Summary: Let's talk about Elijah, Elisha and Jesus in regards to relationships and leadership
During a lecture on mental health someone once asked the famous Dr. Carl Menninger: "What would you advise a person to do if that person felt a nervous breakdown coming on?" Most people at the conference thought he would say, "Go see a psychiatrist immediately," but he didn’t. Much to everyone’s astonishment, Dr. Menninger replied, "Lock up your house, go across the railroad tracks, find somebody in need, and help that person." To overcome discouragement he said: "Don’t focus on yourself, get involved in the lives of other people."
Thesis: Let’s talk about Elijah, Elisha and Jesus in regards to relationships and leadership
Go to 1 Kings 17. The nation of Israel has split into two kingdoms. Things in the south seem to go from revival back into apostasy, back again into revival. In the north things just keep getting worse until we come to the worst of the worst and that is King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. In the midst of this depravity and Baal worship comes Elijah the Tishbite, read 1 Kings 17:1. We have no information on how Elijah got his calling and power, his background, nothing. He just shows up on the scene and pronounces judgment through a drought. The king and queen want to get rid of this prophet so we find in vs. 2-5. Elijah is alone in the Ravine.
The drought gets worse and we find this in vs. 6-8. Elijah stayed with this widow and her family (probably only one son). Many miracles to bless the widow but also to keep Elijah hidden from Ahab and Jezebel. This widow was probably a Gentile and Elijah was not there to pass on leadership but to be hidden. We find this in chapter 18:10 when Elijah presents himself to Obadiah to take him into the presence of King Ahab.
When Elijah comes before Ahab Elijah proposes a contest between the prophets of Baal and himself. Ahab agrees and so on Mt. Carmel is the great contest. Elijah is the lone prophet of the Lord against 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah. We find the outcome of this in 18:38-40. This is a great day of victory for the one true God and his prophet Elijah.
Rain comes upon the land and Ahab goes home and tells Jezebel what Elijah had done. Here is her reaction in 19:2. Big deal, Elijah has just won a great contest and the false prophets are all dead. The Lord could strike this woman dead. Seems like a ridiculous threat. However, we find Elijah reaction in 19:3-4. Why is Elijah reacting this way?
After this Elijah takes a 40 day journey to mount Horeb and there the Lord appears to him in a gentle whisper. We find Elijah saying this to the Lord in 19:14.
The Lord answers Elijah in 19:15-18. He tells Elijah to anoint 3 people. Hazel will be the new king over their enemies to bring them to repentance. Jehu will be the new king of Israel and he will wipe out all of Ahab’s family. The third one he is to anoint is Elisha to succeed Elijah as prophet. Lastly, the Lord corrects Elijah by telling him that he is not the only one worshiping God, there are 7,000 others who have not bowed down to Baal.
The process of developing Elisha would serve two purposes: One, it would help Elijah overcome his depression by giving him companionship. Most of Elijah’s ministry was done alone. Being alone can be healthy at times but spending too much time alone may distort our view of reality. Everyone needs a friend and Elisha would become that friend that Elijah needed most. Second, it would allow Elijah to pass on his leadership to Elisha. Every leader has the responsibility to pass on the lessons of leadership they have learned to the next generation of leaders.
Read 19:19-21- From that day on Elisha was Elijah’s attendant or more like apprentice.
We find in 19:19 that Elisha was a man of great business skill. He had a team of people with 12 yoke of oxen. After saying goodbye to his family, Elisha slaughtered one yoke of oxen and gave it to the people. Here we see that Elisha has a team of friends and family. Different from Elijah from what we can tell. Elijah is a loner and at this time that was good but times will change. Elisha seems to be more focused on teams of people.
We find Elijah doing much prophetic ministry without Elisha being mentioned in the following chapters but I am sure that Elisha was around and taking it all in. WE find in 2 Kings 2 that Elijah is going to be taken up into heaven. Elisha refuses to leave Elijah because he knows something is going to happen through the company of the prophets. They are first mentioned in 2:3 and they keep being mentioned until chapter 9. Many prophets like Elijah would would arise at the right time but now we see something more here. There is a group of prophets and they are in contact with Elijah and Elisha.