Summary: Elisha was willing to obey the call, prepared to count the cost, and determined to make the commitment.
Elisha was one of the great prophet of God recorded in the Bible!
• His name in Hebrew means ‘my God is salvation’ and his ministry would prove to be a testimony to the meaning of his name.
• He was God’s choice. We read last week how the Lord asked Elijah to anoint Elisha to succeed him as prophet (19:16).
• We are going to read the call of Elisha today – 1 Kings 19:19-21.
Read 1 Kings 19:19-21.
19 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. 20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. "Let me kiss my father and mother good-by," he said, "and then I will come with you."
"Go back," Elijah replied. "What have I done to you?"
21 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 attendant.
HE OBEYED THE CALL He was WILLING to obey the CALL
Elijah was directed by God to find Elisha, his successor-to-be.
• He was a ploughman. Elijah saw him ploughing the ground with his oxen. This was done to loosen the ground before sowing.
• Elijah went up and threw his mantle around Elisha. Elisha did not have to ask, “What was going on?” He knew exactly what that meant.
A mantle then was typically made of animal hair and generally worn by kings and prophets to represent their position and authority.
• So the passing of the mantle was understood then as the calling of the one receiving it to follow the master.
• Elisha knew what that means and he wanted to follow Elijah. He was willing to accept the call into the ministry of the prophets.
This wasn’t Elijah’s plan. It wasn’t even Elisha’s own doing. From what happened earlier, we know this was the plan of God.
• There was no coercion, no hard-selling, no canvassing or any persuasion from Elijah.
• Elisha was simply going about his normal daily business of ploughing the fields, when God came through his prophet Elijah and sought him out.
It reminds us of what Jesus said to His disciples - John 15:16 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-fruit that will last.”
• When Jesus called the first disciples, the situation was very similar - Matt 4:18-22.
18As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." 20At once they left their nets and followed him.
21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, 22 and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.
Elisha has the freedom to choose and he chose to follow Elijah and serve the Lord.
• It wasn’t a choice to a better life, as in an easy and comfortable life. Elisha was called at a difficult time in his nation’s history. They were surrounded by enemies and there was widespread apostasy in their land.
• So it wasn’t a recruitment for a glamourous job. It was a call to significance.
HE COUNTED THE COST He was PREPARED to count the COST
We see the seriousness of Elisha’s response. He slaughtered his pair of oxen as a sacrifice and burnt the ploughing equipment to cook the meat!
• No going back for this young man! In doing this he cut off his old occupation completely. No going back.
• And this was no small feat. We were told he had twelve pairs of oxen in the field, meaning he was likely very rich.
• With twelve pairs of oxen ploughing the field, his crops were understandably huge.
There’s a lot to let go. But to Elisha, more to ‘gain’ in serving the Lord as a prophet.
• He would still plough the hard ground, so to speak - not the natural ground of this land - but the spiritual ground of the hearts of his people.
• God is going to use him to till the hardened hearts of the Israelites and prepare them for the sowing of God’s seed – the truth of God.
Knowing what he did help us understand his earlier words to Elijah: “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye, and then I will come with you.” (19:20)