Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Saturday, August 11, 2018

“He Took Up … the Mantle of Elijah”


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  Resource quotes have been highlighted in blue and are noted at the end of the blog.



As part of our growth in the gospel journey we have while here on earth, it is important to gain knowledge and understand certain procedures that the Lord has in running his kingdom.  The Lord is perfect in all that he does, and he has given us guidance and direction so that we can understand and perform on earth in a peaceful, organized state.  The church runs the same all over the world, and has since its restoration, but even before the restoration it did, and that is what carries on today.

One of the most important things that we need to understand and gain a testimony of is the living prophet on the earth today and the passing of the mantle of authority from one prophet to another.  As we understand this process our testimony strengthens and we can then more fully obey the words of the Lord and know, without doubting, that the power of God is greater than any other power.

The Mantle
As we continue the study of Kings from the Old Testament; we move to  2 Kings 2 where the passing of the mantle from Elijah to Elisha is a great lesson in teaching us first, the power of God in passing the mantle with an ease of transition, and second, that these men were and are truly called of God and he does infact reside with them.


When we speak of the mantle, in our day, we speak of it figuratively, for we know that the Lord's anointed are given the keys to lead but they are not physical keys that one can see and feel.  However in the days of Elijah, he actually wore a physical mantle that appeared to be a cloak made of cloth.  As we read in 2 Kings 2:1–18. Elijah prepares Elisha to become the new prophet. When the time comes Elijah physically passes the cloak or mantle to Elisha symbolizing the passing of prophetic authority.

 In modern times we sometimes speak of the “mantle” of authority that the prophet receives when he is ordained and set apart. Although the prophet today does not carry a cloak or piece of cloth, God bestows the keys of the priesthood on him. These keys give him the power to act in God’s name as the leader of the Church on the earth. When a prophet dies, this mantle of authority is given to the new prophet.

 Part 1: Elisha succeeds Elijah as the prophet 2 Kings 2:1–18

Beginning in 2 Kings 2:1–18. Elijah prepares Elisha to become the new prophet (2:1–10). Elijah is taken up into heaven. Elisha takes up Elijah’s mantle and becomes the prophet (2:11–15). Fifty men search for Elijah for three days despite Elisha’s counsel that they should not do so (2:16–18).

The names of Elijah and Elisha are similar to each other and point to Jesus Christ.  Elijah means “Jehovah is my God.” Elisha means either “God of salvation,” or “God shall save.”  But the lives of Elijah and Elisha started out very differently.  Elijah was a county boy who grew up in the hill country of Gilead.  Elisha lived in cities.  Elijah carried a fiery zeal and at times his miracles were dramatic manifestations of divine power.  Elisha was more of a gentle, kind, affectionate and merciful disposition and his miracles carried the same type of character.  

Elisha became the attendant and disciple of Elijah and eventually his successor as prophet and his actions sometimes looked like carbon copies of his mentor's.  As we have seen in the past, pairs of patriarchs or prophets sometimes show much in common with each other. Not only do they reinforce the principles taught by the other but together fulfill the ancient law of witnesses, especially when it comes to testifying of the Messiah and pointing to him. The lives and ministries of Elijah and Elisha are that way. These two powerful prophets in Israel resembled and paralleled each other as they also foreshadowed the life of Christ.

 What relationship existed between Elijah and Elisha?  2 Kings 2:2–10

2 And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Beth-el. And Elisha said unto him, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they went down to Beth-el.

3 And the sons of the prophets that were at Beth-el came forth to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he said, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.

4 And Elijah said unto him, Elisha, tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Jericho. And he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. So they came to Jericho.

5 And the sons of the prophets that were at Jericho came to Elisha, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy master from thy head to day? And he answered, Yea, I know it; hold ye your peace.

6 And Elijah said unto him, Tarry, I pray thee, here; for the Lord hath sent me to Jordan. And he said, As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And they two went on.

