Summary: Sermon #1 in a series on the life of Elisha. This sermon challenges us to be the men and women God wants us to be.
1. A wealthy man went on a safari to Africa and took his faithful dog along for company. One day the dog starts chasing butterflies and soon discovers that he’s lost. Before long he notices a leopard heading rapidly in his direction with the obvious intention of having him for lunch. Thinking quickly the noticed some bones on the ground close by, and immediately begins to chew on them with his back to the approaching cat. Just as the leopard is about to leap, the dog exclaims loudly, "Wow, that was one delicious leopard. I wonder if there are any more around here?" The leopard halts his attack in mid stride, and a look of terror comes over him as he slinks away into the trees. "Whew" says the leopard, "That was close. That dog nearly had me." A monkey who had been watching the whole scene from a nearby tree, figures he can put his knowledge to good use and get some protection from the leopard goes to talk to the big cat. But the dog saw him heading after the leopard with great speed, and figured that something must be up. The monkey caught the leopard, spilled the beans and struck a deal. The leopard was furious at being made a fool of and says, "Here monkey, hop on my back and see what’s going to happen to that conniving canine." Meanwhile the dog sees the leopard coming with the monkey on his back, and as they are about to attack says, "Where’s that monkey. I can never trust him. I sent him out half an hour ago to bring me another leopard, and he’s still not back!"
2. Now, I bet you didn’t see that one coming did you? Neither did I the first time I read it. It’s not uncommon to not see things coming in real life either. We’ve all had the experience of being busy living our lives and something comes up that we just didn’t see coming in any way shape or form. You know precisely what I’m talking about don’t you?
3. The same thing was almost certainly true for Elijah. He had been faithfully serving the Lord for many years, when he went through a period of great discouragement and depression. God instructed him to anoint 3 additional men to carry on the work for him. This is interesting because. . .
Aside from the kings, there were only 2 spiritual leaders in the O T who had a part in choosing their successors, Moses and Elijah.
4. You might be surprised by that especially because Elijah went through a period of great discouragement toward the end of his ministry. Not at all what you might expect from a person who had stood with such courage for the Lord when faced with a hostile king and queen who hated God and the faith. Yet, Elijah was a man who often lived up to the big challenge when faced with it, and who sometimes wilted under the pressure when he was by himself. It pays for each of us to know ourselves, because when we are honest about it, we each have strengths and we all have weaknesses as well. That’s always true.
Elijah & Elisha while both devoted prophets were very Different Men.
5. Elijah, who was a Bedouin child of the desert, accustomed to a life of wandering the desert. Elisha, on the other hand, preferred to live in cities, and was often in close connection with kings. Elijah’s message focused on judgment. Elisha presented a strong message, but he was more of a traveling pastor than a desert prophet. He didn’t compromise with his message, but it was a bit more gentle. Elijah’s ministry was characterized by long period when he would disappear and couldn’t be found. Elisha by contrast could always be found by the people. They both had the ministry of a prophet, but they were two different men and they responded as two very different men.
6. This morning begins a study from the life of Elisha and so we will begin at the beginning of his ministry. In fact, we start this morning with his call. Let’s read our passage this morning.
Cell #3-- 1 Kings 19:15-21 (NASB)
15 The LORD said to him, "Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus, and when you have arrived, you shall anoint Hazael king over Aram;
16 and Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint king over Israel; and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint as prophet in your place.
17 "It shall come about, the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu shall put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu, Elisha shall put to death.