Up and Away in a Chariot of Fire…Elijah passes off the baton
After discussing Elijah’s life and miraculous adventures (through a series of lessons or just one or two), it’s plain to see what an amazing figure he was in God’s word. But he knew that he would not be around forever and eventually had to hand off his duties to someone else. In this lesson, we see him turn over the responsibility to Elisha and then take off to heaven, away to the sky without having to die. This Bible story would be a perfect lesson for Sunday School or a Family Discipleship setting.
Lesson focus: Everything comes to an end, but GOD is everlasting and faithful and will make sure we are always in good hands and leadership.
Passage: 2 Kings 2
Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th Grade (adaptable older or younger)
Materials Needed: Small paper plates or cardboard made to look like steering wheels, craft captions, string, decorative materials (markers, stickers, etc.).
Optional Coloring Sheet: The picture above is from our Elijah Coloring Pages.
Bible Lesson Opening:
Chariot race and off into the sky…take students outside for a couple of simple games. Start out with a “chariot race” where kids are working in teams of three. Two students are in the back holding one hand on the shoulder of the student in front. All three must gallop around the playing area to “race” their chariots. With older students, you may be able to hold a piggyback race or have them link arms underneath a third person to carry them around. Then, take a balloon or two (helium-filled) and let it go to watch it float into the air. Explain that today we are going to see someone who never had to die, but went straight to heaven! It was Elijah! (If you have already discussed Elijah, this can be the final follow up).
Elijah Chariot of Fire Bible Lesson:
Remind students of who Elijah was (especially if following up on previous introductory lesson). Discuss his conflict with the wicked king and queen and how God cared for him by the river. Review some of the significant events in Elijah’s life. He healed people, went up against the evil queen and king, and often had to run away only known or cared for by God. But God knew Elijah and knew that his heart was devoted to serving. At the end of his life, God told him how he could train a new person to take over His work and make sure the word of God continued to spread.
Have students help act out the story with puppets or just their bodies. Have someone portray Elijah, another act as Elisha, and perhaps a couple as “horses” and angel. Set up a blue cloth to serve as the river Jordan.
When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. The company of the prophets at Bethel came out to Elisha and asked, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?” “Yes, I know,” Elisha replied, “so be quiet.” Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here, Elisha; the Lord has sent me to Jericho.” And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went to Jericho. The company of the prophets at Jericho went up to Elisha and asked him, “Do you know that the Lord is going to take your master from you today?” “Yes, I know,” he replied, “so be quiet.” Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them walked on. -2 Kings 2:1-6
Have the Elijah and Elisha characters stand/walk together for a bit. Explain how Elijah told his successor what special duties and responsibilities he would have, and how hard it was going to be. Have Elijah hand Elisha a cloak and tell him to watch for the chariots to take him.
Fifty men from the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. 8 Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground. When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied. “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.” As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two. -2 Kings 2:7-12
Elisha begged to receive some of Elijah’s power, and he watched to see if he would get it. When he saw the chariot, he knew God would bestow power on him just as Elijah had had. At this point, lift the puppets into the air to indicate the heavenly departure, or maybe lift one of the students up off their feet (if small enough) to celebrate Elijah’s method of departure.
Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over.
Elisha is now going to take care of Elijah’s jobs. How does it feel to follow in someone’s footsteps? Is it hard and intimidating? How might Elisha have felt and dealt with things? We see right away that the Lord has indeed sent His spirit on Elisha just as it was with his predecessor:
The people of the city said to Elisha, “Look, our lord, this town is well situated, as you can see, but the water is bad and the land is unproductive.” “Bring me a new bowl,” he said, “and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him.Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, “This is what the Lord says: ‘I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.’” And the water has remained pure to this day, according to the word Elisha had spoken. -2 Kings 2:19-22
Have the children continue to act out these parts of the story, with or without puppets. The final chunk of it may be slightly gruesome for younger students, but is a fun image for older ones:
From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria. -2 Kings 2:23-25
Wheel of Faith Craft / Elijah and the Chariot of Fire
Wheel of faith…invite students to decorate a “steering wheel” decoration to hang in a car, in a room, or on a door. Provide each student with string, paper, and decorative materials, along with a caption that has the verse and “God is steering my chariot” (or similar cheesy comment).
Close with prayer and reminder of God’s work in our lives. Thank God for all of His amazing work and ask for patience and wisdom as we discern what His will is in our lives.
Don’t miss all our free lessons and activities about the Prophet Elijah.