New on the Menu: Oxen–Freaky Friday

ox

I have to admit oxen would never be the first thing I would choose on a menu. Although I’m sure it’s probably pretty tasty– most recipes call for using it like beef. Since I already like beef, and it’s considerably less expensive, that’s what I’m sticking with for now.

That said, what if all you had was ox meat? Like, say, Elisha did.

In I Kings 19:19-21, we find the account of the prophet Elijah offering a call to follow him to the young man, Elisha. (I always remember which comes first by alphabetizing their names!)

Elijah found Elisha out in the field plowing with 12 yoke of oxen, driving the 12th pair himself. Elijah went up and threw his cloak around Elisha symbolizing that Elisha would succeed Elijah as the next prophet of God.

The Bible tells us that Elisha then ran after Elijah asking to tell his parents goodbye. Elijah grants him permission and then not only does Elisha tell them goodbye, he makes it more than obvious that he understands the call means he is not coming back.

You see, Elisha took that yoke of oxen and prepared them for a meal–and I’m not talkin’ about the oxen eating supper here! It was curtains for the oxen and the plow as well. Elisha burned the yoke and the plow, cooked the oxen on the fire and gave the meat to the people to eat. The he set out to follow Elijah and become his attendant.

O.K.

That’s one extreme going away party. Yet, I’m continually moved by Elisha‘s understanding of what it means to follow God–the willingness, no, it’s more than just being willing–the actual leaving of everything to follow God.

Elisha didn’t just talk about it. Elisha didn’t say, “God, wants us to be willing to leave it all, but He doesn’t really expect us to.” Elisha didn’t say, “See ya at Christmas, mom.” (Well, okay, Christmas didn’t exist yet, but you know what I mean.)

Elisha left it all to follow Elijah which meant Elisha left it all to follow God. No turning back. No turning back.

And as a result, Elisha experienced the power and moving of God like few other men in the history of the world.

Elisha gave it all to God. God gave it all to Elisha. So today, like everyday I read the account of “Grilling Oxen with Elisha,” I find myself asking, “Have I left everything to follow God?” and I’m reminded of that simple yet powerful song:

“I have decided to follow Jesus.
I have decided to follow Jesus.
I have decided to follow Jesus.
No turning back. No turning back.”

And it is my desire to leave everything on the table–so to speak–in order to know, follow and serve God.

How ’bout you? Is today the day you are being called to follow Jesus? If you’d like to know more about what it means to follow Jesus completely, I’d love to help. Feel free to contact me or leave a post.

In the meantime, I have a strong urge to go do some grilling.

oxen1

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All Fired Up!–Freaky Friday

fire

We have a saying when it comes to planning events with kids that goes something like this, “You can plan just about anything and as long as you include fire or water, they are going to love it.”

I just spent this past week teaching at our local church camp–one of my absolute favorite things to do!! Teaching through the Old Testament, I couldn’t help but notice how many of the greatest Bible stories include those two elements.

This afternoon when I returned home, I opened my Bible to the book of 2 Kings and saw a story I somehow never took much notice of before and decided it was definitely worthy of a Freaky Friday post.

It seems that after Ahab died, his son Ahaziah took the reigns. Apparently he had seriously injured himself falling through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria. (Which made me really glad my husband held off on replacing our lattice until I got home from camp).

Anyhow, he sent messengers to inquire of the false god, Baal-Zebub, as to whether or not he would recover. Silly king. He had to know that would get God a bit fired up. I mean after all, commandments one and two are pretty hard to misinterpret.

As God got word of the king’s decision to inquire of the wrong god, He sent Elijah to meet the king’s messengers and ask them this simple question, “Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going off to consult Baal-Zebub?”

Fair question. Seriously, why in the world was the King of Israel consulting a false god? Hmmm, well, that’s another blog post.

Besides, God knows the answer to his question–it’s Him for goodness sake! So He leaves the message, “Ahaziah, you will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!”

Elijah delivers God’s message to the messengers, and the messengers deliver Elijah’s message to the king, and it doesn’t take long before the king has gotten the message that God is a bit fired up! (Actually he has no idea how fired up He is, but he soon will.)

Apparently the king was a bit fired up himself, because he sent a captain with his company of fifty men up to meet Elijah declaring, “Man of God, the king says, ‘Come down!'”

. . . Someone has forgotten who the real king is. . . . and that Elijah answers first to the king of kings.

Elijah answers back with, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.” As if there was any doubt Elijah was a man of God, fire came down from heaven and consumed the captain and his fifty men! WoooHooo!! Fired up!

Somehow the king got word of this–although it couldn’t have been from the fifty men now could it have?–and he sends another captain and another fifty men. They also declare, “Man of God, this is what the king says, ‘Come down at once.'”

And Elijah replies again, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men.” And, yeppers, fire came down from heaven and consumed those men!

So the king sends another captain and another fifty men. Only this third captain is just a little wiser and declares, well, pleads, “Man of God, please have respect for my life and the lives of these fifty men, your servants. The fire came down and consumed the others, but please now have respect for my life.”

At this, God spares their lives and instructs Elijah to go and have a chat with the king, where He asks the king God’s question, “Is it because there is no God in Israel for you to consult that you sent messengers to consult Baal-Zebub?”

Giving the king no time to answer Elijah adds, “Because you have done this, you will never leave this bed you are lying on. You will certainly die.”

So he died. Just like God said he would. The End.

Kind of. Well, the end of King Ahaziah anyway, and 100 soldiers and two captains.

Freaky as it sounds, they shouldn’t have been surprised. They had entered into covenant agreements with God to follow him. They knew that breaking the covenant meant death. Ahaziah should have known before he sent out the first company of soldiers that he was wrong and God was giving him a chance to repent and if he would repent, God would relent.

But instead, he chose rebellion. He chose pride. He chose to reject God, forgetting that God’s wrath would be fired up against him and those who served him. Not only did he fall from the lattice, he fell from grace, and the love of Jehovah God “fired up” with passion to restore him had he only been willing to accept it.