One of the most beautiful facets of the Giver is their ability to retain their God-given sound in an unadulterated fashion when the culture around them does not support it. Elisha and Matthew are two classic examples of this.
Elijah was redemptive gift of Prophet. His trademark was his crusty personality and his brand was fire.
I find it quite tragic that he was so antisocial that on his good-bye tour, not one single one of his spiritual sons in the prophetic schools were able to come up to him and say, “Thanks, Dad, for your investment in me.”
By contrast, Elisha was a Giver and his trademark was his extreme accessibility, and his brand was water miracles.
On the final tour with Elijah, the guys kept coming up to Elisha to discuss the impending departure of the Boss. He was not only user friendly with the prophets he had walked with for a long time, but as soon as he got back from Elijah’s transition, the leaders of Jericho came to him asking for his help in resolving the water issues. Even though the school of prophets had been there for a while, and the water problem had been endemic, no one had come to Elijah asking for relief.
Over the years of his life, he ministered to the rich and the destitute, to Israelites and Gentiles, to the religious and the apathetic. And he did no miracles with fire and plenty with water. That was his brand.
As personalities go, Elijah redefined command presence. And Elisha walked with him in intimate service for years. While he overtly asked for and received Elijah’s mantle – in fact a double portion of it – he did not lose his own sound.
Elijah dispensed death in half of his eight miracles, killing at least 950 people and prophesying the brutal death of others.
For Elisha, only two of his sixteen miracles were deadly. Even when dealing with enemy soldiers, Elisha was kind in one of his encounters, feeding a whole army of POWs lunch before releasing them to go home.
This is the sound he received from God – life giver extraordinaire. And a vigorous mentorship under a systemically cranky porcupine did not alter his sound.
Matthew had the same tenacity. Jesus and the first four apostles were all entrepreneurs and understood the world through the grid of the marketplace. There is a sizable gap between those who are self-employed and all other sectors of the culture.
Into this setting, where the Boss and the most dominant members of the team were all entrepreneurs, with all of the perspective and biases of that tribe, comes Matthew – the absolute nemesis of the businessman.
It would be an odd couple indeed if a tax collector and a businessman became best buddies, but here Matthew was in this enclave of entrepreneurship.
At the end of the season with Jesus, Matthew reverted to his core design which was to see the world through the grid of government, not business. He was selected to be the author of the gospel which presented Jesus as the King.
Since the name that is above every name is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, God placed this gospel at the very beginning of the New Testament. If people are only going to read one thing about Jesus, it should be His Kingship.
And that message simply could not be presented by an entrepreneur. It had to be spoken out by a government man who lived and breathed that grid for the culture he lived in.
Jesus was so certain that Matthew could keep his own sound and fulfill his majestic calling, that He had no fear of surrounding Matthew with a vigorously different worldview for three intense years.
He knew He could count on the Giver to retain his own sound, and to express it majestically for all of human history with unparalleled excellence.
Copyright April 2016 by Arthur Burk
From the Hub, contentedly back after the marathon