Summary: A sermon dealing with the call and consecration of Elisha.

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"Burning Bridges"

1 Kings 19:19-21

1 Kings 19:19 So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him.

20 And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee?

21 And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.

Introduction: I've selected a title this morning that can be viewed to two ways. Over the years I've had the opportunity to advise folks on a number of decisions involving relationships and job changes and one of the pieces of advice that I having given them is don't burn any bridges because you may want to retrace your steps! On the other hand there are times when we do need to "burn some bridges," especially when the work of the Kingdom is concerned. Let's look at the ministry of Elisha and see if he burned any bridges.


a. Elijah's retirement

In chapter 19 we read about the retirement of Elijah from the prophetic office. After the triumph on Mt. Carmel where the prophet called down fire from heaven and the slaying of the 400 prophets of Baal, Elijah receives a death threat from Jezebel and "runs for cover" so to speak and asks God to be relieved of his office. Later in 2 Kings 2:11 we read of the catching up of the prophet into heaven.

"And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven."

b. Elijah's replacement

God honors Elijah's request to be "relieved of duty" and in verse 16 we read about Elijah's replacement:

1 Kings 19:16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.

Who is this man called Elisha? He was from the tribe of Issachar and his name means "Jehovah my Savior!" He and Elijah could not have been any different but they became close friends and co-laborers. Lockyer writes about the contrasts in these men:

Elijah was a prophet of the wilderness

Elisha was a prince of the court

Elijah had no settled home

Elisha enjoyed the peace of a home

Elijah was known for his long hair and mantle

Elisha by his staff and bald head

Elijah was mainly prophetical

Elisha's work was mainly miraculous

Elijah was a rebuke of kings

Elisha was a friend and admirer

Elijah was a messenger of vengeance

Elisha was a messenger of mercy

Elijah was fierce, fiery, energetic;

Elisha was gentle, sympathetic, simple.

Elijah was a solitary figure

Elisha was more social

Elijah had an extraordinary departure

Elisha's death was ordinary.

ILL - It is observable that God has often called men to places of dignity and honor when they have busy and honest employment of their vocation. Saul was seeking his father's donkeys and David his father's sheep when called to the Kingdom. The shepherds were feeding their flocks when they had their glorious revelation. God called the 4 apostles from their fishing and Matthew from collecting taxes. Amos from the horsemen of Tecoah; Moses from keeping Jethro's sheep; Gideon from the threshing floor; Elisha from the plows. God never called a lazy man. God never encourages idleness and will not despise persons in the lowest employment.

D.L. Moody


a. Elisha's surrender

There are two things that come to mind when we think of Elisha's yielding to the call to the prophetic office. First, he said yes to God and no to his possessions. Notice that he is ploughing "...with twelve yoke of oxen..." when he is called. This would indicate that he was a man of some means. With 2 oxen per yoke times 12 you have 24 oxen, 12 plows and 11 additional men ploughing with him. The fact that he was leading this group of workers would also indicate that he was the first born son and therefore the heir to a substantial fortune. Question: What are you giving up for God my friend? Is what you give to God a sacrifice or what you feel that you can spare? Recently a friend posted the following on a social web page:

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