In 2kings this week, we read one of the most famous passages in the Bible, the departure of Elijah and anointing of Elisha. Elisha said something reminiscent of Ruth (we have been studying the book of Ruth). He said to Elijah even as Ruth said to Naomi, ‘I will not leave you’. Several times Elijah told him to go back, and he persistently said ‘nope, I’m staying with you’. And because of his persistence, he received the desired object, a double portion of Elijah’s anointing. The relationship between these two men is most instructive and delivers a few principles worth looking at :
1. Principles 1 & 2 : Faithfulness and Humility in service :
- Elijah called Elisha to service in a most unique way. After he heard from God, he simply threw his cloak over him, Elisha understood and followed, and stayed. He stuck with it as Elisha’s servant until it was time for him to step into those big shoes. He did not change his mind and go home.
- God’s purposes advance when He finds people who honour the call to service, who are willing, committed, and utterly reliable, not prima donnas who must always be cajoled and begged to serve, here today and gone tomorrow; today taking the city for Jesus, tomorrow, well, God has ‘said something else’
- Father’s heart rejoices over people who humble themselves to learn and be trained, who understand that it is an honour to be asked even to sweep the floor of the place of worship, not those who disconnect because they have not been asked to lead the worship, nor those eminent individuals who sometimes are barely in the door before they begin to tell Elijah how he should be running the ministry.
- It is interesting that even after Elisha became the prophet in the land, they still described him as the one who poured water on Elijah’s hands.
2. Principle 3 : Relationships matter : stay close and be thankful
- Elisha, like Ruth understood the value of his relationship and he stayed close to his man of God. The sons of the prophets were also followers of Elijah but they followed from afar, Elisha from up close. He was not distracted, but was conscious of his unique position and stayed with it. It is a privilege to be in relationship with a genuine man or woman of God who has your interests at heart.
- Many miss out greatly because they do not value the place God has put them in where he purposes to elevate them. When you have access to a leader, be thankful. It is not up to you to start finding fault with them or to put them straight. If you are not assigned to them, move on rather than sin, but if you are, recognise the privilege and do not consort with those who are sitting on the sidelines, having a bad attitude. Your attitude and thinking must not reflect that of people who have not been positioned like you. Recognise what you have and honour it.
- Elisha reminds me somewhat of Joshua who was Moses’ servant. Joshua stayed in the tent of the presence while others were gadding about. He also stayed in right relationship with Moses. When the time came, God saw his steadfastness and faithfulness and anointed him. There were other elders and leaders but he was the only one we are told of who stayed in the tent. He was conscious of the privilege he enjoyed. He stayed close to God and to Moses.
3. Principles 4 & 5: loyalty and a pure heart:
- Interestingly Aaron and Miriam rebelled against Moses and were forgiven by God, but neither of them saw the promised land. Even when family members who should have been the most faithful, the ‘associate ministers’ the priest and prophetess rebelled, Joshua the servant kept a pure heart and stayed loyal. I am astounded that Joshua had such loyalty to Moses and such strength of character that he did not allow himself to be influenced by these two recognised leaders and family members complaining about Moses.
- In Christendom today, any carnal individual can walk into our churches and start complaining about the worship, the people, the pastor, the offering, the building, the children, the video projector, the colour of the carpet, the ushers, shooting at anything that moves and there will always be someone to join them, and foolishly echo the same carnal criticism.
- Not Joshua. What an awesome individual. Any wonder he was the one God chose to take the people into their inheritance? And thus Elisha also received the reward of his faithfulness, and the last words he uttered are particularly telling ‘My father, my father’. God give us fathers and mothers. God make us loyal to them, make us water pourers and tent dwellers.