And the LORD said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:
And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.
And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.
Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.
So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed him, and cast his mantle upon him. I Kings 19:15-19;
Elijahís ministry was characterised by demonstration of great power of God. One of the remarkable exploits wrought through his ministry was the great conquest on Mount Carmel which led to utter destruction of over four hundred priests of Baal as a result of which the backslidden Israel were awakened to the worship of the true God. Shortly after this great feat however, it is surprising to see that Elijah was not able to stand the threat of death coming from that witch wife of Ahab Ė Jezebel. As against the courage he displayed during the great conflict with hundreds of priests and worshippers of Baal, Elijahís heart failed him for fear as he melted completely at the face of Jezebelís intimidation and death threats. He became so intimidated and discouraged that he prayed earnestly for death!
It is a pity that the ministry of Elijah came to an abrupt end; Elijah ended his ministry at a time God was indicating that there were yet more grounds to be conquered. The end that came to Elijahís ministry was not Godís perfect will or design, it was his own choice. Despite several attempt by God to get him back on track, Elijah was hell-bent on quitting and ending it all. He allowed frustration and intimidation from the enemies to dictate the end of his ministry. What a tragedy!
Following the sudden resignation of Elijah from the ministry, it became necessary for God to find a replacement. God needed to pass the mandate to specific men who would fulfil His counsels in that generation. One surest thing is that the failure of any man cannot frustrate or prevent the fulfilment of the program and purpose of God in any generation. Man may fail, but the program of God can never fail.
The instruction of God to Elijah on the men to be chosen was very clear and unambiguous: Hazael was to be anointed as King over Syria; Jehu the son of Nimshi was to be anointed as King over Israel and Elisha the son of Shaphat was to be anointed as Prophet. It is interesting to note that up to the moment the Lord indicated His choice of these three men, no mention had been previously made of them. It appears they were not that popular with men but not with heaven. Godís exploit men that are used greatly of God in every generation are men who are usually not popular or well known with men. They are men who have subjected themselves to the secret, quiet but rigorous preparation in the hands of the Almighty God and are patiently waiting for the time of their manifestation.
Another striking truth about the choice of these three men is that they were anointed at a time the offices to be occupied by them were not yet vacant. God asked Elijah to anoint them as kings and prophet despite the fact that the incumbents were still alive and occupying the offices. At that time, Benhadad was still the king of Syria; Ahab was the King of Israel and Elijah was the Prophet. Although the incumbents were still actively engaged and occupying their offices, but heaven seemed to have closed their chapters. As far as the Lord was concerned, they were not better than carcass waiting to be parked aside and buried; they have been discarded in the program of God. It is not impossible that a lot of people are actively engaged in the ministry today, but as far as heaven is concerned, their chapters have been closed as they no longer have relevance or mandate of God to represent Him or enforce His counsels here on earth. These men may be grossly engaged with activities and make so much noise, but their entire deeds amount to efforts in futility.
Further careful consideration of Godís instructions to Elijah also reveals that the men to be anointed were to work together as a team. The men were thousands of miles apart and were severally located in different nations and cities, yet, there seemed to be a divine string connecting them and their works together! For instance, at the time of their appointment by God, these men had never seen or known one another: Hazael was from Syria; Jehu from Samaria in Israel and Elisha was from Abelmeholah but they were all bonded by divine string to execute a common program despite their geographical, racial and social peculiarities and differences. The purpose of God to be established through Godís exploit men is one that cuts across racial and geographical boundaries and limitations. The Lord God is interested in team work which is the reason He brings men together from different nations, tribes, tongues and background to fulfil His purpose on earth. The end time church and servants of God must realise that no one can single-handedly execute or fulfil the purpose of God in this generation without working hand in hand with others whom the Lord had equally chosen and called.
In addition, the men were not meant to be in competition with one another. ĎAnd it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slayí. By this proclamation, the Lord seemed to be emphasising that the men were chosen to complement one anotherís efforts in the fulfilment of His counsels in their generations. God did not call anyone to be better than the other, He has called us all to find our place in His will and complement other Christian workers and ministers in the fulfilment of His purpose here on earth.
Godís instruction to Elijah to anoint both spiritual and political leaders also attests to the fact that Godís involvement and counsel is not limited to the spiritual matters alone. Godís counsels and divine program are not restricted to the church only but cut across political realm and all facets of human endeavours. This is the reason the Lord is earnestly in search of men who will establish His will and fulfil His counsels both in the church and our world. It is not surprising that the appointment of Elisha - spiritual leader, Jehu and Hazael Ė political leaders, was nestled together; their activities and operations were meant to complement one another in the fulfilment of Godís total purpose in that generation.
Besides, it is interesting to discover that at the time God indicated His choice of Elisha, it was confirmed that there were reserved in Israel seven thousand men who have neither kissed Baal nor worshiped it, but, is it not surprising that God did not choose any of the so called reserved men when he was in search of a man to whom He would commit the mandate for exploits? None of this multitude of men who were said to be reserved was found eligible in the program of God for that generation. It was Elisha, who was neither one of the sons of the Prophets nor part of the so called reserved men that God decided to choose in that generation. I wonder what those seven thousand men were being reserved for!
To have an insight into the lives and ministry of the seven thousand men who were said to be reserved in Israel in that generation, let us do a critical analysis of typical football players on reserved bench during a tournament:
Firstly, Players on reserved bench are necessarily not bad players; they may possess skill and technical know how required to perform brilliantly on the field of play, but for one reason or the other, they are not just taking part in the match. They are confined to the bench with all their skills and technical know how while their colleagues are sweating it out on the field of play during context for medals and mastery. In this end time, a lot of believers are like players confined to reserved bench; they have so much potentials and Godís grace stocked up in them but they are nowhere to be found on the field where exploits are being done for the Master. These are people who receive the grace of God in vain and have no justification for the investment of heaven upon their lives. They are liabilities to Godís kingdom; they have lost their place in the program of God; their lives are minus to God! What a shame!
