Study 1 CALLED AND EQUIPPED FOR SERVICE
Studies in the Life of Elisha
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portions: 1 Kings 19: 15-21; 2 Kings 2: 9-13)
Elisha, Elijah’s successor, had assisted him for nine years before God entrusted him with the full responsibility of the task He had committed to him. In many ways these two men are much alike: both wrought similar miracles, lived in a time of apostasy and were channels of blessing to very needy people, but there are marked differences in their ministries. Elijah was a stern, lonely, rugged prophet of fire, whereas Elisha was a gentle, winsome prophet of vision. We are told very little of Elijah’s background and preparation for the great ministry to which God called him – but Elisha is introduced in a very different way. The story of his call in 1 Kings 19:15-21 contains a special message for those servants of God whom He calls to special service. Notice the following points – some of which we considered in our series on Elijah (in Series 12):-
1. ELISHA WAS AN UNLIKELY PERSON FOR GOD TO CALL TO SPECIAL SERVICE.
Verses 15-16 tell us who he was and what he was doing when God’s call came to him – verse 19. Elijah’s successor was a ploughman. An unlikely successor? – look up: Moses (Exodus 3:1); Gideon (Judges 6:11); David (Psalm 78:70); Amos (Amos 7:14) and compare 1 Corinthians 1:26-29. The truth that God’s call comes unexpectedly and to unlikely people is illustrated throughout the Bible and in the experience of God’s people in every generation.
2. ELISHA’S CALL WAS CLEAR, DEFINITE AND UNMISTAKABLE.
God is the director of all His work. He chooses and commissions men and women for His service, and He does this definitely and clearly – look up Matthew 9:38, and compare Acts 13:1-4 where these men whom God wanted for missionary service were called by name so there could be no mistake about His plan and purpose for them. Often, however, the call comes indirectly, as in the case of Elisha who received his commission through Elijah.
3. ELISHA RECEIVED HIS CALL WHILE HE WAS FAITHFULLY WORKING AT THE PLOUGH.
Was he unsettled in his work and longing to get into “full-time service”? We do not know; but we do know he was faithfully doing his present job when he was called. This should be the attitude of all who are looking to the Lord to guide them into fuller service for Him. If you are praying to Him to lead you into missionary service, pastoral work…let me ask you: Are you doing your present job as unto Him? Are you punctual, conscientious, respectful and co-operative? You are in God’s school, so make the most of this training time.
4. ELISHA DID NOT ATTEMPT TO ENTER GOD’S SERVICE UNTIL HE HAD CALLED HIM.
Only when he was absolutely sure of God’s call did he leave his plough and his family and follow Elijah in obedience to the Lord. What constitutes the call of God to special service?
- 1. The NEED is not the Call. The need for servants of the Lord is very great, but the need alone does not constitute the call.
- 2. The OPPORTUNITY is not the Call. There is plenty of opportunity for serving the Lord, but this alone does not constitute the call.
- 3. The ABILITY is not the Call. We may be qualified spiritually, mentally and physically, but this does not constitute the call.
- 4. The INVITATION is not necessarily the Call. Some Elijah may approach us, but we must be sure that in his invitation it is God’s voice speaking to us.
- 5. The DESIRE is not the Call. We may have a burning desire to serve the Lord, but let us beware lest we move before He has commanded us.
The call of God is that deep, inward conviction, accompanied by peace in the heart and confirmed by the Word of God, that He would have us do a certain work in a certain place.
5. ELISHA WAS CALLED TO A MOST DIFFICULT JOB OF WORK.
God’s call always is to a difficult task – compare verses 16 and 17. Could it have been easy for Elisha to slay those who escaped from the sword of Jehu? Could it have been easy to be Elijah’s assistant for nine years? Link up Luke 9:61 with this incident, and see how appropriate it is. Once we respond to God’s call we become involved in a spiritual warfare and are special targets for the Devil – look up Ephesians 6:12. We therefore need two special qualifications: stability and stickability.
6. ELISHA NOT ONLY RECEIVED GOD’S CALL TO SERVICE BUT ALSO HIS SPECIAL EQUIPMENT FOR SERVICE.
Elijah’s mantle, cast upon Elisha, was the symbol of a holy anointing from the Lord – see verse 19, and compare verse 16. When God calls to His service He always equips – look up Gideon (Judges 6:11-14); Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:3-10); the Lord Jesus (Matthew 3:16); the disciples (Luke 24:49; Acts 2:4 – compare Acts 13:1-4), and notice the promise made to each one of us – Acts 1:8. “All God’s commands are God’s enablings”, and in 2 Kings 2:9-13 we see how conscious Elisha was of his need for spiritual enduement in order to accomplish God’s purpose through his ministry.
7. ELISHA RESPONDED TO GOD’S CALL WITH A WHOLEHEARTED SURRENDER.
God’s call to him was confirmed by the placing of Elijah’s mantle upon him, and verses 20-21 tell us how Elisha responded. How should we respond to the call of God?
- 1. With a Holy Urgency. Compare the first nine words of verse 20 with Acts 8:29-30.
- 2. With a Holy Determination. Compare verses 20-21 with Luke 9:61 – but do not confuse Elisha with the man to whom our Lord spoke. Elisha went home to say goodbye; he was quite prepared to leave his loved-ones, his home and his all to do the Lord’s will. Every servant of the Lord must likewise be willing and ready for anything – see verse 21, where we read of his public farewell and the complete renunciation of the old life, even to the burning of some of his ploughs. This was symbolic of his wholehearted surrender to the Lord.
- 3. With a Holy Devotion. Read the great words at the end of verse 21 – and compare Luke 5:10-11.
Closing Thought: Isaiah 28:16.