The Prophet Elijah

The Prophet Elijah

Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, is a Prophet who appears in both the Old and New Testament.He pleased God by his life and his deeds.Most of his work is recorded in the Book of Kings.We celebrate his day on 20th July each year.

Elijah did not experience death as we know it.He was taken up to heaven by "chariots of fire and horses of fire " in a whirlwind in front of the eyes of his disciple Elisha.This is recorded in 2 Kings 2 1-18.

During the reign of King Ahab,son of Omri, the Israelites annoyed God by worshipping the Baal.Ahab built a temple to Baal in Samaria and worshipped the idol there. He did more to provoke the Lord God than all the kings of Israel before him. Elijah spoke to Ahab and swore by the life of the Lord that "there shall be neither dew nor rain these coming years unless I give the word."

Elijah then left and went into hiding in the ravine of Kerith east of Jordan where he drank from the stream and was fed by the ravens as God had told him to do. The ravens brought him bread and meat daily.After a while the stream dried up and God commanded Elijah to go to Zarephath where he would find a widow who would feed him. This he did. He met the widow and he asked her for some water. As she was on her way to bring this, he asked her for some bread as well. She replied that she had no food to sustain her and her son except for a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a flask. Elijah told her not to worry and instructed her to make him a cake from what she had.He then told her to make something for her and her son.The word of the Lord was that "the jar of flour shall not give out,nor the flask of oil fail,until the Lord sends rain on the land."
She did as she was told and they had food for a long time.Her son became ill after a while, and when he died the distraught widow blamed Elijah for bringing her sins to light and for killing her son. Elijah took him up to his room and laid him on his bed. He called out to the Lord for help and breathed upon the child three times deeply.
"O Lord,my God, let the breath of life ,I pray return to the body of this child" The child was raised from the dead and taken down to his mother.When she saw this she said, "Now I know for certain that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord on your lips is truth." 1 Kings 17 1-24

Time went by and after three years without rain,the word of God came to Elijah. He was told to go and show himself to Ahab and rain would fall again on the land.Elijah confronted Ahab and told him to meet him on Mount Carmel with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of the goddess Asherath.They all met there and Elijah ordered them to bring two bulls as an offering. He would prepare one and the false prophets the other. They would lay them on the wood without setting fire to it.They would then invoke their false god and Elijah would invoke the Lord to rain fire on the offerings. The god who responded would be the true god. The false prophets of Baal invoked Baal from morning to noon without response.Elijah mocked them to call louder in case their god was "deep in thought ,or engaged, or on a journey" or asleep. They cried louder and gashed themselves with swords and spears until the blood ran.All afternoon they raved until the hour of sacrifice but without response.Soon it was Elijah's turn:
"Lord God of Abraham,of Isaac, and of Israel,let it be known today that thou art God in Israel and that I am thy servant and have done all these things at thy command."
Fire fell and consumed the offering. The people fell prostrate. Elijah ordered them to seize the false prophets .They were taken down to the Kishon valley and slaughtered. Elijah then climbed to the crest of Mount Carmel and prayed for rain. It came.
Ahab told his wife Jezebal all that Elijah had done,how he had put all the prophets to death.She swore to kill Elijah.Elijah was afraid and fled into the wilderness of Judah,content to die.He fell asleep by a bush and an Angel of the Lord came to him."Rise and eat" he told him, and by his head there was a cake and some water.Elijah did this and lay down again. The Angel came again and told him to eat more as his journey would be long.He did this and sustained by this food, he journeyed for 40 days and forty nights to Mount Horeb where he entered a cave and spent the night there.The Lord came to Elijah and told him to go and stand on the Mount as He,the Lord God,was passing by. A great and strong wind came by, shattering rocks and rending mountains but the Lord was not there.After the wind there was a great earthquake but the Lord was not there.Then there was fire but the Lord was not there.Then a low murmouring sound.It was the Lord. He told Elijah to go to Damascus and annoint Hazael to be King of Aram,annoint Jehu son of Nimshi to be King of Israel and Elisha son of Shaphat to be prophet "in your place." Anyone who escapes the sword of Hazael,Jehu will slay and anyone who escapes Jehu,Elisha will slay.The Lord also said "I will leave seven thousand in Israel,all who have not bent the knee to Baal,all whose lips have not kissed him"

Elijah did as he was told.He then pronounced the Lords judgement on Ahab and he died in battle.

Elijah is also mentioned in the New Testament. At the Lords Transfiguration he is seen talking with the Lord and Moses (Matthew 17 1-8) He is also mentioned in Luke 1, 17 as a man who will prepare a people fit for the Lord when a comparison is made between him and John the Baptist.


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Last published: :20/2/05
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