Nick Poindexter

My style's like a chemical spill

Tag: 1 Kings

Slaughter Your Oxen, Burn Your Plow

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.
-1 Kings 20:21 (NIV)

So Elisha is out in the fields with his oxen, doing the daily plowing he was used to. Up walks Elijah, who promptly puts his cloak on Elisha, symbolic of passing the torch. Before he leaves to be Elijah’s assistant, Elisha proceeds to kiss his parents goodbye, and then immediately kills all of his oxen and sets his plow on fire.

I love the significance of Elisha’s actions here. The life of a successful plowman is all he had ever known. If the whole prophet thing didn’t work out, it represented a safety net. Most of us would love having that back-up plan before we took such a leap of faith.

But no, not Elisha. Instead of allowing his past to linger in the back of his mind, he completely destroyed everything that had something to do with his former lifestyle. For him this is a new beginning.

I think this story works on two levels for us today. First, when God calls us, do we show the same level of commitment and trust that Elisha did? Or do we leave fallback options, just in case? Secondly, when Christ called us to follow him and leave our life of sin, do we cut off all ties from our past lives? Or do we keep some sinful doors open, just in case?

You see, being called by God, no matter the gravity of the situation, oftentimes means cutting ties with something else. Unfortunately, it’s usually the things we’re most comfortable with… Things we cling to like our lifestyle, sustenance, and families. And that’s never easy.

But when God is moving, we must respond. Something big is about to happen. No safety nets, back-up plans, or fallback options allowed.

You gotta do what you gotta do. Slaughter your oxen, burn your plow.

There’s no turning back.

On The Fence

And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.
-1 Kings 18:21 (ESV)

In 1 Kings 18, we find the prophet Elijah greatly outnumbered: 450 prophets of Baal against 1 prophet of the Lord (himself). King Ahab had led the Israelites astray by worshiping multiple gods, and apparently the god du jour was Baal. Elijah decided enough is enough… He must speak out against this. Either follow God or follow Baal, he says. Sitting on the fence is not an option.

While this verse is obviously speaking of people who are following multiple gods, it really goes further than that nowadays. Specifically, it’s about the other “gods” that battle for the focus of Christians today. The things that we devote ourselves to instead of giving our all for God.

It’s almost as if Elijah is speaking to us today saying, “If gods like power/fortune/fame is what you desire, then fine. Go for it. But if it’s the true God who you claim you follow, then give those things up and follow him wholeheartedly.”

I really like the use of the world “limping” here as well. The imagery there is tremendous.

When you try to follow two things at the same time, the result isn’t pretty.You’ll trip. You’ll stumble. You’ll be confused. You’ll probably end up limping, not able to give either direction your best, and ultimately lose track who who you’re following in the first place.

Even though it was given thousands of years ago to a completely different type of people and culture, Elijah’s advice is just as applicable to us as it was to the Israelites.

Get off the fence. Stop limping. We must follow the real God and him alone.

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