Some people love working, some don’t mind working and others hate working. This thing is that if you don’t work, you don’t earn money and you can’t survive. More than that, God created us to work and after the Genesis Chapter three’s fall into sin, work would be hard.
Ge 3:17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
The problem is that nowadays many people go to work for the cheque at the end of the month … without enjoying what they do. Some, like me, start out working doing what they might be good at but not cut out for, yet what I did was all part of God’s plan to shape me for what He called me into Christian Ministry to do, even though I was not aware of it at the time. He used the trade I entered plus working in the fishing industry to hone me for what lay ahead. The one thing I might say is that Christian Ministry is not for lazy people. You need to be good at your career and a hard worker because the work God has for His Gospel Workers is not a piece of cake! Now let’s return to Elisha.
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.
The context must be drawn from 1 Kings 19:16, which reads:
1Ki 19:16 “… and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet.”
God instructed Elijah to find and anoint Elisha as his replacement prophet. Elisha was to be “an apprentice prophet” and to learn from the very best man of God available.
Elisha Was a Farmer
He was ploughing the land. He knew hard work, long hours and lots of dirt. That’s farming … and remember this was thousands of years before tractors and modern farming equipment. Rigging up twelve oxen required a strong man and equally so directing them to plough the field. God used an experience farmer to follow Elijah to plough God’s field. This reminds us of Jesus calling His disciples to pray for workers.
Mat 9:37 … “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
And don’t forget what the harvest field is all about:
Mt 4:18 As 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.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him. It does not matter the type of work you do
Just as Elisha was an apprentice to Elijah, so were the disciple to Jesus … but note they were hard workers, prepared to put in the hours and work during any weather. Whether it is full time or part time lay ministry, God requires men and women who are prepared to work hard, not be afraid to work long hours or get their “hands dirty” in any season of the year!
Elisha’s Call Was Confirmed
In his day there were no Bibles as we have them today. The scrolls were few and stored in the temple and guarded by the priests. He did not ask for a sign but he was given a sign … once Elijah found him … Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elijah’s cloak represented not just the authority of a prophet, it represented the authority of God. Personally today, because we have the Bible readily available to all Christians, I believe God confirms His call through His Word. Some might refer to a sign, but I feel a sign cannot be trusted where a Scripture verse holds steadfast for the duration of ministry. When the going gets tough, you are able to claim that Scripture! Literally you can say: “God you said this to me in … (Book, Chapter and Verse).” When God confirms a call through His Word it is the greatest comfort and promise you will ever have. You need it. Pray for it and look for it as you spent time in His Word daily!
Elisha Wrestled About This Call From God
1Ki 19:20 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.” …
He was reluctant to follow without greeting his parents. This happened with Jesus too!
Mt 8:21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
Jesus’ reaction was “Let the dead buried their dead”. Elijah’s was:
1Ki 19:20 … “Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”
But there was a difference–Elisha did follow Elijah.
We will get to that tomorrow, but for now, has God been prodding you about fulltime or lay ministry? It might be natural to panic and ask all sorts of questions and even challenge God. What would you say your greatest fear is? The work you do or the education you have? Maybe you’re very happy in your career or work long hours or earn a handsome salary. You might be married and have children, an aging parent or don’t want to leave the area you live in. Where these are legitimate concerns, through prayer, if God is calling you, He will address each giving you comfort and assurance that He is setting you apart for ministry … fulltime or lay ministry.
Our Heavenly Father, we are so aware that You need many of Your children to enter fulltime service and others to fulfil part time ministry. Amongst us there are dear brothers and sisters whom You are calling. Clarify Your call on their lives. Amen.