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ELISHA SERIES: CHOSEN AS A SUCCESSOR

Elisha is introduced to readers in 1 Kings 19. In this chapter, we read Elijah and Elisha’s initial meeting after God had instructed Elijah to anoint Elisha, the son of Shaphat, whose name means “My God is salvation,” to be his successor.

Having received his instruction Elijah went to the Jordan valley, where he found Elisha in his field plowing behind twelve oxen and passing by him Elijah cast his mantel on him. Knowing what that meant, Elisha requested permission to say farewell to his parents before accompanying Elijah. Hence Elisha returned home, gave his farewells, slew and cooked two of his oxen, and gave the meat to the people. After which, he reconnected with Elijah and became his attendant.

Here are some nuggets that I obtained from this chapter: 

When God gives specific instructions, don’t delay in following them. Elijah did not hesitate in obeying God.

Elisha was not seeking promotion or a position; God chose him to be Elijah’s successor in Israel. God does have an assignment for each of us.

Elisha was not an idle man; Elijah found him working. God is known for using the industrious. God promotes busy people.

Throwing one’s cloak on another represented a symbolic invitation to discipleship.

Having twelve yokes of oxen reveals Elisha came from a wealthy family; however, he was willing to give it up to do God’s bidding. Without knowing the details of his future assignment, Elisha left his husbandry.

Elisha showed his knowledge of authority when he requested permission from Elijah to go and tell his parents he was leaving them.

There is a proper way to leave home. Loving and respecting his parents, Elisha informs them of his departure.

Resolved to follow Elijah, Elisha takes the plowing instruments and uses them for fuel to cook two of his oxen which he gives to the town people as a celebratory farewell meal. For you to move on may require getting rid of personal equipment. If you burn it as Elisha did, you can’t go back and retrieve it.

Before fully embracing the role of a prophet Elisha submitted himself to another. Commentaries believe Elisha served Elijah for approximately ten years; during this time, he probably learned valuable lessons. God allowed Elisha to receive training before actually stepping into the position of a prophet. God prepares men for their assignments.

Elisha accepted his assignment without questioning the particulars. To serve requires self-denial. Elisha gave up his life to serve Elijah.

Finally, you must leave the past to go into the future; you must leave the familiar to go into the unknown and must leave the old to go into the new.

MEMBERSHIP IN THE HATED CLUB

What is the qualification for membership into the hated club, you might ask? The answer is loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. When you do this, you are quickly thrust into membership.

Most of us want to be loved and respected by the masses; however, Jesus took time to share with his followers that they would be hated by their parents, siblings, kinfolks, and friends (Matthew 10:22, Luke 21:16-17, Mark 13:12-13). Despite the words of Jesus, we act in denial of it. We, believers, fail to realize if we are faithful followers, we automatically have membership in The Hated Club.

In John 15:18- 24, Jesus shared information about this club to comfort his followers and give them knowledge and understanding of their future. These crucial points that He stated were relevant then and remain the same today.

  1. Jesus was the first to be hated in this association.
  2. The world loves those that are in alignment with them.
  3. Just as the world hated Jesus, it will hate you.
  4. Your chosen status causes you to be hated.
  5. Like the world persecuted Jesus, His chosen can expect a similar treatment of persecution.
  6. The world did not obey Jesus’ teachings, and they will not heed yours.
  7. The lack of knowledge and recognition of God caused the world to reject Him.
  8. Jesus’ coming and interaction with the world exposed their sins
  9. On earth, Jesus did what no other man had done; thus, the world had no excuse for sinning.
  10. When someone hates Christ, automatically, they are hating His Father.

In closing, please don’t feel hurt because you have membership in The Hated Club, for this club comes with blessings and eternal benefits, as recounted by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. He said, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).

TAKE A BREAK

Jesus was extremely busy doing His father’s work. He would get up in the early morning to pray, and then he would go about the cities and towns preaching, teaching, healing the sick, and casting out demons (Mark 1:32-35). Additionally, the Gospels informed us that Jesus healed all that came to Him, causing the crowds to follow him and the disciples wherever they went (Matthew 8:16, Luke 4:40-41).

Since Jesus and his disciples were humans, they needed time to rest from the demands of ministry. Realizing His disciples were exhausted, the scripture said in Mark 6: 31-32, “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. And they departed into a desert place by ship privately.” Similar to us, when we get busy and don’t stop to eat or rest, Jesus and His disciples had that same experience.

Fortunately, Jesus addressed the issue and showed us that taking a break was o.k. He understood life could be taxing: physically, mentally, and emotionally. Needless to say, in this chaotic stress-producing world in which we live, we all need to take a break. So, that is what I am going to do for the next several weeks. After that time, I will return to my weekly blogging. Until then, I pray all will be well with you, and if you haven’t done so, please take a break.

