As [Elijah and Elisha] 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.
2 Kings 2:11
Death and taxes—these are two certainties of life for everyone—everyone except for the prophet Elijah. God granted him the privilege of escaping physical death. God took him directly into heaven. The question that begs to be asked is ‘Why?’
As we read through the life of Elijah, we see that he was a prophet of God. But that wasn’t the reason he escaped death. God had called others to be prophets, and they faced death. Elijah fought against idolatry, but so did others, and they died. Elijah proclaimed the Word of God as countless others have done throughout the ages. It was not his office, courage, or faithfulness that earned him the right to escape death and go straight to heaven. It was only by the grace of God that Elijah was taken to heaven without facing death.
We cannot escape death on our own. The grave awaits us as the Bible teaches, “Man is destined to die” (Hebrews 9:27). We have no power to escape the death that we deserve for our sins. This is death that separates us from God forever under his judgment. But God gives us an escape from the death that we face as sinners. He sent his Son, Jesus, and heaped the guilt of our sin on him, making him pay the penalty of eternal death that should have been ours.
Just as God revealed his grace to Elijah by sparing him from physical death, so God reveals his grace to us through Jesus. In Jesus, we are raised to a new life of faith. The death we will face at the end of our lives loses its sting because, in Jesus, we will be raised from the dead and taken to live forever in heaven with Elijah and all believers of all time.
Heavenly Father, I give you thanks for releasing me from the power of death. Keep me steadfast in your word until I see you in your glory in heaven. Amen.