Calling Elisha

I’m getting the opportunity to preach at Unity Baptist Church tonight. This is the sermon I’ll be preaching, I kind of left it open on the end

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1 Kings 19:11–21 (ESV) —11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 15 And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” 19 So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him. 20 And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” 21 And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him.

 

Two Men

Tonight I’m going to talk about two men, Elijah and Elisha. Throughout this sermon I will refer to men, but ladies when I say the word men, that doesn’t get you off the hook. This message applies to the women as much as the men. So if you are a man or still a boy you better listen up. If you are a woman or a girl, just replace the word man with woman and stay with me.

We are going to look at this section of scripture that talks about the calling of Elisha, but I think it’s important that we look at it in light of the message God sent Elijah first.

Context

To help set up the context I’m going to refresh our minds on the story that has preceded this calling. Elijah has set up a contest with the prophets of Baal. He succeeded in proving that our God is the only true God by calling down fire from heaven to consume his sacrifice.  Then Elijah proceeded to slaughter the prophets of Baal, all 450 of them. This has made Jezebel very unhappy and she has made a vow that he will die.

Elijah realizing that Ahab isn’t scared of his wife for no reason runs.  He heads to Mt. Horeb and there he hears the voice of God.

I want us to see a few things here. First Elijah has just experienced an amazing spiritual high. Think about it, God singlehandedly used him to prove God’s power and eliminate the false priest. It is often after we experience these spiritual highs that Satan will attack with fear and doubt.  Surely if God can handle 450 evil priest He can handle one crazy lady. Yet Elijah is hiding out in fear.

Elijah

Now let’s change gears just a little. I want to try and get into the mind of Elijah. There has been many evil kings in Israel, but the 22 years that Ahab was king were the worst. The bible tells us in 1 Kings 16:30-31 And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him. And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him. (1 Kings 16:30-31)

Jeroboam set up so 2 golden calves so the Kingdom of Israel would not go to the temple and worship God. He did not want to lose their allegiance to him. But Ahab made that look like it was nothing. The bible says he made it as if it was a light thing.

So Elijah is a man truly dedicated to God at a time when it seems the rest of the world has gone to hell. Anyone else ever feel that way? Well last time I checked Michelle Obama has not issued a decree that all of the Christians be killed. So we aren’t exactly there yet.

But Elijah feels like he is the last man of God left. Everywhere he turns there is evil and everyone wants him dead. He is growing bitter at the world. He can’t understand why a God that can send fire from heaven can’t stop this madness taking over Israel. God appears and asks him why he is here in the middle of nowhere.

Notice how God comes to him though. There is a great wind storm, followed by an earthquake, followed by fire, which is probably a lightning storm, but God is not in any of them. Then there is a whisper and that is the voice of God. I think that was a message from God in itself. He is telling Elijah that, Yes, I have the power to do all these things, but sometimes I work much quieter than that; and your responsibility is to follow and trust.

So that is what Elijah does He goes to Abel-meholah to find Elisha.

Elisha

So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him. (1 Kings 19:19)

Now let’s look at Elisha and try to get in his mind. Elisha is a young man. While Elijah was a rugged wandering mountain man, Elisha is a farm boy. When Elijah comes upon him, Elisha is plowing his fields. He is working the earth. Elijah comes up to him and places his cloak upon him.

Now the in the culture then a student did not choose his teacher like we do now. You finish high school and put in an application to college and at most colleges, unless you have just really messed up you can get in.

During this time a teacher chose his students, often having only one student. So by putting his cloak on Elisha, Elijah is saying come and be my student. Now also a student would go and leave with his teacher, and would even be somewhat of a servant to his teacher. So in essence what Elijah has said is, “come and follow me.”

Elisha is a young hard working man. I believe He already knew God was calling him. I don’t think the day Elijah showed up was the first time he realized God was going to use him. I don’t think he knew how God was going to use him, but I believe he had felt that calling.

So picture Elisha following his oxen and daydreaming. I imagine he has heard the latest news about Elijah. Elijah calling down fire from heaven, while challenging the priest of Baal. (1 Kings 18:20-40) I bet he thought I would have loved to see the look on Jezebel’s face when she heard what he did slaughtering all the priest.

Wow, Elijah is amazing. They said that as the priest of Baal where praying and trying to call down fire, Elijah was mocking them and even Baal. They said he even told them to yell louder maybe Baal was on the toilet.[1]What he wouldn’t have given to see that.

His mind probably wandered to the village a few miles North West where they said Elijah stayed with a widow and her son. The story goes that the widow was preparing the last meal her and her son would have when Elijah should up and asked for some cake(1Kings 17:8-24). They said she told him that she was using the last of her flour to make her last meal. He told her the flour wouldn’t run out now go fix him that cake. They said that woman didn’t starve to death instead she fed all of them for a while.

Then her son died and Elijah brought him back from the dead. Elisha probably thought to himself, the same God that is using Elijah in this way is calling me.  Then Elijah places his cloak upon him.

Now this may seem strange to us but Elisha understood, it was Elijah inviting him to be his student and wear the cloak of a prophet.  Elisha ran after Elijah and said “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you (1 Ki 19:19–21)  

 

Now let me state real quick so we don’t misunderstand. You may be thinking of a man that told Jesus that He wanted to go and bury his dad, and Jesus told him that anyone who puts their hand to the plow and looks back is not deserving.( Luke 9:57-62) That is not what is happening here. I don’t want to go to deep into the other passage but the man that wanted to go bury his dad, did not have a dying dad. He was telling Jesus that when his dad finally dies and he has settled the estate, or better said got his inheritance he would come follow.

