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Burn the Plow

In 1 Kings, chapter 19, we see the beginning of the transfer of prophetic personalities from Elijah to Elisha, and late in the chapter Elisha leaves his oxen and plow and becomes Elijah’s servant. Specifically, Elisha slaughters his oxen and burns his plow to cook the sacrifice. Here is verse 21:

So Elisha turned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen and slaughtered them and boiled their flesh, using the oxen’s equipment, and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and followed Elijah, and became his servant.

1 Kings 19:21

Why did Elisha essentially destroy what would have been his expensive equipment in following Elijah? An apparent answer can be found in the New Testament, in Luke 9, where Jesus is discussing the potential actions of a would-be follower (interestingly, Elijah is mentioned several times earlier in this chapter):

But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:62

What is meant by this?

Jesus is saying that once you follow Him, you must abandon the things of your past and previous life and focus on him. This is not referring to every single thing, of course, but we are to proceed on a new course after we begin to follow Jesus.

One final verse to consider is that of Genesis 19. In the lead-up, Lot is told to get out of Sodom before God can destroy the city. And in His instructions for getting out of there, God says not to look back at the city. Lot’s wife does look back, and here’s what happens:

But his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

Genesis 19:26

But why? Why did she die an odd death of becoming a pillar of salt? It goes back to burning the plow… to what Jesus said in Luke. Once you start forward with God and begin a walk with Him, don’t turn back to your life of sin. And that’s what Lot’s wife did; she turned back to look at Sodom. In examining the phrase looked back in the original Hebrew, it appears that she did so longingly and more than a simple glance back at the destruction. In either case, she did explicitly what God said not to do, and she paid the price for it. 

Once you give your life to Christ, strive forward with Him, in His precepts and ways and leave the worldly ways behind. Don’t be the, ‘dog that returns to its own vomit’ (2 Peter 2:22).

As a side note, I’ve had discussions with others and individual thoughts about whether or not Lot’s wife is in Heaven. In short, I think she is. My reasoning is simply based on the meaning of the words pillar and salt. Check out their meanings in the original language… both have positive, Godly attributes that lead me to believe she followed God as Lot did, but made a mistake that cost her her life. Perhaps she committed a ‘sin unto death’ that’s mentioned in 1 John 5:16.