I KINGS 19:16,19-21
Before we deal with the text, let’s try to learn a little more about Elisha. In reality, he is just an ordinary man. The Bible doesn’t specify if he was from a rich family but if they had 12 yoke of oxen, they were not poor. He might not have had much education. He was not a prophet. We don’t even know if he was very religious. He is just a guy plowing a field which was not easy work. As he worked the field, his clothes would stick to his body from the sweat. All day long he was walking behind the oxen smelling their stench and being covered with their dust and dung. It was a boring job and every day was about the same. It is just like some of us who have had the same jobs for years. We begin to suffer from what I call the same old same old disease. Elisha suffered from this disease. He would wake up at the same time, put on the same old clothes, get the oxen and plow ready, go to the same field, follow behind the same old oxen, plow all day, come home, eat, go to bed and get up the next day and do it all over again. I imagine Elisha had plenty of time to day dream as he walked behind those oxen. No doubt he would ask himself is this all there is? Am I destined to do this for the rest of my life? Have there been times when you asked yourself that question?
As we can see at this time Elisha’s life was not very exciting. What he did not realize was there was someone talking about him behind his back and their conversation would change his life. We see in I Kings 19:15-17, God is having a conversation with Elijah. In this conversation, God gave him specific instructions. Part of the instructions was to anoint Elisha to take his place. God sends Elijah on his way to find Elisha. For Elisha, it was just an ordinary day. He did not expect his life to interrupted or changed. He was not looking to do anything different. In fact he was learning to live with the life he had been dealt. What he did not know was God had been watching him. God watched him day after day behind that plow. Elisha thought this was his lot in life but he did not know God had something greater. He had a work for him to do that was far beyond anything he could have ever imagined. Elijah searched until he found Elisha and watch what he did. Elijah passed by and threw his cloak on him. Elijah never said a word. There was no conversation needed. This act signified that he was to be Elijah’s successor. Just like Elisha, God may be talking about you behind your back. He may be working behind the scenes to orchestrate your life. Just because you have not heard God call your name or tell you specifically what to do with your life does not mean He is not talking about you behind your back. Have you ever wondered why you ended up where you are, doing what you are doing? Could it be God was working it out all along? You may see yourself in a dead beat job with no future but God see you doing greater.
This brings us to our text. Once Elijah threw his coat on Elisha, Elisha did not hesitate. He begins to run after Elijah. However, he does more than that. He makes sure there is nothing to run back to. Look at I Kings 19:21 So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen’s equipment, and gave it to the people and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant. Do you see what Elisha did? Once he knew that he was supposed to follow Elijah, he killed his oxen and then set his plow on fire to cook them. We must understand the significance of what he did. By burning his oxen and plow, he was destroying his way of living. He was destroying everything that was familiar to him. He was destroying the only way of life he ever knew. To some this act may have seemed irresponsible but Elisha knew exactly what he was doing. He knew it was necessary. Are you willing to burn your plows?
Elisha was making a statement not only to his friends and family but also to himself. His actions sent the message that he was making a decisive break from his old life. The things he used to do, he was not going to do anymore. He now realized God had greater for him. Just like Elisha, many of us are chained to our old familiar lives. God has greater for us but we can’t see it. The devil doesn’t want us to see it. He wants us to remain in the ordinary, comfortable lives we have become accustomed to. As long as we live like that, we are no threat to him. It is only when we realize God has greater for us that we become a threat to him. Just like Elisha, for us to attain the greater God has for us, we will have to burn our plows.
What is a plow? A plow is anything or anyone that keeps you chained to the ordinary. A plow is those things that keep you from fulfilling the potential God has placed within you. A plow could be anything. It could be a job you have been on for years. You stay there because it is comfortable and it pays the bills. It could be material possessions. We can become so attached to the material possessions that when God asks us to leave them behind, we struggle. It could be your education. Sometimes we become so intelligent that we won’t hear or receive correction from anyone. It could be our personal appearance. It could be family or friends. I need to make this clear. I am not saying we are supposed to get rid of our families. I’m saying that they can have so much influence on us that it hinders us from doing the will of God. Most of us sitting here want the more of God. We know we are supposed to be doing more for God. If we are to accomplish this then we must burn our plows. Elisha burned his oxen and plow so he had nothing to run back to and we must do the same thing. There are things we are hanging on to because they are familiar. What we don’t realize is that these are the very things that are hindering us from experiencing God’s greater for us. They have become plows in our lives and it is time to set them on fire. ARE YOU WILLING TO BURN YOUR PLOWS?