“So he departed thence, 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.” (I Kings 19:19)
Once more in control of his emotions, Elijah’s depression disappeared and he was able to resume his ministry. Leaving Horeb, he returned north to Israel. On the way he went through Abelmeholah, Elisha’s hometown, where he found him plowing a field. Normally a single team was sufficient, but the ground was so hard Elisha was using twelve teams, and even then he was having to help pull.
Obviously, Elisha was a person who was used to working hard without seeing a lot of quick results. It would take several years to bring such ground to a high level of production. Clearly Elisha is a person who will not be easily discouraged. Elijah just tossed his mantle, a sleeveless cloak over him, figuratively passing him the mantle of prophet.
“And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee.
And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee?” (I Kings 19:20)
Elisha recognized it as an anointing or appointing by God and asked that Elijah wait until he bid his parents goodbye. Elijah basically said he had to make his own decision, because all Elijah had done was offer the opportunity. It is essentially what Jesus told the young man who offered to follow him in Luke 9:59-60. “And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.” He would have to choose between living a normal life and serving God. Settling his father’s estate could well take years and might prevent ever choosing to follow Christ.
“And he returned back from him, 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.” (I Kings 19:21)
Elisha made a full commitment to a ministry of prophecy. He didn’t take time to sell his oxen or rent them out, but simply offered them as a sacrifice to God, using the yokes, blow and other equipment for fire wood. There was no way he could go back and pick up where he left off if things didn’t turn out like he wanted them.
Over the years I have watched a number of men surrender to the ministry with the provision that they would do it for a while to see how it worked out. Others have talked about how much they would have had if they had stayed in the professions as a doctor, an athlete, a musician, or a business man. Luke 9:62 warns, “… No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Though they may continue in ministry, they are not committed to Christ. It is the theme of Luke 14:16-35.
In fact Luke 14:26-27 declares athat a person cannot be a Christian unless he is willing to make such a commitment. “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” Elisha made the commitment, leaving himself no where to go back to.