Summary: We must have a passion for Christ and that passion must be strong enough to motivate us to follow Jesus no matter what we must leave behind in order to do so.
Last Sunday we talked about the marital relationship between husband and wife and Christ and the church and the kind of commitment that this holy love portrays.
This week we’re looking at the passion that should be a part of the relationship between every believer and the Lord.
Passion is an intense feeling or desire for something or someone.
It can be positive (love) or negative (hate).
We used to live over by Ithaca, NY and would drive through that city occasionally. Ithaca is a very politically liberal city and for the entire eight years of President George W. Bush’s presidency there would be signs in people’s yards expressing their hatred for him.
A police office might be passionate about his work because he realizes that the enforcement of the laws keeps our society from breaking down into total chaos and anarchy. Or a farmer might have a passion for his herd. He knows that a well fed, well cared for contented cow will produce more milk than that cow would if she was underfed, neglected and nervous.
When it comes to passion, though, one of the most meaningless phrases in the world is, “to die for”. Someone might say, “Oh, that chocolate moose tracks ice cream is to die for.” As if someone put a bowl of the stuff next to you and said, “Go ahead and eat the ice cream, but if you do, I’ll have to kill you, but, since “It’s to die for” you probably would go ahead and eat it. Right?
The Scripture we’ll be starting out with is found in 1 Kings 19:19-21.
This event takes place in a divided Jewish kingdom with the 10 tribes of Israel in the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom of Judah.
Elijah has just come from a personal confrontation with the Lord where Elijah is in a depression and telling the Lord that he is the only one left in all of Israel who is faithful to the Lord.
Do you ever get these incredible emails telling of some event that has taken place and you pass it on to your friends only to find out that it is not a true story? Often when I get one I will go out to Snopes.com or TruthOrFiction.com to see if it is true. But even these websites can be wrong.
Well, when Elijah complained about being the only righteous person he soon realized that he should have “fact checked” the statement with the Lord. The Lord is never wrong! His Word never fails!
Lord tells Elijah that there are at least “seven thousand in Israel - all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”
So, we pick up the story in 1 Kings 19:19-21
“So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair.
“Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. ‘Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,’ he said, ‘and then I will come with you.’
“‘Go back,’ Elijah replied. ‘What have I done to you?’ So Elisha left him and went back.
“He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.”
When we jump back to verse 19 it says:
“So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair.”
It is not known if Elisha’s family owned all of the 24 oxen or if it was some kind of community plowing effort. He or his family obviously owned at least the pair he was driving because of what we later learn in the account.
However, we know that Elisha was a man of labor, a man of action.
He was working. He wasn’t sitting around hoping to be the greatest prophet in Israel some day. He was working.
Anyway, here’s Elisha plowing along and Elijah comes walking by and throws his cloak over the back of Elisha. Now, this did not mean that Elijah no longer liked his cloak and wanted to just get rid of it by throwing it onto the back of some poor farmer! This was a sign to all who were watching that Elijah had chosen Elisha to replace him as the chief prophet of the Lord in Israel.
Even more than that, since Elijah was a prophet of the Lord, it signaled that the Lord Himself had chosen Elisha to be a prophet of the Most High God.