7 And fifty men of the sons of the prophets went, and stood to view afar off: and they two stood by Jordan.

8 And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground.

9 And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.

10 And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.

One Islamic tradition that contrasts with Christian and Jewish tradition concerns the fate of the child whom Elijah healed in Zarephath. Jewish and Christian lore believe the boy to be the prophet Jonah. Islamic tradition, however, states that the child was actually Elisha. If The child was Elisha it would help to explain the closeness of the relationship between the two. In my personal reading of these chapters, Elisha seemed to me as if he could have been the son of Elijah, to me they were close like father and son but with the mentoring of a prophet.  

Why do you think Elisha was so intent on staying with Elijah?  He revered his leader, he believed in Elijah, he knew that God was with him.  He also knew that the mantle would be passed to him and he wanted to gain all that he could from Elijah so that he could also lead valiantly. 

What did Elisha do after Elijah was taken up into heaven? 2 Kings 2:11–13
11 And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

12 And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces.

13 He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; 

Who has the mantle of the prophet today? The current President of the Church.

How is this mantle transferred when the prophet dies? President Joseph Fielding Smith explained:  “There is no mystery about the choosing of the successor to the President of the Church. The Lord settled this a long time ago, and the senior apostle automatically becomes the presiding officer of the Church, and he is so sustained by the Council of the Twelve which becomes the presiding body of the Church when there is no First Presidency. The president is not elected, but he has to be sustained both by his brethren of the Council and by the members of the Church” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 3:156) 

President Gordon B. Hinckley explained how this procedure was followed when he was ordained and set apart as the prophet and President of the Church following the death of President Howard W. Hunter: “With President Hunter’s passing, the First Presidency was dissolved. Brother Monson and I, who had served as his counselors, took our places in the Quorum of the Twelve, which became the presiding authority of the Church. “[A few days later] all of the living ordained Apostles gathered in a spirit of fasting and prayer in the upper room of the temple. Here we sang a sacred hymn and prayed together. We partook of the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, renewing in that sacred, symbolic testament our covenants and our relationship with Him who is our divine Redeemer. The Presidency was then reorganized, following a precedent well established through generations of the past [this precedent is explained in the preceding statement by President Joseph Fielding Smith]. There was no campaigning, no contest, no ambition for office. It was quiet, peaceful, simple, and sacred. It was done after the pattern which the Lord Himself had put in place” (Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 92; or Ensign, May 1995, 69) 

As he did anciently, the Savior has given the keys of the priesthood to each of the latter-day Apostles. However, only the President of the Church, who is the senior living Apostle, may use these keys (or authorize others to use them) on behalf of the entire Church  D&C 132:7

The Mantle Is Passed 
At this point in the history, Elijah has just been translated and the mantle passed.  John Taylor has provided the following observations concerning the translation of Elijah and the subsequent designation of Elisha as Elijah's successor:

Elisha, knowing that he had something to do and that he was about to be left alone, and that he might be the better prepared to perform the work before him, requested Elijah to let a double portion of his spirit rest upon him. But could Elijah grant his request? No, he could not. What answer did Elijah make him? He said, thou hast asked a hard thing; nevertheless, if thou seest me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not it shall not be so. How did Elijah know that? Because he knew that the Melchizedec Priesthood holds the keys of the mysteries and the revelations of God; and that if he could see him as he ascended, it would be an evidence to him that the Lord had granted his request, although he himself had not power to grant it, Elisha would then know that his prayer was heard. Those other prophets, who knew that Elijah was to be translated, went and stood to view the event afar off; I do not support that they saw anything of Elijah as he was being taken up into heaven. But he was taken up, and Elisha saw the manner in which he went, and cried out, "My father! my father! the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof." And how did he see them? God had conferred upon him that priesthood by which he was enabled to see them. Elijah threw down his mantle as he ascended, which Elisha took up and started off alone, his "head" having been translated. But he had received the answer to his prayer; and approaching the banks of the Jordan, with the mantle that had been left him he smote the waters saying, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" And when he did so they parted as they had done at the command of Elijah, and Elisha passed over. And God was with him, manifesting his power through him, as he had done through his predecessor. I speak of this as a certain principle and I speak of it now for the information of you elders, that they did not have then an organized Melchisedec Priesthood, but that if it was conferred upon individuals, they did not have the power to confer it upon others, unless through special command of the Lord. And Elijah knew that if Elisha could see him when he was ascending, that his prayer would be answered: Why? Because the Melchizedec Priesthood holds the keys of the mysteries and the revelations of God. (JD 21:248-49.)  (Quoted from Companion to Your Study of the Old Testament Daniel H Ludlow)

