Burning Plows/Leaving Nets
1 Kings 19:(15-19)
The Lord said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.” So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him.
Elijah finds his successor Elisha plowing with twelve yoke of oxen. For modern Americans such as ourselves, numbers simply communicate a sense of quantity.
In the Bible, however, numbers can carry a variety of shades of meaning. Firstly, this number tells us that Elisha is a prosperous farmer who gives up great wealth to become Elijah’s disciple. And secondly, the number twelve in this passage is symbolic, representing as it often can, the twelve tribes of Israel. Put the depth of meanings together and we find a scene that depicts Elisha as one steering the people of God while at the same time breaking up fallow ground.
This passage may remind you of Jesus’ first encounter with four of his disciples as they were mending their nets. “Come follow me, he said, and I will send you out to fish for men.” (Matt.4:19) Like Elisha they left their possessions and their professions to become disciples.
Elisha left his oxen, Simon Peter left his nets. What is it that we are giving up or laying down to follow Jesus today? It may be an obvious thing. It could be wealth. It could be security or a relationship. It could be something less evident, such as popularity or acceptance.
As you pray for yourself today, take time to tell the Lord that he is worthy of every sacrifice.
As you pray for others today, ask the Lord to surprise them with new challenges and opportunities to make sacrifices for his sake.
Notes from the Staff @The Woods