In 1 Kings 19, Elijah ran away to hide from Jezebel after she threatened him. After the Lord had strengthened and sustained him, he commanded him to anoint Hazael and Jehu as Kings over Syria and Israel. “And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place.” (1 Kings 19:16). As part of God’s succession planning, Elisha was to be anointed to continue after Elijah. Immediately after Elijah threw his mantle on Elisha, he sacrificed his oxen, cooked them and gave to the people and they ate. Elisha went after Elijah and became his assistant.
What amazes me is that when God told Elijah to anoint Elisha as prophet in his place, Elijah did not pour oil on Elisha’s head as was customary and decree a blessing over him. He did not speak over him saying, thus says the Lord, from henceforth, you are anointed to succeed me as prophet. All Elijah did was to throw his coat on Elisha, yet he knew exactly what it meant. The scripture says that Elisha was plowing with twelve pairs of oxen. This was twenty four oxen which suggests that he was ploughing a big farm. Regardless of how significant this job was, Elisha must have known what his calling was.
I believe that deep down inside, Elisha had a knowing and a conviction that he was called to be a prophet. Elisha must have had dreams, visions and knew that God had placed the gift of prophecy inside of him. He probably also knew that one day, Elijah would come to visit and this would signal his transition into the office of a prophet. After Elijah threw his coat on Elisha, he left his oxen and ran after him. He begged him to allow him to kiss his parents goodbye and then follow him. Elijah’s response was a strange one. “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” (1Kings 19:20).
Elisha took no notice of what Elijah said, but simply turned around, killed his oxen and followed Elijah. What do you need to dispose of in order to go after your calling and purpose? We know that Elisha followed Elijah until he was taken up into heaven. Elisha gained a double portion of the anointing that rested on Elijah as this was what he desired. None of us will live on this earth forever. None of us are made to occupy any positions until eternity. Assignments are for a season, a specific time and purpose. Once God determined that your assignment has come to an end, he will raise up someone else to carry on the work.
God will often identify your successor long before the end of your assignment, in order to allow for a smooth transition. In fact, God knows the end from the beginning and ordained things before creation. God loves order and for things to be done at the appropriate time and season. Leaders need to train another generation to follow after them and to guarantee succession planning. “Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity” (Titus 2:6-7).