In 2 Kings 2:14–15 the waters of Jordan are parted by Elisha immediately following the translation of Elijah
14 And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the Lord God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.

15 And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.
  
How did the people respond when they saw Elisha duplicate Elijah’s miracle of parting the waters of Jordan?   They said that the spirit of Elijah rested upon him and they came and bowed themselves before Elisha. 


Why is it important that we immediately accept and sustain a newly ordained President of the Church?  D&C 43:2–3, 7
2 For behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye have received a commandment for a law unto my church, through him whom I have appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations from my hand.

3 And this ye shall know assuredly—that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he be taken, if he abide in me.

7 For verily I say unto you, that he that is ordained of me shall come in at the gate and be ordained as I have told you before, to teach those revelations which you have received and shall receive through him whom I have appointed.

Soon after Elijah had been taken into heaven, and even after seeing the great miracle performed by Elisha in the parting of the waters the people wanted to send 50 strong men to look for Elijah.  2 Kings 2:16

 16 And they said unto him, Behold now, there be with thy servants fifty strong men; let them go, we pray thee, and seek thy master: lest peradventure the Spirit of the Lord hath taken him up, and cast him upon some mountain, or into some valley. And he said, Ye shall not send.

Why do you think they wanted to search for him?  They wanted to find him because their faith was in Elijah and not his priesthood authority.

What did Elisha tell the people with their demand to search? 2 Kings 2:17
 17 And when they urged him till he was ashamed, he said, Send. They sent therefore fifty men; and they sought three days, but found him not.

What did Elisha say to the people when the 50 men came back without finding Elijah? 2 Kings 2:18
18 And when they came again to him, (for he tarried at Jericho,) he said unto them, Did I not say unto you, Go not?

What can we learn from the experience of the 50 men? We should follow the counsel of the prophet the first time we hear it.

Why do we sometimes wait for prophets to repeat counsel before we follow it? 

What counsel have Church leaders given us in recent years? 

How have you been blessed as you have followed this counsel?  Record your thoughts in your journal or gospel doctrine notebook!

Part 2: Elisha heals Naaman of leprosy 2 Kings 5

Moving to  2 Kings 5. Elisha heals Naaman of leprosy (5:1–14). Naaman praises God and offers Elisha a reward, which Elisha declines (5:15–19)

 

 Elisha’s miracles

Elisha performed many great miracles. Many features of Elisha’s ministry parallel those of the Savior’s. He truly was a type of the Messiah, showing compassion for the people while also giving further evidence that he was Elijah’s authorized successor. He parted the waters of Jordan, healed the waters of Jericho, multiplied a widow’s oil, raised a boy from the dead, healed people who had been poisoned, fed the hungry, healed Naaman’s leprosy, caused an ax to float, and guided kings in war. 2 Kings 2–6

 Do you think that miracles occur in our day to the same extent that they occurred in Elisha’s?

What are the dangers of looking only for the spectacular miracles? 

What seemingly small miracles occur in our lives?

Of Elisha's miracles; who was Naaman, and what was his affliction? 2 Kings 5:1  This is the account of a captive Israelite maid whose compassion and faith instigated an international incident and an act of God in the healing of a Syrian captain.  As well,  Naaman was a great warrior and appears to have been a very good man, for “by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria” from the Assyrians. He was captain of the entire army of the Syrians, but he was plagued with leprosy.

