1 Kings 19:19 – 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.
At just the right time, at one of Elijah’s lowest points, God sends a mutually encouraging Christian friendship for him, with the arrival of Elisha, who becomes a spiritual son (2 Kings 2:12) much like Timothy and Titus in relationship with Paul in the New Testament.
Elisha was simply working a regular job when they met, plowing a field with the help of oxen. Elisha’s name means, “God saves”. He is part of the remnant, loves the Lord, and is living a rather quiet and private life when everything changes, and this “man of God” is called to assist Elijah with his ministry. We are told, “Elisha was active in Israel for 60 years (892–832 bc), performing miracles, teaching students, and acting in state affairs…” (1)
Elisha would spend the next years in training, learning from Elijah, until the leadership mantle is passed to Elisha when Elijah is taken up to Heaven (2 Kings 2:1-12). Elisha’s life is recorded in 2 Kings 2-13, and Jesus mentions him in Luke 4:27.
Like the disciples who dropped their fishing nets to follow Jesus, Elisha literally walks off the job to start walking with Elijah. Completely devoted to the Lord, he immediately kills the oxen, which are the source of his wealth, and throws a lavish BBQ for his neighbors before heading off on the prophetic lifetime adventure God has planned for him.
Have you been like Elisha for someone or has someone been like Elisha for you?
- Amy Balogh, “Elisha the Prophet,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary(Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).
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