“So Elisha left him [Elijah] 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 servant.” (I Kings 19:21, NIV)
Talk about burning bridges — with style!
As disciples of Jesus, when we are committed to Him, nothing/no one else matters; but it doesn’t give us license to be disrespectful or ungracious to others.
When Elisha received from God the call to become Elijah’s successor, Elisha asked for permission from Elijah to properly bid farewell to his mother and father (verse 20). That was the respectful thing to do.
Elisha then sacrificed the implements of his former life (the plowing equipment and the oxen) and from them hosted a huge “barbecue” for his neighbors. That was the gracious thing to do.
We may not be able to choose our “calling,” but we are able to choose how we depart. Let us strive to be respectful and gracious in all that we do. – Luther
Hi Luther, I have a question….. Elisha was able to say goodbye to his parents and friends. However, in the NT when one asked to say goodbye to his parents (after Jesus said ‘follow me’), Jesus didn’t grant that request. What are your thoughts on these different approaches between Elisha and Jesus? Thanks.
Thank you for your question. It is a good one, and shows that you are a student of the scriptures.
In the instance where Jesus refused the would-be disciple’s request to FIRST go and say good-bye to his family (Luke 9:57-62), it is different from Elisha’s “burning the ships” act of commitment to the road ahead. In this example, the person is looking back, not forward. Looking backward: It is a dangerous way to drive and a frustrating way to live.
Elisha, on the other hand, was destroying (with purpose) his livelihood — which were the ox and cart. Doing so makes it hard — if not impossible — to return to the familiar things behind us when things get tough on the road we’ve chosen. It is much harder to stay on the path of healthy eating when your cupboards are full of junk food.
Thank you, again, for your thoughtful question.