Join us with McKay Christensen, who has served as Managing Director of External Relations at BYU and management strategy instructor at the BYU Marriott School of Business, as we explore the mantle being passed from Elijah to Elisha. What do we mean by a mantle in the Church? Are mantles for more than prophets and missionaries?

Notes from Podcast with special guest McKay Christensen

McKay Christensen:

McKay Christensen In his professional career McKay has served as Managing Director of External Relations at BYU, management strategy instructor at the BYU Marriott School of Business, President of a large global consumer products company, and leadership roles with Fortune 500 companies. McKay has also served as an adjunct professor at Xavier University and Idaho State University. McKay has an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in Education.

2 Kings 2

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.

¶ 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.

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;

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.

Elijah and Moses are both translated to bring keys. A translated being is of the terrestrial order, the same condition the earth will enjoy during the Millenium.

How did the people respond when they saw Elisha duplicate Elijah’s miracle of parting the waters of Jordan? (See 2 Kings 2:14–15.) Why is it important that we immediately accept and sustain a newly ordained President of the Church? (See D&C 43:2–3, 7.)

What do we mean by a mantle in the Church?

The mantle, then, symbolizes an investiture of the right to succeed a former prophet. The biblical account of Elijah throwing his own hair-shirt mantle upon his successor, Elisha, beautifully symbolizes this transference of authority. (See 1 Kgs. 19:192 Kgs. 2:7–15.) Elisha succeeded Elijah. The mantle is prophetic authority.

“In our own dispensation when the Lord took the Prophet Joseph Smith from this life, the mantle of leadership fell upon Brigham Young. Documents of Church history are replete with examples of the divine confirmation of this fact. And after Brigham Young passed away, John Taylor wore the mantle—and so on in turn with each president. The established orderly pattern of succession dictates that the Lord has conferred the keys of presidency upon each apostle who is set apart as a member of the Council of the Twelve; and that when a quorum of First Presidency is dissolved (which occurs at the moment of the death of a president of the Church), the entire leadership of the Church and kingdom devolves upon the Council of the Twelve—their senior member presiding. In a general sense, every member of the Council of the Twelve has received the mantle already—the mantle of authority, light, revelation, direction, and the keys of presidency. However, in a specific sense the man who has seniority in that council receives the mantle at the death of the president of the Church, and he alone becomes the mouthpiece for the entire Church. He succeeds the prophet before him. Therefore, at the moment when President Harold B. Lee passed away, President Spencer W. Kimball stepped forth to preside over the Council of the Twelve and, therefore, over the entire Church.

“President Kimball was at that moment the senior apostle of God on earth. And as the last heartbeat of President Lee ceased, the mantle of leadership passed to President Kimball, whose next heartbeat was that of the living oracle and presiding authority of God on earth. From that moment the Church continued under the direction of President Kimball.” (Bruce R. McConkie, “Succession in Presidency,” Church News, Mar. 23, 1974, p. 7.)

“The mantle is far, far greater than the intellect; the priesthood is the guiding power.”

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” (in 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 (see D&C 132:7)”.

How did the people respond when they saw Elisha duplicate Elijah’s miracle of parting the waters of Jordan? (See 2 Kings 2:14–15.) Why is it important that we immediately accept and sustain a newly ordained President of the Church? (See D&C 43:2–3, 7.)

We also speak of a mantle falling upon someone for other callings.  RS president, EQ president.

What does it mean to trust in the mantle you’ve been given?

Elisha heals the waters. Uses salt, which is unusual because the water was brackish, right close to the Dead Sea.

Children from Bethel

23 ¶ And he went up from thence unto Beth-el: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth alittle children out of the city, and bmocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou cbald head; go up, thou bald head.

Comment: The youths of Bethel.  President Packer said a key word to remember in the vision of the tree of life is “after.”  Some, after having partaken of the fruit, gave heed to those who were mocking and pointing, then fell away.  Elder packer said to us, “you are in it” meaning we live in the tree of live vision. Prophets, bishops and others may be “bald” or unpopular—what will we do?

Why is being mocked so powerful and hard to bear? How does the adversary use it to fight the prophets? Are there other examples in scriptures? Korihor mentions the “foolish traditions of your fathers” Because I do not teach the foolish traditions of your fathers, and because I do not teach this people to bind themselves down under the foolish ordinances and performances which are laid down by ancient priests, to usurp power and authority over them, to keep them in ignorance.” (Alma 30:23)

2 Kings 4

A series of stories about Elisha’s kindness and protection for the vulnerable.

  1. A woman’s husband has died and the creditor is coming to take her sons away as bondsmen. All she had was a pot of oil, so Elisha had her borrow vessels from all of her neighbors “not a few”. The oil was multipied in them, much like the widow of Zarapheth with Elijah. She sold the oil and was able to pay her creditor.
  2. A woman of Shumen, “Perceived that this is a holy man of God” who came by their home and area regularly. She sought to provide for him with a place to sleep. Elisha asked:

13 And he said unto him, Say now unto her, Behold, thou hast been careful for us with all this care; what is to be done for thee? wouldest thou be spoken for to the king, or to the captain of the host? And she answered, I dwell among mine own people.

14 And he said, What then is to be done for her? And Gehazi answered, Verily she hath no child, and her husband is old.

Elisha said that about this time next year, she would have a child. But when the child was grown, he became sick and cried out, “My head, my head.” When she had set him on his own bed, she rode on an ass to find the man of God, Elisha

31 And Gehazi passed on before them, and laid the staff upon the face of the child; but there was neither voice, nor hearing. Wherefore he went again to meet him, and told him, saying, The child is not awaked.

32 And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed.

33 He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the Lord.

34 And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm.

35 Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.

The symbolism of “making a room” for the prophet is particularly applicable to our living house. How do you “invite” the words of the prophet into your life?  How do you construct your life and mindset around the word?  

  • Elisha was brought twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk.

And he said, Give unto the people, that they may eat.

43 And his servitor said, What, should I set this before an hundred men? He said again, Give the people, that they may eat: for thus saith the Lord, They shall eat, and shall leave thereof.

44 So he set it before them, and they did eat, and left thereof, according to the word of the Lord.

Elisha’s miracles are much like Elijah’s, which are in the similitude of Christ.

Questions: Protection in our day.  What type of protection do we need?  Where do we find it? Do we tend to look for it in the wrong way? What is safe? What do we need to be protected from?

2 Kings 5

Naman a mighty man of valor, captain of the host of Samaria.

The maid who waited on his wife was of Israel and she said:

Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.

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

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.

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.

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.

What is leprosy?

Elisha sends a messenger to Naman:

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

16 But he said, As the Lord liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused.

Gehazi takes the reward.

Why are small and simple things hard to do? Do we sometimes act as Naman? What small things are we asked to do that we sometimes ignore?

Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.

1 Kings 6

Syria warred against Israel and Elisha sent word to the king of Israel where their camp would be and saved themselves “not once nor twice.”

The king of Syria thought that a spy must be among them, but 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. (v. 12).

Comment: we also see in the Book of Mormon, how the prophets can sometimes read the very thoughts of others.

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.

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?

16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.

17 And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his aeyes, 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 bchariots of fire round about Elisha.

18 And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the Lord, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with ablindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.

How you turn an enemy into a friend:

22 And he answered, Thou shalt not smite them: wouldest thou asmite those whom thou hast taken captive with thy sword and with thy bow? set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master.

23 And he prepared great provision for them: and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. So the bands of Syria came no more into the land of Israel.

Comment: Parents and prophets often see what we do not.