THE RAPTURE EXPERIENCE

During the lifetime of Jesus on earth, in the Jewish culture, a couple was considered married at the signing of their marriage contract, with the consummation and marriage feast planned as a future event. The intended groom would leave the bride and go to prepare a home for her, which was attached to his father’s house. After the home was completed and approved by his father, the father would send the groom to get his bride. Knowing His listeners were familiar with this wedding custom Jesus in His discourse of end-time events, used that fact in Matthew 24:36, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” He was telling the listeners He did not know when the rapture would happen; only His Father knew.

The word “rapture” is not found in the Bible; however, the dictionary defines it as transporting believers from earth to heaven at the Second Coming of Christ. Some commentaries believe the experience of John in Revelation 4:1, which states, “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter,” is a reflection of the believers being caught up into the heaven at the time of the rapture, and there are others that debate it.

Though 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 does not use the word rapture, what happens in those verses describes the dictionary definition of rapture. It states, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” According to what is written, Jesus descends from heaven with a shout, a soul-stirring cry of an archangel, and a trumpet call of God. Those believers that have died, wherever they were buried, will arise, and by the time they reach the earth’s surface, those alive believers will join them and ascend into heaven to be with our Lord Jesus.

What is fascinating to me is at that time, believers will pass through a material, whether it be metal, water, wood, soil, or rock. Additionally, since the Bible says we will be like Jesus, we will probably continue to do so throughout eternity.

Also, 1 Corinthians 15: 51-53 informs us that our body will become immortal and incorruptible. Those verses states, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” Thus, rapture believers will no longer die nor be corrupted by the sin nature, and all of this change takes place instantaneously.

I don’t know about you, but just thinking about this event excites me, and I am anxiously awaiting this rapture experience

THE HEALING MANDATE

At the beginning of man’s existence on earth, God instructed Adam and Eve to subdue and have dominion over everything on the earth. However, due to their disobedience which took place in the Garden of Eden, they forfeited their kingdom authority to Satan. When Jesus came to earth, He gave man abundant life and restored their lost authority.

Jesus was an example to His disciples during His ministry of delivering and healing the sick. Wanting them to follow His example, Matthew 10:1 states, “He gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.” Please notice before some physical healings took place, Jesus cast out the troubling spirits (Matthew 17:14-18; Luke 11:14; Luke 13:12-13).

Furthermore, before Jesus departed from His disciples, He told them in Mark 16:17a,18b, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” Since believers are His representatives and disciples on earth, we must follow His example. It is not necessary to be a minister to lay hands on the sick for believers qualify to do so. Every believer has been given power and authority, and all that is necessary is obedience to follow the instructions. When believers do their part, God can do His.

Finally, the Gospels and the book of Acts recorded how Jesus and his disciples administered healing. When they healed the sick, they did not pray over them but spoke to the people’s condition. From today on, start speaking to illnesses in your body and declare healing using the Word. Also, there are individuals whose recovery has been delayed because no one has spoken to their condition; they are waiting on you. Won’t you heed the mandate and follow the pattern of healing that leads to success?

 YOUR MOUTH AND HEART MUST BE ALIGNED

Mark 7:5-6 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

In the above scripture verses, Jesus addressed the religious leaders of His time who had come from Jerusalem to scrutinize His teachings and actions. In this encounter, they saw the disciples of Jesus eating bread without doing the traditional washing of hands, and they were appalled. They confronted Jesus with their accusation, and Jesus responded by rebuking them for their legalism

Since God inspired the Word, Jesus knew its’ genuine meaning, and He knew it was being misconstrued to suit men’s fancy and traditional customs. These religious leaders who wanted to appear holy and righteous by their words and actions in the sight of God and man fell short in obeying the Word of God to which Jesus exposed their failure.

Presently in our world, we witness the exact condemning nature by religious leaders and fellow believers. However, God, the righteous judge, wants more than men’s lip service. God honors obedience to all He has spoken, genuine praise and worship, and not empty words. Our lifestyle must be a godly reflection of what we say, and we cannot pick and choose what we want to follow. Finally, loving God with all of our heart, soul, and mind will align our mouth and heart, producing fruit pleasing to God.

THE GREATEST TWO COMMANDMENTS

Our greatest two commandments on earth entail love. First, we are to love God and, secondly, to love others.

In his farewell address, Moses gave this commandment from God to the new generation of Israelites. He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” This needed to be said because when God first gave the commandments to them in the wilderness, many of them had not been born. They did not hear when He told their forefathers He was a jealous God and that He did not want to share their love our devotion with other gods. Lest this new generation follows in the footsteps of the old and commits idolatry, they were cautioned not to by Moses.

