2 Kings 2:9-12 (NLT)
9 When they came to the other side, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I can do for you before I am taken away.” And Elisha replied, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit and become your successor.”
10 “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah replied. “If you see me when I am taken from you, then you will get your request. But if not, then you won’t.”
11 As they were walking along and talking, suddenly a chariot of fire appeared, drawn by horses of fire. It drove between the two men, separating them, and Elijah was carried by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 Elisha saw it and cried out, “My father! My father! I see the chariots and charioteers of Israel!” And as they disappeared from sight, Elisha tore his clothes in distress.
TIME OF DAY:
The fire from the horses, chariot & whirlwind of fire provides the warm yellow-orange lighting in this cartoon. The fiery colours are accentuated & contrasted with the cool blues & greens I have used in the rest of the illustration.
Elijah in the top left of the scene, standing atop the column of fire, which is bearing him up into heaven.
Elisha in the bottom right of the scene, pulling his own green cloak tight around himself.
A gazelle in the bottom right of the scene, cowering beneath a bush.
I’m very pleased with the way this scene came out! When the design came to my mind, I was immediately excited about it. There was very little deviation from the initial pencil sketch I drew of the scene to the finished layout. I merely changed the view of the chariot & horses, from a side view to a front view, which increases the sense of drama. I really enjoyed creating & colouring the horses of fire, they are spectacular! I was also very pleased with the whirlwind or column of fire that is carrying Elijah into heaven. The base of it is intensely white hot, whilst the flames cool through yellows & oranges to darker reds towards the top of the column. I was also pleased with the chariot’s trail of flames, curving around the column of fire. I think I have been positively influenced by the artist Josh Kirby’s illustrations of various scenes from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels! He often drew long ribbons of movement lines (whoosh lines!) flowing through his scenes to show the movement of key elements in his designs.
I’ve drawn Elisha huddled beneath his own cloak & looking amazed, awed & a little frightened. His facial expression gives us a human standpoint to relate too.
The horned animal sheltering under the bush in the bottom right corner of the cartoon illustration is a Dorcas gazelle (Gazella dorcas.)
According to the scriptures, Elijah wasn’t taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire, as many other artists have illustrated, but in a whirlwind. That’s why I have him standing atop a huge column of fire, inspired by fire tornado photographs I have seen on the internet.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary has an interesting conclusion about the chariot of fire…
‘Suddenly a fast-approaching chariot… and horses of fire… separated Elijah from Elisha. These did not bear Elijah into heaven; a whirlwind did that. The fiery horses and chariot were symbols of God’s power in battle. Horses and chariots were the mightiest means of warfare in that day. God was saying in this event that His power was far greater than any military might. It was this power that Elijah had demonstrated and which Elisha in his wisdom valued so highly (cf. Ex. 14:9, 17; 1 Kings 10:29; Ps. 104:3-4; Isa. 31:1). The whirlwind was actually a storm with lightning and thunder. Like the pillar of cloud that led the Israelites in the wilderness (Ex. 13:21), it represented God’s presence.
God swept Elijah off the face of the earth into His very presence. And Elisha did see the event. Elijah had been Elisha’s spiritual father, his predecessor in the ministry of calling people back to God. Elisha’s reference to the chariots and horsemen of Israel shows that he regarded Elijah as a powerful instrument whom God had used to wage war against the idolatry in Israel. He would be greatly missed. Elisha tore his own clothes as an act of mourning (cf. Gen. 37:29, 34; 44:13; Josh. 7:6; Es. 4:1; Job 1:20; 2:12) over the loss of this great spiritual warrior. From then on Elisha would wear Elijah’s cloak and would serve with the authority and power it symbolized.’
A note about Elijah
Elijah first appears in the Old Testament in 1 Kings chapter 17, giving a message to King Ahab. He was famously fed by ravens in this chapter. At the end of 1 Kings, Ahaziah, the son of Ahab is the king of Israel, & the books says that he did evil in the Lord’s sight, just as his father did before him.
The beginning of 2 Kings records Elijah going to deliver a last message to the injured king Ahaziah, before he is whisked away in chapter 2, in the mysterious chariot of fire to heaven, which is represented in the cartoon illustration above.
Interestingly Elijah appears in the New Testament as well, where he is seen talking with Moses to Jesus the Christ, on the mountain during Christ’s transfiguration (see Matthew 17:1-13, Mark 9:2-13 & Luke 9:28-36.)
Elijah is one of the characters from the Old Testament that I have drawn previously – see 1 Kings 18 – Elijah on Mount Carmel. That being the case, I already had his clothing colour scheme established for this scene.
I have shown Elijah’s cloak fallen to the ground, as verse 13 tells us, “Elisha picked up Elijah’s cloak, which had fallen when he was taken up.”
A note about Elisha
We first encounter Elisha in 1 Kings 19, where Elijah is commanded to anoint him as his successor. Elisha accepted this call to become a prophet, which was some 7-8 years before the scene above: where Elijah was parted from him and taken up into heaven. Interestingly, during all these preceding years we read nothing of Elisha’s exploits. After Elijah is taken into heaven, Elisha was accepted as the leader of the Hebrew prophets & many amazing miracles & signs & wonders are recorded in the rest of Elisha’s life. It seems that Elisha did indeed inherit “a double portion” of Elijah’s spirit (2 Kings 2:9); & held the office of “prophet in Israel” for about sixty years (892-832 B.C.)