On his way to becoming the prophet of a generation, Elisha spent time with his spiritual father. His maturation did not come over night, but through eleven years of learning by serving Elijah. They dwelled together; traveling, eating, worshipping, and serving together much like Jesus and His disciples did for three years before the crucifixion. During this time they grew close together becoming family. Likewise, developing a meaningful relationship requires ongoing interaction, the Bible describes this as “dwelling together.” The word dwell is the Hebrew word yashab. It means to remain, abide, inhabit, and even to marry. Therefore, yashab means more than casual acquaintance rather it infers permanence and longevity.
Many men, especially young men, have difficulty laying down roots. I was a wanderer before I was married, and well into my marriage. Spiritually I wandered from church to church even from faith to faith. Physically, I could not stay in the same apartment for more than a year, and economically I did not work the same job for more than a year. I was not alone. Most of my friends were in the same boat. This type of lifestyle frustrates the sincere desire for close relationships.We must learn to dwell together rooting ourselves in the lives of our brothers and fathers because we need the anointing which comes with unity.
Regarding dwelling together, King David writes “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments.” (Ps 133:1-2) One of the promises of intimacy is anointing.
The word anointing literally means to smear illustrating God’s presence in a man’s life. Priest were drenched with oil during a consecration ceremony signifying that they were set apart and empowered for holy work. David was referring to Moses’ brother Aaron, who was anointed to be the holy priest for Israel. The Lord told Moses to anoint Aaron to be a holy priest. (Ex 28:41) Aaron was smeared with anointing oil by his brother Moses signifying his priesthood. The oil, according to David, flowed from his head down to the edge of his garments. Wherever he journeyed the sweet fragrance of the anointing oil lingered on him like liquid incense well after the consecration ceremony.
Anointing is funneled to us through our relationships. Elisha was anointed to succeed Elijah as prophet the moment Elijah covered him with his mantle. Though he was anointed, set apart to be a prophet, Elisha was not ready to take the position. Elisha had to be empowered and equipped to take up his father’s mantle. The relationship between him and Elijah was the pipeline to receiving the anointing that he would need to carry out great things for God.
One evening I was driving when the soft orange glow of the check oil light came on. I pulled into an auto parts store on my way home to buy a bottle of motor oil. I went back to my car, popped the hood and unscrewed the cap to the oil reservoir. As I poured, the speed at which the oil came out caught me off guard and oil glugged out of the bottle spilling on the engine block and my hands. After the bottle was empty, I threw away the container, wiped off my hands with a slightly used napkin that I had in the car from my last fast food stop, closed the hood and started the car. As I was driving black smoke began to billow from under my hood. At a stop light another car pulled up beside me and politely informed me, “Your car is smoking” which I replied, “Thanks, I tried to put it on the patch but it never works!” She didn’t get my bad joke referring to nicotine patches. Turns out the oil I spilled created a thick black cloud of smoke as it burned off of the engine. If I used a funnel instead of relying on my underdeveloped oil pouring skills, I would not have spilled any of the oil and all of it would have reached the place where it needed to be instead of wasting and subjecting people to bad jokes. Our relationships with spiritual fathers funnel the oil of God’s power from one vessel to another.
We need the power of God to walk through this life. We cannot begin to represent Him on earth without His presence. Relationship is the conduit for presence; as Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matt 18:20) This is why the writer of Hebrews urged the church not to forsake the assembling of ourselves. If we avoid close relationships we will never experience the blessings brought through unity. More specifically, the relationship between family is the pipeline to receiving God’s anointing and power. The pipeline has been broken with the brokenness of our homes, but God has restored that by giving us the opportunity to be a part of His spiritual family. The only question is, are willing to accept the invitation?