What Elijah is saying is let me say a final farewell to my parents and then I’m ready to go and we shouldn’t misinterpret Elijah’s response.

“Go back again, for what have I done to you?” Elijah is telling Elisha you know what you have to do I’m not the one calling you. I didn’t choose you, God did.

So now we get to the preaching.

Older men! Older Women! God is calling you to go and teach, and raise up your replacement.  I assume if you are here this morning you are still breathing and do you know what that means? God is not done with you yet! Look around you see these young men and women They are the next generation.  You have a choice, you can turn your back on them or you can do as the bible tells you and reach out and teach them.

I think it is pathetic that we look down on youth and complain about biblical illiteracy today, but how many of you are offering  to get up and teach them.  We are always talking about getting another adult class started, we need to be seeing what we can do to teach our children. Not just bible stories, but what it truly means to be a Christian.

What it means to count the cost and follow Jesus anyways. How many of you said good morning to someone more than 20 years younger than you this morning? How many sat down and had a real conversation with someone younger than them today.

The New testament tells us what we are supposed to do, and we can see how important it is right here in the Old Testament. You know Elijah never got to see Baal worship leave Israel, but his student did. Who are you training to get rid of Idolatry in America?

This is easier than you think. Elijah wasn’t breaking out the bible and teaching Elisha the Levitical Law. No, he took him first as a servant. Just follow me and watch what I do. This is how a man of God does.

Are you going on a hospital visit, maybe visitation at a funeral home? Pick up your phone call someone younger and say I’d like you to go to the hospital to visit with me today. Invest in the lives of the future of the church.

Married couples how many of you have invited a young couple into your house and modeled for them a Christian marriage. How many of you married couples have made yourself a part of the life of someone so that when their marriage is falling apart and they don’t know what to do they come to you for advice instead of their friend or even parent that has been divorced three times.

Ladies we have some wonderful cooks here, how many of you have invited a young girl over to learn the secret to that pie you make. God has blessed me with a woman who knows how to cook and has taught our daughters to cook. The people at work are jealous of me come lunch time. I break at the plate with real home cooked food. They pull back the plastic wrap on their microwave meal in a minute. Ladies teach these girls to cook so my boy will be able to eat good. Look at him, he is going to need a woman that can feed him.

Take a minute and think, I want you to think about people who have influenced your life. If your like me the people who come to mind are those older men that took a long haired boy and talked to him and taught him. We have a man here that has made sure some young boys are going to remember him. He has carried them hunting. He has carried them door to door inviting people to church. These boys are some day going to be men and they are going to want to be someone like that man. Are you going to be that man for someone? Are you going to be that woman for someone?

Turn to Titus chapter 2. I’m not asking you to do this. This is what the bible commands you to do. Titus chapter 2 verse 2 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.(Titus 2:1-8)

Let us step up to the task before us and bring glory to God.

Young People

Now I’m going to move to the younger generation. You just heard me get onto these gray heads in here. I’ve told them to go out and mentor you. They know what they are supposed to do. Let’s get started on you now. I want ever young person in here looking at me and paying attention to what I say.

Do you know what Elisha did when God gave him a teacher?

Look back at 1 Kings 19:21 And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him.

Elisha understood that following God’s command, and remember we said earlier Elijah wasn’t calling Elisha; God was. Elisha understood that following God’s command meant giving up his old life. Elisha took his very livelihood and removed any chance of him ever turning back from following God. Now God may not be calling you to sell everything you own to follow him, but he is calling you to get rid of anything that will keep you from following him.

So what is that. Is your attitude, pride keeping you from it? I don’t want to be seen with some old man. High school is hard enough without the jokes that would bring about. Maybe you already know everything and there isn’t anything one of these geezers could teach you. Is that you? Pride and reputation more important than Jesus.

I want you to listen up; Do you understand that Jesus is God? Do you understand that he chose to come to this world, that he stepped down from Heaven, so that he could be mistreated, beaten and murdered for you. He took the very punishment that was intended for you. He was spit on and you are worried about your reputation. Jesus was sold out for thirty pieces of silver are you sold out for Jesus.

I don’t know what you need to give up. You do! I bet right now inside you are screaming for me to shut up because the Holy Spirit is telling you what you have to get rid of. Jesus wants your devotion. Elisha went on to be greater than his teacher. Go home and read chapters 4 through 8 of 2 Kings. But more important than the miracles he performed Elisha got to see Baal worship wiped out of Israel. You are the future of God’s church. You are the ones that get to be a part of turning this world upside down for Christ. You get to do things even greater than the men and women in this room ever imagined.

So what are you going to do? Are you going to reject Christ because you want is more important than what God asks? Maybe you think I need to have fun while I’m a teenager

 

 

 

 

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  1. [1] 1 King 18:27 says literally maybe he has gone aside. Which is a Hebrew Idiom for going to the bathroom. See NIrV or Living Bible for this translation

One Response to Calling Elisha

  1. Deborah Snider says:

    Scott,
    This was very interesting. It reached my heart and there is something for all ages to understand in those verses. thank you for explaining it on our level.

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