren’t fast enough to get to meetings and practice on time. And in the hours before Notre Dame stunned Southern Cal, 27-10, yesterday, the two sophomores who suddenly had been suspended by Holtz for ”repeated, irresponsible tardiness,” were on a jetliner returning them to the South Bend, Ind., campus.
”They were late for a 6 o’clock dinner meeting Friday night at our hotel in Newport Beach,” said Roger Valdiserri, a Notre Dame associate athletic director. ”Forty minutes late. I think they said they were at a shopping center.”
Coach Holtz sent the players home before the game to send them and the rest of the team a message. Our actions represent something larger than ourselves. Remember that this week, You Represent Something Bigger Than Yourself – Act Like It.