The Transfer of Leadership
Reading Time: 8 Minutes
Elijah was a strong prophet whose strength came from God. After the angel ministered unto him he had one more critical mission. He had to find Elisha and transfer the mantle, the symbol of his office, to him.
I Kings 19
:19 So he departed thence,
[left the cave where God was talking with him]
and found Elisha the son of Shaphat,
who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him,
and he with the twelfth:
and Elijah passed by him,
and cast his mantle upon him. [the symbol of leadership]
:20 And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said,
I pray thee,
kiss my father and my mother,
and then I will follow thee.
And he [Elijah] said unto him,
Go back again:
for what have I done to thee?
Elijah ask the question "for what have I done to thee?" He asks not to get an answer but emphasize the meaning of his actions. It is the figure of speech Ertoesis or Interrogating--the asking of questions, not for information, or for an answer. (Appendix 6, Companion Bible, Zondervan). Basically he asks the question "what is the meaning of what I did?" to emphasize his actions and their importance.
:21 And he [Elisha] returned back from him, [Elijah]
and took a yoke of oxen,
and slew them,
and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen,
and gave unto the people,
and they did eat.
Then he arose, and went after Elijah,
and ministered unto him.
After Elisha took care of some business at home and sacrificed unto God, he left his family and friends and went to minister unto Elijah and learn from him. Elisha was willing to accept the anointing and forsake his family to serve God. I am sure he loved God and obeyed His Word for he did great and mighty things for God's people among a corrupted nation.
There is a period of time that Elijah trains Elisha. Bullinger's estimate (in the Companion Bible) is 10 years. Many things happen during this time. Some of the things Elisha witnesses and learns from follows:
The current events in chapter 20 are; Syria comes up against Israel demanding Israel's silver, gold, wives and children. King Ahab refuses and God sends a prophet (God doesn't tell us who this is) to Ahab. The prophet tells Ahab that Syria will be delivered into his hands for now but Syria will return in a year. When they do the prophet tells Ahab that Israel will be victorious. Israel does conquer Syria and their king Benhadad begs for his life. Well, Ahab does the wrong thing and spares him. Since God had appointed Benhadad to utter destruction the prophet tells Ahab that it will be Ahab's life and the lives of his people for Benhadad's life.
Ahab is an unbelieving king whose wife, Jezebel, is exceedingly evil. She is responsible for killing the prophets in Israel. (I Kings 18) In Chapter 21 we get a hint of how bad she really is. Naboth the Jezreelite owned a vineyard next to the palace and Ahab wanted it. Now the king has a right to everything in the kingdom. He can take whatever he wants. But Ahab was kind and offers Naboth replacement property or money but Naboth refuses to give it to him which depresses Ahab. Now Jezebel steps in, has Naboth falsely accused and stoned to death. She then tells Ahab to take the vineyard. This is so wicked.
Now the king is responsible for what happens in his kingdom and since he didn't reign in his evil wife he is responsible for the death of Naboth. God then sends Elijah to tell Ahab that that is the final straw; him and his household will be destroyed like the house of Jeroboam (who did evil and the entire family was destroyed). This is God's assessment of Ahab and Jezebel:
I Kings 21
: 25 But there was none like unto Ahab,
which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the LORD,
whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.
:26 And he did very abominably in following idols,
according to all things as did the Amorites,
whom the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.
Elijah told Ahab that his household was going to be destroyed because of their evil ways and Ahab's turn of heart spares his life.
:27 And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words,
that he rent his clothes,
and put sackcloth upon his flesh,
and lay in sackcloth,
and went softly.
:28 And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,
:29 Seest thou how Ahab humbleth himself before me?
because he humbleth himself before me,
I will not bring the evil in his days:
but in his son's days will I bring the evil upon his house.
[allow evil to come upon the house, see the Idiom of Permission]
Only God knows a man's heart. I am surprised he is spared, but that is God's decision. Elisha learns from this and we should also. God judges people according to His Word and not their actions whether good or bad. God knows a man's heart whether it is good or evil. Knowing this I ask myself, "What would Ahab have been like if he had married a Believer?" Take heed as to who you surround yourself with. Who do your children hang around with? Like it or not, they influence you.
II Corinthians 6
:14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:
for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?
and what communion hath light with darkness?
:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love;
in honour preferring one another;
Prefer to spend your time with Believers.