Jesus reiterated this requirement in Matthew 22. He said to a lawyer questioning Him, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.“

If you read the Psalms, many of which were written by David, you would get the impression that it was right to pray for the downfall of your enemy. Additionally, if you were to follow in David’s footsteps, your prayers for those that opposed you would not adhere to the instructions of Jesus found in Matthew 5:44, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Furthermore, Jesus explains it is easy to love those that love you and treat you kindly; however, God requires more from believers. He wants believers to love everyone, for in so doing, all men will recognize them as His followers.

It is crucial to learn everything written in the Bible is factual; however, everything in it is not a pattern for believers to imitate. When you want to please God, look for examples of people loving Him and others. These are the individuals to emulate; when this is done, the greatest two commandments will be fulfilled in your life.

CALLED TO SERVE

Jesus had twelve disciples, and out of the twelve, three of them (Peter, John, and James) appeared to have a closer relationship with Him, and because of this, they witnessed some of Jesus’ greatest moments. The other disciples saw the closeness of these three to Jesus and were possibly envious. This may have sparked the debate over who would have the highest ranking position in Jesus’ kingdom. Though Jesus, during His earthly ministry, attempted to tell them numerous times that his earthly kingdom rule was not for the present but for the future, they did not grasp what He was saying. Thus, He admonished them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35). He informed them to think about humbly serving and not to serve to gain political-social status.

In God’s kingdom, a core principle is servanthood. By serving God and each other, we are modeling Jesus, for God sent his Son to earth to serve. The Word states, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Jesus served lovingly and willingly and made the ultimate sacrifice in servanthood. He served humanity by giving his life.  

Serving sometimes may take you out of your comfort zone. It may require you to go to places that are not up to your standard of living. It may require interacting with people whom we consider to be undesirable; nevertheless, in all of this, we are doing the will of the Father and promoting His kingdom

In a parable found in Matthew 25, Jesus shares the story of a man who gives money to three workers before going on a trip. When he returns home, he calls the workers to inquire what they did with the funds he gave them. Two of the workers increased the amount they received; thus, the man addressed them as, “good and faithful servants. “However, to the man who did nothing, he said, “Thou wicked and slothful servant.” Yes, God expects us to work and produce, He gives us gifts and talents, and He expects us to use them in serving and encouraging others. And ultimately, God wants believers to understand they are called to serve.

EVERYONE WILL LIVE IN ETERNITY, BUT WHERE?

Everyone born on this earth will one day live in eternity. The question is, where will they live? For everyone accountable, the choice is up to them. For others who are not, God will ultimately make that decision. As Joshua said in Joshua 24:15, “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Your decision will determine your where.

Believers who are raptured fate are sealed. They will enter into eternal bliss with Jesus; wherever He is, they will be. However, another group of individuals called “the dead” is seen in Revelation 20:11-15. It states, “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” From these verses, we gather all individuals, old and young, will come before Jesus at the white throne judgment. If their name is not recorded in the book of life, they will join the Antichrist, the false prophet, Satan, death, and hell in the lake of fire.

The lake of fire is only mentioned in the book of Revelation, and it is mentioned four times. It is a place of darkness, burning with brimstone, and continual torment, where occupants will weep and gnash their teeth (Mathew 8:12; 13:42, 50; Revelation 19:20; 20:10). This is an experience that never ends, for it is eternal.

Sadly, I believe most people don’t have a clear concept of eternity and the lake of fire, for if they did, their choices in life would be different. So, for those who understand these things, we must continually pray that people’s understanding will be enlightened and, with clarity, see the future God has called them to share in His kingdom.

UNDERSTANDING TOO LATE

In one of Jesus’s last discourses with his disciples concerning end-time events, he said these tragic words, “And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matthew 24:39). In this verse, He was describing what happened to the people who were outside of the ark during the flood.

Before the flood, the people were going about doing their daily activities. Once the rain started and did not stop, the warning and preaching of Noah made sense, but it was too late. The Bible informs us that Noah had preached to the people for one hundred and twenty years while building the ark that disaster was in their future. Sadly, the people did not listen or believe his message.

I am sure those individuals that could swim did so until their strength gave out. Those that thought there was a possibility of Noah opening the ark door were probably banging on it; however, God shut the ark’s door, and no one was allowed admittance. Except for those in the ark, all civilization died during the forty days of rain; because they understood too late.

This event serves as a warning to us. Right now, before the rapture, everyone has the opportunity to accept God and become a kingdom citizen. However, after the rapture, the seven years of tribulation occur with the outpouring of judgment on earth’s inhabitants. As revealed in Revelation, the judgments will be horrific; men will desire death and refuse to repent due to the hardness of their hearts (Revelation 9:6).

When the end of this life as we know it comes, and those whose names are not found in the book of life are cast into the lake of fire, they will understand, but it will be too late.