Throughout church history each generation of believers expected the Lord to return in their generation. All the signs of the times looked just like the time when the Lord promised to return and so they watched and labored just as God called them to (Matthew 25:1-13). We too must look for the appearing of our Savior from heaven with a shout and the voice of the archangel. Either in our generation (we should pray that Christ would come today) or in a future generation, the Lord will return.
Then he set his countenance in a stare until he was ashamed; and the man of God wept. And Hazael said, “Why is my lord weeping?” He answered, “Because I know the evil that you will do to the children of Israel: Their strongholds you will set on fire, and their young men you will kill with the sword; and you will dash their children, and rip open their women with child.”So Hazael said, “But what is your servant—a dog, that he should do this gross thing?” And Elisha answered, “The Lord has shown me that you will become king over Syria.”
II Kings 8:11-13 NKJV
Much happens over twenty years! A generation is generally considered about twenty years. Between the end of World War 1 and the beginning of World War 2 twenty years elapsed. I started my first regular job twenty years ago. Twenty years later, twenty years does not seem to be so long a time but how much happens in twenty years – terrorist attacks, wars, tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, pandemics, regime changes, marriages, births, and deaths.
Twenty years prior to Elisha’s journey to Damascus, Elijah was on Mt. Sinai communing with the Lord about Israel’s sin. When the Lord spoke with Elijah he told him to anoint three people: Hazael king of Syria; Jehu King of Israel; and Elisha to be a prophet in Elijah’s place. During Elijah’s lifetime, only one of those tasks took place – Elijah left Mt. Sinai and anointed Elisha as a prophet. The instructions concerning Hazael and Jehu did not take place until well into Elisha’s ministry about twenty years later.
Elisha’s journey to Damascus was not the random wandering of an unwanted prophet but rather the carrying out of the mission and instruction the Lord had given to Elisha’s predecessor in the ministry many years prior.