Bethel, the Place of Prayer, and Jericho, the Place of Battle

There he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord.
–Genesis 12:8

In 2 Kings 2, Elijah knew his time of departure had come, so he took his protégé Elisha to significant places where Elijah had learned some important lessons. After going to Gilgal, Elijah then took Elisha to Bethel. This was a place of prayer. In 2 Kings 2:2, “Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Stay here please, for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.’ But Elisha said, ‘As the Lord lives and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So they went down to Bethel.” Bethel was the place where Abraham built an altar after God promised to make him a great nation (Genesis 12:8). I’m sure as Elijah and Elisha walked the streets of Bethel, they thought about not only Abraham’s experience, but I believe Elijah probably told Elisha about the places where Elijah had poured out his heart to God. I’m sure there was a Bethel at the brook where Elijah prayed for God to send the ravens with food. I’m sure he thought about the widow’s house at Zarephath. He probably thought about the memorial at Mount Carmel, where he prayed for the fire to consume the sacrifice and for the rain to come. I think Elijah talked about significant places where he talked to God as he prepared Elisha for his departure.

As I look at my own past, I think about different locations that have been significant for me in talking to God. When I was in high school, there was a park across from my school, and I would go there every morning before class to read my green Living Bible and pray. Later my Bethel changed. It was a baseball field by Amy’s and my first house, and I would walk there in the mornings. And now my Bethel is my couch in my office. Do you have places you can look back and recall pouring out your heart to God? Part of our legacy is pointing out our places of prayer.

The third place Elijah wanted to go was Jericho, which represented the place of battle. In 2 Kings 2:4, “Elijah said to him, ‘Elisha, please stay here, for the Lord has sent me to Jericho.’ But he said, ‘As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.’ So they came to Jericho.” Jericho was a Canaanite city with formidable walls that were a barrier to inheriting the promised land. Joshua and his men marched around those walls until they finally came down. I think Elijah also talked to Elisha about the battles he had faced in his life. I’m sure he talked about the verbal fencing he engaged in at the palace at Samaria as he pronounced judgment on King Ahab. He probably thought about the battle for the gods on Mount Carmel. Maybe he told Elisha about personal battles he dealt with, battles with depression when he crawled under that juniper tree and prayed for God to take his life. He may have told him about the time he hid in a cave at Mount Horeb, running away from God’s calling on his life. Part of the legacy you and I leave behind is to tell our loved ones some things we’ve struggled with. Maybe you struggle with controlling your anger, maybe you’ve battled addictions, maybe you’ve questioned the relevance of God in your life. Part of the legacy you leave behind is honesty about those battles and how you overcame them with God’s help. I think that’s what Elijah did at Jericho, the place of battle.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Secret #7: Living with the End in Mind” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2017.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

 

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