Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
All of our readings for today deal with the divine calls of a prophet or an apostle, the preachers of the Word of God. However, there is also application to all of us who are the church.
I want to focus on the Old Testament reading and the call of the prophet Elisha. But it is not only the story of Elisha, also of Elijah, one of the greatest prophets in the Old Testament. Both the prophets and the apostles received their divine calls and the Word directly from God. As the letter to the Hebrews says, God spoke to the prophets in various ways, but with us and the apostles through his Son, Jesus Christ. The prophets pointed to the coming of Jesus Christ, while the apostles taught what Christ taught them. In their written testimony inspired by the Holy Spirit we have everything we need to know about Christ for eternal life. Therefore, we do not need another revelation or doctrine. We preachers today must preach only that it is written in the Holy Scriptures.
Well, then, the Lord has not called all Christians to leave their families, friends, and work to preach the Word to the ends of the earth. The ministers of the church, yes, as we read in the Elisha story. “And he departing from there found Elisha the son of Shaphat, plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him; and he had the last one. And when Elijah passed before him, he cast his cloak over him. Then he, leaving the oxen, came running after Elijah, and said: Please let me kiss my father and mother, and then I will follow you. And he said to him: Go, come back; What have I done to you? And he turned from following him, and took a pair of oxen, and killed them, and with the plow of the oxen he cooked their meat, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he got up and went after Elijah, and served him. ”
We read thus in our gospel (Luke 5: 1-11): "And Jesus said to Simon," Do not be afraid; from now on you will fish for men. And when they brought the boats ashore, leaving everything, they followed him. "
However, most of us can bear witness to Christ in the vocations in which the Lord has placed us, among our neighbors, families and coworkers. But, for all followers of Christ, their way is the way to the cross. Jesus began his public ministry, with his baptism by John the Baptist, with the purpose of dying on the cross in our places and freeing us from the power of sin, the devil and death.
Our path is not as difficult as the path of our Lord. Even Jesus, in the garden of Gethsemane, asked his Father if the cup of suffering and death on the cross could pass from him, if possible. But, our way is the way to death before our resurrection. If we walk with Christ, we will be more blessed in this life than those who reject him, but it may not seem that way.
We see the example of Elijah. “And behold, a voice came to him, saying, What are you doing here, Elijah? And he answered: I have been very zealous for Jehovah God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant, have cast down your altars, and have slain your prophets with the sword; and only I have stayed, and they look for me to take my life. ”
After the glory days of Israel under King David and Solomon, the kingdom was divided into the northern kingdom, Israel, and the southern kingdom, Judah. Some of the kings of Judah were faithful to the Word of the Lord, but none of the kings of Israel. There was a lot of idolatry and evil in Israel, starting from above with the kings. But, God sent the prophets to Israel, like Elijah, to call people to repentance and faith in the true God. And God showed his power through Elijah. First, with the prophecy of a long-standing drought as punishment for the people, and so it was. Then Elijah challenged the priests of the Canaanite god, Baal, to raise altars, one for Elijah's God and the others for Baal. He said to Elijah, we are going to sacrifice oxen as burnt offerings, but we are waiting for the fire from heaven. When Elijah raised his altar, he also dug a moat around the altar and filled it with water. Baal did not answer the prayers of his priests with fire from heaven, but Jehovah answered Elijah's prayers with fire that consumed the water in the moat.
But, the story did not end with this victory. In our text for today, after all these things, Elijah was a fugitive and he was very tired and discouraged.
“And he said to him, Go out, and stand on the mountain before Jehovah. And behold, the Lord was passing by, and a great and mighty wind breaking the mountains, and breaking the rocks before the Lord; but Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake; but Jehovah was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire; but Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire a soft and delicate voice. ”
And the Lord said to him: “Go, go back your way, through the desert of Damascus: and you will come, and you will anoint Hazael as king of Syria; And you shall anoint Jehu the son of Nimsi as king over Israel; and you will anoint Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-mehola to be a prophet in your place. And it will be, that the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill him; and whoever escapes from Jehu's sword, Elisha will kill him. But I have brought to Israel seven thousand, whose knees did not bow before Baal, and whose mouths did not kiss him. ”
And Elijah did it. A short time later, the Lord took Elijah to heaven in a fiery chariot with fiery horses and left Elisha to continue the Lord's work. Because the Lord always raises up workers for his field, which is a relief for us preachers, because not everything depends on us, but on the Holy Spirit. All of us in the church should not trust in our own strength, but in the Spirit that is active in the proclamation of the Word.
And as the Lord showed Elijah, the Spirit does not come in manifestations of power, like a storm, an earthquake, or a fire, but as a gentle and delicate whistle that touches the heart. God has all the power, but he does not want to win souls by threat or pride. So the pastoral office of the church is not the path to fame and wealth. Also, for the faithful, the marks of God's favor or the presence of the Holy Spirit is not prosperity or miracles of healing, but the gospel in its purity.
We trust in the Word of God and in this trust we continue to proclaim and bear witness to the love and grace of God. In this, we have the peace that passes all understanding. Amen.
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