It’s one thing to be called to be a Christian, and another thing being called into Christian service or ministry. I’m very aware that many today do not believe in “a call to Christian Ministry”. That is their prerogative, though personally I believe in a call.
I had a good career, established as a family with our own house, running a small church we started with another family. Life was hectic but good when suddenly the pastor we fell under as a church visited and literally told me I needed to be at Bible School, studying for the ministry.
I was confused as this was so sudden. It’s not that I did not want to enter the full time ministry, but what did God want? I was given two weeks to decide as it was closing in on the new academic year. I spend those two weeks seeking God’s will and on the last day He gave me a Scripture that has carried me throughout my ministry … through the good, difficult and hard times. It is 1 Thessalonians 5:24, which reads:
1 Thess 5:24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
God has always been faithful and I can truthfully say that when God gave me that verse as I was doing my devotions … it sank deep and has proved my calling for around 40 years!
Today I want to turn to the Call of Elisha. Remember Elijah was thinking his ministry ought to end. He thought he had, had sufficient of a hard and challenging ministry … but God had other ideas:
1Ki 19:16 “… and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet.”
1Ki 19:21 … Then he [Elisha] set out to follow Elijah and became his attendant.
The word “attendant” is also translated as “servant”. You get the picture of an apprentice prophet … one who needs to learn from the experienced and seasoned Elijah. Now to Elisha’s call:
1Ki 19:19 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.
There might be many things we could lift out of this short passage. However there are five things I would like to address about Elisha.
The Person Who Was Called
His name was Elisha, which means “God is my Saviour”. Although his name has a great meaning, it’s not the name because many people have names like Christian or Emmanuel or even a surname de Jesus and are total pagans. What we need to see in Elisha was his spiritual qualifications. He was part of the people of God and if God chose him, he was a spiritual man, filled with the Holy Spirit. When considering a call to ministry today, you need to be clear that you are Christian in the full sense of the word’s meaning. There needs to have been the experience of the New Birth because of confession of sin, receiving Jesus as Lord and proving the new life through a life of repentance. Many believed they are suited for Christian ministry of some sort, but they cannot testify to a genuine experience of salvation. They might enter ministry only to find pretty quickly that they are not Christian and not suited. Others could well be Christians but have not been called.
The Place Where Elisha Was Found
He was from Abel Meholah, located near the Jordan River south of Bethshean. In the Hebrew Abel Meholah means “meadow of dancing, dancing meadow”. This town seems quite impressive, especially being so close to a major river and if names are anything to go by … it was a place of happiness (meadow of dancing). Like the person called, the place he comes from is not important in Gospel Ministry. Some might think that coming from an affluent society and a prestigious family means “best candidate” for ministry. It might … but generally it does not! This does not mean education is not necessary. It is, but calling is more important. There are great full time people in ministry who have come from being well placed, yet many more have come from what might be called the lower echelons of society. God has this habit of using people of various cultures and places to reach people unreachable by people from other cultures and places.
1Co 1:26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him.
Tomorrow we will look at the other three matters, but for today I want you to consider a few things. In the face of the need for Gospel Workers throughout our world and especially in our country …
(1) Do you believe you are truly Born Again? Whether it is full time ministry or lay ministry, God needs spiritual people. People who know Jesus Christ as Lord and willingly to trust Him, apart from heaven … for this life and everything you will need for ministry.
(2) Are you concerned about who you are? Does your education or life before Christ or your family concern you?
(3) Are you worried about the town or village you originate from? God is concerned about you as a person … as a Child of God. Never forget that Mary and Joseph came from very poor and humble beginnings yet God used Mary to give birth to and Joseph to be the step-father of Messiah! God is interested in saved willing souls to be in His service. Are you one?
Our Glorious Father, thank You that You use people of Your choice and calling for ministry. Thank You that You do not gauge us as the world gauges people. You see our hearts and You know our minds, gifts, abilities and Gospel intentions. Thank You. Amen.