Elisha’s Commitment

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: I Kings 19:19-21


I.         Elijah had despaired that his work had been for naught - I Kings 19:14

            A.        God told him that he had work to do - I Kings 19:15-17

            B.        Elijah thought he was alone, but now he learns Hazael and Jehu are to be God’s appointed leaders

            C.        On top of this he is to appoint a successor to himself.

            D.        And here he thought he was alone! - I Kings 19:18

II.        The calling of Elisha is an interesting event

            A.        Elijah finds Elisha plowing a field

                        1.         There were twelve pairs of oxen being used in the field and Elisha was operating the last pair.

                        2.         The number of oxen indicates both a very large farm and that Elisha’s family is very well off.

                        3.         Yet despite their wealth, Elisha is not above being among the workmen.

            B.        Elijah walks by him and threw his cloak over him

                        1.         It appears that prophets of those day had a special garb - Zechariah 13:4

                        2.         Hence, Elisha would have recognized it as an invitation to become a prophet.

                        3.         And yet Elijah walks on as if nothing important had happened.

            C.        Elisha, we see, is excited by the selection and is not in the least put out by Elijah’s seeming callousness.

                        1.         He runs after Elijah and asks permission to tell his parents good-bye

                        2.         This is not a reluctance to go or a longing to remain as we see in - Luke 9:61-62

                        3.         Elisha is giving respect to those who brought him this far.

            D.        Elijah’s response sounds harsh

                        1.         By saying “What have I done to you?” Elijah is saying that Elisha’s selection was not his choice but God’s

                        2.         As a man selected by God to be a prophet, he is not accountable to Elijah but God

                        3.         If he must go back to say good-bye, then that is between Elisha and God.

            E.        On his way back, Elisha does a very interesting thing.

                        1.         He takes the pair of oxen that he was using, kills them, and boils the meat

                        2.         He uses the equipment, most of it being made of wood and leather to fuel the flames for the cooking.

                        3.         He then gives the meat to people around him to eat.

            F.        Elisha burnt his bridges behind him

                        1.         There could be no going back.

                                    a.         The tools of his trade are destroyed

                                    b.         The animals are dead and the meat has been consumed. There was not profiting or chance to buy back what he once had.

                        2.         This act puts his desire to say good-bye to his parents in proper light as well. He is leaving no obligations or regrets behind him.

                        3.         He has wrapped up all his loose ends.

                        4.         There was no other place to go, but with Elijah

III.       Probably the greatest difficulty people have in choosing to become a Christian is leaving their past behind

            A.        When the apostles were called, they left what they had behind

                        1.         Matthew left his job when called, right in the middle of the day - Matthew 9:9

                        2.         Peter and Andrew just dropped their nets and followed - Mark 1:16-18

                        3.         As did James and John - Mark 1:19-20

                        4.         Paul left fame - Philippians 3:3-7

            B.        The rich young rule couldn’t leave his wealth behind - Luke 18:22-23

                        1.         Is not that it is wrong to be wealthy, but that most who are wealthy are too tied to this world - Luke 18:24

                        2.         They can’t make a full commitment, as the apostles did - Luke 18:28-30

            C.        The point is an attitude of dedication and commitment - Luke 9:57-62

                        1.         The offer to follow was good, but it came with conditions

                        2.         Following was important, but other things were seen as more important.

IV.      The call of the past

            A.        In the parable of the sower, though some heeded the call, they drifted back into the world - Matthew 13:22

            B.        It is what happened to Demas - II Timothy 4:10

            C.        It is the struggle many Christians have as they battle the sins of their past - I Peter 4:1-3

                        1.         Being a Christian doesn’t stop temptation

                        2.         It is essential that we cut the baggage from the past

            D.        All Christians were once in the world - Ephesians 2:1-3

            E.        But that was a former life - Ephesians 4:17-24

            F.        We remain in the world, but we cannot allow ourselves to become entangled in that world - II Timothy 2:3-7

V.        The past takes our eyes off the goal

            A.        Hebrews 12:1-3 - Jesus is who we aim to follow

            B.        Heaven is our goal - Philippians 3:8-14

            C.        Are you committed? Fully committed?

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