(This is #12 and the final presentation for the series “Fashion Statements: Lessons from Garments in the Bible.”)
Today we will talk about superheroes’ fashion. If you are in to superheroes, like Superman, what do you think is the most impressive part of his costume. His boots? His leggings? Or his cape? Of course it’s his cape!
Superheroes, like Superman, Batman, Thor and Dr. Strange wear capes. It is the symbol of their power. Of course they are fictional characters. Kings and Emperors also wear capes, especially during their coronation. This cape garment that royalties wear is also called a mantle. This is a symbol of their authority.
In the Bible, many prophets wore a mantle. It is the symbol of their calling.
What is a mantle anyway?
The mantle was originally a cape-like garment, or a wide loose-fitting gown, worn simply to ward off the cold. The mantle was first mentioned in the Old Testament, as a garment worn by several prophets, like Elijah and Elisha. The prophet’s mantle is made of animal’s skin, likely a sheepskin.
The English word ‘mantle’ is translated from the Hebrew word Adderet, which just means a large outer-garment. Yes, like a cape or cloak. The root word where Adderet came from is Adar, which means glorious, marvelous, and mighty. So in a sense, it is a cape that symbolizes their might or strength. For prophets, it is a sign that they were called or chosen by God.
When Elijah was looking for his replacement, he found Elisha plowing a field. When he approached him, Elijah threw his mantle into Elisha’s back, as a sign that his ministry is being passed on to him.
As Elijah pondered on his last day on earth, he decided to visit the towns of Bethel and Jericho. He invited Elisha, to go along with him, and the two of them set off for what is a “teaching journey.” After visiting both towns, they arrived at the bank of the Jordan River. Elijah took off his mantle, rolled it and he struck the water with it. What happened next was a miracle. The waters parted, and the two men crossed over the river on dry ground (2 Kings 2).
When they reached the other side, Elijah turned to Elisha and said: “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” (verse 9). Without hesitation, the younger man answered, “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit.”
At first glance, Elijah appeared surprised by Elisha’s response. He said, “You have asked a difficult thing.” (verse 10). Then he continued, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours–otherwise not” (same verse). He was saying, “If you see me as the Lord is taking me away, your desire will be fulfilled. But if you miss the action, you’ll have to go home disappointed.”
As they walked along, suddenly a chariot of fire appeared out of heaven and separated the men. In a flash, Elijah was taken up in the chariot – and Elisha witnessed the whole scene. He cried out, ““My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!”. And he saw him no more (verse 12).
Elijah was gone – but his mantle had dropped to the ground. When Elisha saw it, he ripped off his own clothes, tore them into pieces and he put on Elijah’s mantle on his back. Then he returned to the Jordan River and he did just as Elijah had done: he took off the mantle and struck the water with it. Immediately the waters parted, and Elisha walked over on dry ground. That was the beginning of the young prophet’s own remarkable ministry.
The torch, or in this case, the mantle was passed on to him to continue the ministry. It is interesting that in the Bible there were twice as many miracles of Elisha recorded than that of Elijah. He asked for a double portion of the spirit, and he got it.
You, our young people, are the future of our church. You are the future of God’s ministry here on Earth. Are you ready to accept God’s calling? Are you ready to take on the mantle?
Post Note: That concludes this series. Have a blessed Easter!
(*photo form pinterest.com)