Burn Your Bridges
Mar 29, 2021 1914
The ancient Romans armies were the toughest of the tough. That’s why Roman commanders were known to burn the bridges behind the legions, so that there could be no retreat. There was nothing worse than being trapped with water at your back. The army knew that it had to fight, and it had to win. There was no fall-back position.
In the Bible, the prophet Elisha did something similar right at the beginning of his ministry. Elisha was working on the family farm, ploughing with twelve pairs of oxen, when Elijah came by and called him to become his prophetic apprentice. Elisha left the oxen where they were and ran after Elijah and asked to let him say goodbye to his mother and father. But Elijah replied and effectively told him that if he went back he could have nothing to do with him.
Elisha understood that what Elijah was telling him was that he had to burn his bridges. Elisha did go back. He killed his oxen, and he cut up his wooden ploughing equipment. Then he cooked their meat using the wood and shared it with his neighbours. There was no better way for Elisha to let everyone know that he had made his choice. There would be no going back, because there was nothing to go back to. His future lay only in serving God. You can read the story in 1 Kings 19:19-21.
Have you heard the saying, “Don’t burn your bridges”? Well, the Bible says to do it.
When you choose to serve God, it has to be a 100% commitment. God warns you not to try to keep a foot in the world and another foot in the Kingdom of God. He warns you not to look back, because he knows how easy it is to slip back into your life of the past, and abandon the good choice that you made to follow him.
…No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62, NIV).
Jesus has other similarly “hard” sayings, about people who wish to follow him must not go back and say good-bye to their family, or go back to bury their father (Luke 9:57-61). People read these in the Bible and consider that Jesus is being entirely unreasonable, and even harsh and cruel. But that’s not what Jesus meant in these sayings.
He was talking to people who wanted to commit to him – but not fully. A relationship with Jesus is like skydiving with a parachute. It doesn’t work unless you commit fully to jumping out of the airplane. Jesus was just emphasising, using hyperbole, that your commitment to him must be complete.
God burnt his bridges for you.
For a relationship with Jesus to be a saving one, it must be like that. God committed everything to your salvation, and you must commit everything to him. This is how God has loved you:
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Rom 8:32, NIV).
Christ’s cry of abandonment (Matt 27:46) tells us how far he went to save you and to bring you back into the family of God. It was all or nothing. God burnt his bridges for you. That’s how desperate your situation was, and that’s how desperate he was to save you.
That’s why God asks you to allow him into your life: to burn your bridges and to not look back.