 1 Now Naaman, captain of the host of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honourable, because by him the Lord had given deliverance unto Syria: he was also a mighty man in valour, but he was a leper.

 Why did he go to Elisha? 2 Kings 5:2–9

2 And the Syrians had gone out by companies, and had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman’s wife.

3 And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.

4 And one went in, and told his lord, saying, Thus and thus said the maid that is of the land of Israel.

5 And the king of Syria said, Go to, go, and I will send a letter unto the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment.

6 And he brought the letter to the king of Israel, saying, Now when this letter is come unto thee, behold, I have therewith sent Naaman my servant to thee, that thou mayest recover him of his leprosy.

7 And it came to pass, when the king of Israel had read the letter, that he rent his clothes, and said, Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of his leprosy? wherefore consider, I pray you, and see how he seeketh a quarrel against me.

8 And it was so, when Elisha the man of God had heard that the king of Israel had rent his clothes, that he sent to the king, saying, Wherefore hast thou rent thy clothes? let him come now to me, and he shall know that there is a prophet in Israel.

9 So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha.
  
A young Israelite girl tells Naaman of Elisha 
How did Naaman learn about Elisha and his healing powers?  2 Kings 5:2–4. A young Israelite girl whom the Syrians had taken captive told Naaman’s wife that there was a prophet in Israel who could heal Naaman.

How is this young Israelite girl an example for us? Regardless of our age, circumstance, or Church calling, we can do much good by directing people to the prophets and to the Lord.
 
Learning from an Israelite girl in his household that there was a prophet in Samaria who could heal him, Naaman asked the king of Syria for a letter to introduce him to Jehoram, king of Israel. However, Jehoram’s response, “Am I God, to kill and to make alive?” (v. 7), shows that he immediately saw the difficult situation Naaman’s request put him in. Jehoram was saying, in essence, “Only God can perform such miracles.” If Jehoram sent him to Elisha and the prophet failed to heal him, the situation could cause a difficult rift between Israel and Syria. Perhaps, if Naaman were not healed, Jehoshaphat would grow angry and declare war on Jehoram.

When Elisha learned of the distress of the king of Israel, he sent for Naaman. Elisha tested Naaman’s faith by telling him to wash in the Jordan seven times. Though skeptical at first, Naaman complied because of the persuasion of his servants, and he was made whole.  (Old Testament Student manual)

 What did Elisha’s messenger tell Naaman to do to be healed?  2 Kings 5:10
 10 And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean.

 Why, at first, did Naaman refuse to follow Elisha’s instructions? 2 Kings 5:11–12 
 11 But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper.

12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.

How did Naaman’s servants convince him to do what Elisha had told him to do?  2 Kings 5:13
13 And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?

 What happened after Naaman dipped himself seven times in the Jordan River? 2 Kings 5:14
 14 Then went he down, and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

What can the story of Naaman teach us about following the counsel of the prophet, even when we may not like or understand it or when it may be about small and simple matters?

What are some of the small, simple things we have been asked to do by the prophet or other Church leaders? Why are these things sometimes hard to do?  

How can we increase our willingness to follow the counsel of Church leaders? 

Elder Rex D. Pinegar asked, “Are we not sometimes like Naaman, looking for big or important things to do and bypassing simple things which could change our lives and heal us of our afflictions?” (Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 106; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 80)

After recounting the story of Naaman, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley said: “The way of the gospel is a simple way. Some of the requirements may appear to you as elementary and unnecessary. Do not spurn them. Humble yourselves and walk in obedience. I promise that the results that follow will be marvelous to behold and satisfying to experience” (Conference Report, Oct. 1976, 143; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, 96)

What did Naaman learn from his healing? 2 Kings 5:15 
 15 And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant.

How has obedience in simple things strengthened your testimony?

