In the Old Testament believers (and, unbelievers) would not “go up to heaven” at death, but would
“go down to Sheol.” This is seen in Genesis, Job, Psalms, etc. (Genesis 25:7-8; 42:38; 37:35; Job 7:9; 21:13; 5:26; 17:16; 1 Kings 2:10; Psalms 16:10; 139:2; 30:3; Isaiah 57:9; Acts 2:27 (Diagram HERE; Details HERE). Sheol, or “grave” as it is translated in English Bibles, was the realm of the dead in the underworld. The righteous would be released from Sheol upon Jesus' death and resurrection and would then enter heaven, the presence of the throne of God.
So, it is very interesting that Elijah is “going up.” The phrase that says Elijah was about to be taken “to heaven in a whirlwind” in 2:1 is literally “in the storm of the heavens.” This does not necessarily mean Elijah went into heaven where the throne of God is located, since Jesus says in John 3:13,
“No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven – the Son of Man.”
Elijah and Elisha pass through three cities, each with a local school and residence for the prophets (Gilgal, Bethel, Jericho, see map HERE) called the "company of the prophets" (literally "sons of the prophtets").
Elijah's, Elisha’s and their students' were opposed by Baal, or Hadad, the storm god who was the “rider/driver of the clouds.” Baal, or Hadad, was said to ride on his chariot of the clouds with fire and lightning. But, while all the prophets were watching the true Lord took his true prophet in a chariot of fire that descended out of the sky and ascended back into the sky. This was the very domain of Baal celebrated by Jezebel and her followers.
This would mean Elijah’s removal from the earth was a demonstration of the Lord’s authority (similar to fire coming from heaven on Mount Carmel from Elijah’s YHWH and the Baal of Jezebel and her false prophets). After this demonstration of power and dominion Elijah would have then gone the way of all the earth and entered Sheol, the underworld (called Paradise by Jesus on the cross and others in the days of the New Testament, or Abraham’s Side) to wait for the resurrection of Jesus.
Another key element of this historical account is that Elijah’s powerful and faithful ministry was to continue through the man Elisha. These were dark days of Israel and this supernatural confirmation strengthen and secured the prophets and the believers in the depths of a dark confused society.