Bible Insights

Elisha Goes All in to Follow Elijah

Elisha’s Total Commitment to Follow Elijah Leaves No Option to Go Back

After Elijah has a meltdown of sorts, God reassures him that he is not alone and gives him several things to do. One of those tasks is to anoint his successor, Elisha.

Elijah finds Elisha plowing in a field. It’s a group effort, with twelve teams of oxen each pulling a plow. As the twelfth team, Elisha takes up the rear.

This suggests he and his team are the least capable. Perhaps Elisha lacks experience, or his oxen aren’t that strong.

If he had other teams behind him and he went slow, that would slow them down too. That’s why he’s last.

Just as King David was the youngest of his brothers (1 Samuel 16:10-13), Elisha is the least of the teams plowing. Yet in both cases God picks the least.

Can I Say Goodbye First?

When Elijah taps Elisha, Elisha expresses interest, but he asks permission to say “Goodbye” first. Although Jesus will later criticize this type of response (Luke 9:61-62), Elijah does not.

But Elisha does more than just say goodbye. He throws himself a celebration party of sorts. How does he do this?

Elisha kills his team of oxen. Then he breaks up their yoke and his plowing equipment to build a fire. He roasts the meat and feeds the people. Once everyone has eaten, Elisha leaves to follow Elijah.

No Turning Back

When Jesus calls Peter, Andrew, James, and John, they leave their boats and follow him. But they don’t destroy their boats.

In fact, they still use their boats after becoming Jesus’s disciples. And after Jesus dies, these disciples return for a time to fishing.

Since their boats are still available, they have a backup plan. But Elisha doesn’t have a fallback option. When he decides to follow Elijah, he kills his oxen and destroys his equipment.

He has no work to return to if things don’t work out with Elijah and the call to become a prophet. He has no opportunity to go back. He’s committed. He’s all in.

And isn’t that what God wants of us? He wants us committed to him, to go all in, and with no option to return to what we left behind.

With Jesus, there should be no turning back.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is 1 Kings 17-19 and today’s post is on 1 Kings 19:19-21.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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