What did Naaman try to give Elisha after being healed?  2 Kings 5:15 

Why do you think Elisha refused Naaman’s offer?
Elisha refused the gifts Naaman offered for his use of God’s power, but Gehazi did not. The temptation to use priesthood power for personal gain has plagued man throughout history (see for example the account of Balaam in Jude 1:11and the account of Nehor in Alma 1). Nephi called such employment priestcraft and said it is forbidden by the Lord (see 2 Nephi 26:29–31). Paul suggested that if one charged for his service in the priesthood, he would abuse his power in the gospel (see 1 Corinthians 9:18). And Jesus taught His ministering servants, “Freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). It is, after all, by divine power that men are able to perform priesthood miracles.

Elisha understood this truth perfectly, but Gehazi saw a chance for personal gain slipping away and let his greed overpower his good judgment.  (Old Testament Student Manual)
Why is it important to serve without concern for earthly rewards?

Part 3: Elisha guides Israel in a war with Syria 2 Kings 6:8–18

2 Kings 6:8–18 is when Elisha guides the king of Israel in a war with Syria (6:8–10). The king of Syria commands his men to capture Elisha, and the army surrounds the city of Dothan (6:11–14). Unafraid, Elisha prays, and the Lord reveals a mountain full of horses and chariots of fire, then smites the Syrian army with blindness (6:15–18)

This event was in the days of a Syrian king other than the one of the previous chapter 2 Kings 5  Here the prophet Elisha functioned as a spy, able to inform the king of Israel of the movements of the enemy. He was also able to avoid capture by the Syrian invaders.  As well, he was able to reassure his fearful servant by asking the Lord to let the servant see (spiritually) the superior defenses of the Lord. Then he led the enemy blindly right into the middle of Israelite headquarters in Samaria! And as if that were not enough, he recommended to the Israelite king that he feed the enemy and release them, overwhelming them with such kindness that these bands of Syria did not again go up against Israel. Attacks came from others, however 2 Kings 6:24

 How did Elisha help the king of Israel in the war against Syria? 2 Kings 6:8–1

8 Then the king of Syria warred against Israel, and took counsel with his servants, saying, In such and such a place shall be my camp.

9 And the man of God sent unto the king of Israel, saying, Beware that thou pass not such a place; for thither the Syrians are come down.

10 And the king of Israel sent to the place which the man of God told him and warned him of, and saved himself there, not once nor twice.

 Syria attacked Israel several times but was always defeated. When it finally came to the attention of the king of Syria that his soldiers were losing because of the prophetic power of Elisha, he sent a large army to destroy Elisha. The Syrian army located Elisha in Dotham (see v. 13) where they surrounded the city so he could not escape. The next morning Elisha’s servant, realizing the precarious situation they were in, said to his master, “How shall we do?” (v. 15.) Elisha asked the Lord to let his servant see that “they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (v. 16). Elisha’s servant was then allowed to see the Lord’s host that had been sent to protect them. (For other examples of the Lord’s host, see Joshua 5:13–15; History of the Church, 2:381–83.)  (Old Testament Student Manual)

 What did the king of Syria do when he learned what Elisha was doing?  2 Kings 6:11–14

11 Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was sore troubled for this thing; and he called his servants, and said unto them, Will ye not shew me which of us is for the king of Israel?

12 And one of his servants said, None, my lord, O king: but Elisha, the prophet that is in Israel, telleth the king of Israel the words that thou speakest in thy bedchamber.

13 And he said, Go and spy where he is, that I may send and fetch him. And it was told him, saying, Behold, he is in Dothan.

14 Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about.

 How did Elisha’s servant respond when he saw the Syrian horses and chariots surrounding the city?  

15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?

 How did Elisha respond? 2 Kings 6:16.
 16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.

What did Elisha mean when he told his servant, “They that be with us are more than they that be with them”?  

How have you seen that Elisha’s statement is still true today? 

What modern-day circumstances might lead some of us to believe that we are helpless against the evils of the world? 