Secondly, players are confined to reserved bench for various reasons: some are restricted to the reserved bench as a result of injuries. They have become unfit to feature on the field of play because of serious injuries they sustained. Of course no serious minded coach will want to risk victory by fielding players that have been injured and have not fully recovered from injuries, no matter how much he loves such players. The victory being contested for cannot be sacrificed on the altar of sentiments. So also is the Master - The Lord of the harvest, He cannot present on the field for exploits, believers and ministers who have sustained or have not fully recovered from injuries. Just as a player who has sustained injury may not add any value on the field, so also are believers who have been injured or are not fully recovered from injuries.
The ministries and lives of some servants of God and believers in this end time have indeed been battered and torn apart by injuries; so many ministers and believers have sustained serious injuries in their marriages, relationships, families and ministries. So many marriages, homes and ministries have crumbled and fallen apart as a result of adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism and all forms of sexual immorality and promiscuity. Serious injuries resulting from fraudulent acts, financial impropriety, compromise and hard drugs complexities have had far reaching effects and consequences on the destinies and callings of many people. Unless these injuries are properly treated and fully healed, such people may not be found eligible anymore to stand for the Lord on the field of harvest.
It must be emphasised that through the manifold mercies of God, there is hope for those who have sustained injuries in their ministries and callings at one time or the other if they will sincerely open up the rots and their wounds to the Lord for perfect healing by genuine repentance and restitution. In the loving arms of the Almighty Father, every broken piece of our lives can be fixed into a perfect whole again! However, we must allow Him deal with our ugly pasts rather than attempting to sweep them under the carpets. If we allow the Lord have His way, the healing balm from Him can bring speedy recovery and restoration.
Thirdly, players on reserved bench, since they are not actively engaged in the match, have enough time to cheer or criticise their colleagues who are really sweating it out on the field of play. The seven thousand men said to be reserved in Israel, like players on reserved bench, are not anything better than mere spectators whose sole engagement is to cheer or criticise those who are doing the real exploits. Many Christians in the end time church are satisfied sitting back on the reserved bench to criticise or merely cheer the few hands that are working for the Master on the field. Like typical spectators, they appear to understand Ďhow toí and Ďhow not toí but are never part of the game. They will rather sit back to criticise and complain about people and ministries but do nothing to further the course of Godís kingdom. These believers have no meaningful contributions to the fulfilment of the program of God for their generations; they can be considered as passers by and on lookers as far as Godís program is concerned.
In addition, players on reserved bench are usually waiting for a time that opportunity will come their way to feature on the field of play. In the process of waiting however, many of them usually end up not participating actively throughout the tournament and therefore lose out of the thrills and excitements associated with real playing on the field. Similarly, it appears that the reserved seven thousand men, who were by passed by God in His search for a man for exploits, were merely waiting for the Ďright timeí to be actively involved. So many believers in the end time church have no problem at all accepting that the Lord needs their involvement in missions and ministry, but their usual conclusion is Ďthe time has not yet comeí. So many Christians are rusting out and wasting away because they are ever waiting for the Ďright timeí. The scripture admonishes us to preach the word in season and out of season Ė This implies that we should not wait for opportunities to present themselves but we should rather create opportunities to further the course of Godís kingdom and program in our generation. Now is the time! The time is NOW!
Finally, Godís instructions to Elijah indicated that three men were to be anointed: Hazael, King over Syria; Jehu, King over Israel and Elisha as Prophet. But it is worthy of note that among these three men it was only Elisha that Elijah found! It is not on records that Elijah found Hazael and Jehu before his eventual translation. Elijah found Elisha because Elisha had been fully prepared, waiting to be discovered for great exploits. Discovery of Elisha was almost an immediate occurrence following Godís instruction to Elijah. This was so because Elisha was readily available to step into Godís program for his life while Jehu and Hazael were probably not through with the preparation process at that time. This became evident from the fact that they were not anointed until several years later by Elisha himself! The truth is that God will never approve of any man stepping into the divine mandate unless he has gone through and completed process of preparations, no matter how urgent the task may be! An unprepared vessel will frustrate the program of God rather than furthering it!
From the records, it appears that Elijah had already passed by Elisha before he got a nudge from the Holy Spirit that Elisha was the man the Lord wanted him to pass the mandate to. The day he found Elisha was probably the first time he was seeing him so it took Holy Spiritís divine assistance for him to recognise Godís choice. In the same way, Godís men of exploits are not self appointed; their calling is solely of God. Every one selected or appointed by men will certainly lack Godís divine mandate and will not prosper in His program and purpose. It is hi time we gave up human selection processes and methods that have been adopted by the church after the manner of the world. The errors resulting from our faulty and self-styled selection process are costing us a lot. We must be reminded that it is the Lord that gives the divine mandate to whosoever He wills.
In this generation, God is longing to pass the divine mandate to certain men through whom He will be able to establish His counsel and purpose on earth as He desires. These men however must be thoroughly prepared and furnished in such a way that they can fit into Godís program. The divine mandate being entrusted into the hands of these men of exploits is bound to lunch them into great manifestation and demonstration of His awesome and unlimited power in this end time. Of a truth Ďthe earnest expectations of the creation await the manifestation of the sons of Godí. You can be one of Godís choice men for the end time exploits. There is a place for you in His army. Amen