How can the confidence that “they that be with us are more than they that be with them” help us as we battle against these evils?   Elder Dallin H. Oaks said: “When I read this wonderful story as a boy, I always identified with the young servant of Elisha. I thought, If I am ever surrounded by the forces of evil while I am in the Lord’s service, I hope the Lord will open my eyes and give me faith to understand that when we are in the work of the Lord, those who are with us are always more powerful than those who oppose us” (Conference Report, Oct. 1992, 54; or Ensign, Nov. 1992, 39) 

How can the confidence that “they that be with us are more than they that be with them” help us as we take the gospel to all people? D&C 84:87–88 

President Gordon B. Hinckley said: “We have not as yet carried the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. But we have made great strides. We have gone wherever we are permitted to go. God is at the helm, and doors will be opened by His power according to His divine will. Of that I am confident. Of that I am certain” (Conference Report, Oct. 1995, 93; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 70–71).

 What was Elisha’s prayer in his servant’s behalf? 2 Kings 6:17
 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Why, at first, didn’t the servant see the mountain full of horses and chariots of fire that God had sent?  

What can we do to open our eyes more fully to the power of God in our own lives and in the world?

Conclusion 
What caused the people of ancient Israel to reject Elisha in spite of marvelous demonstrations of his power?  Israel seems to have had great difficulty listening to and obeying the counsel of their prophets. They trusted in their own wisdom and rejected the counsel of the Lord.  Is it the same in our day?  Does modern Israel that we are, sometimes have trouble listening to and obeying their current prophet?  
 
President Spencer W. Kimball spoke of the importance of  prophets and of the flimsy reasons people have for rejecting them:  “Various excuses have been used over the centuries to dismiss these divine messengers. There has been denial because the prophet came from an obscure place. ‘Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?’ (John 1:46.) Jesus was also met with the question, ‘Is not this the carpenter’s son?’ (Matt. 13:55.) By one means or another, the swiftest method of rejection of the holy prophets has been to find a pretext, however false or absurd, to dismiss the man so that his message could also be dismissed. … Perhaps they judged Paul by the timbre of his voice or by his style of speech, not the truths uttered by him.  “We wonder how often hearers first rejected the prophets because they despised them, and finally despised the prophets even more because they had rejected them. …The trouble with rejection because of personal familiarity with the prophets is that the prophets are always somebody’s son or somebody’s neighbor. They are chosen from among the people, not transported from another planet, dramatic as that would be!

“The prophets have always been free from the evil of their times, free to be divine auditors who will still call fraud, fraud; embezzlement, embezzlement; and adultery, adultery.” (Conference Report, Apr. 1978, pp. 115–17; or Ensign, May 1978, pp. 76–77.)

The purpose for this lesson is to help us understand how the authority (mantle) passes from one prophet to another, and to obey the words of the prophets, as we do we gain testimony that the power of God is greater than any other power.  Every time people obeyed the counsel of the prophet Elisha they were blessed, and every time they rejected his counsel they suffered.  It is not the same for us.  

Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught that “the basic truths are always the same, but the emphasis needed will be made by the living prophets under inspiration from the living God, and the people of the living Church will respond. …“In the living Church, members must have living testimonies of the living prophets as well as of the living scriptures and living God... (Address to Seminary and Institute Faculty, Brigham Young University, July 8, 1968.)” (Things As They Really Are, pp. 67, 71.)

This is our lesson for today, that we may strengthen ourselves that we believe and follow, in this there is safety and peace.  

 Resources:

Prophets, Priests and Kings Andrew Skinner
Elijah Yesterday Today and Tomorrow Byron R Merrill 
Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie
Companion to Your Study of the Old Testament Daniel H Ludlow
Latter Day Commentary on the Old Testament Ellis T Rasmussen
Things as They Really Are Neal A Maxwell
Old Testament Student Manual
Journal of Discourses 
Conference Reports
Ensign
 

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