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875-848 BC

The name Elijah means 'My God is Yahweh'. Elijah was an influential and a most effective prophet of ancient Israel who lived 900 years before the birth of Christ. His life and beliefs emphasised the commitment and loyalty required of the people towards God, regarding their covenant with Him.

As one of the mightiest of the prophets of Israel, Elijah was a reformer, a rebuker of kings, a mighty intercessor who was divinely provided with food and water, and was divinely honoured at the time of his departure from this world. Renowned to be a performer of supernatural signs, he obeyed and trusted God.

Elijah was a leader during the time of the divided Kingdoms of Northern and Southern Israel after the death of King Solomon. He opposed the accepted standards of living; he had cave-dwelling habits with a strange dress code and appearance. Elijah wore a cloak of camel hair just tied at the waist with a simple leather belt. This apparel discipline contrasted sharply with the fine linen of his wealthy associates and was a composed protest by Elijah against the materialistic attitude of the elite as well as those who belonged to the Israeli Royal Court. Elijah's rugged figure became the model for the ideal reformer.

King Ahab of Israel was baneful, selfish and a spoilt man who lusted after the wealth and riches of the world. His reputation is that of Israel's most wicked King. Evil became progressively worse after his marriage to Jezebel, the daughter of the pagan Priest-King of Tyre. She ruled King Ahab's affairs, especially spiritually. She instituted severe persecution against those who chose to worship God and she had most of God's prophet's killed by the sword. Ahab decided to allow the spiritual worship of Almighty God together with his wife's pagan religious spirits represented by sacred stone pillars.

Elijah spoke for God against the worship of pagan religious idols, for Israel as a nation had widespread idolatry. The people had violated God's covenant; they neither listened to His commands nor carried them out. Social injustice and corruption was prevalent. The unfaithfulness to God was rife and spiritual adultery strongly established having been adapted from many pagan sources within the neighbouring countries.

The obedient prophet was sent by God as His representative to vigorously oppose by word and action pagan worship and those who participated in devout gentile rites and followed the false beliefs. Elijah served Israel's Great King, The Lord God Almighty. All the Kings in the north had failed in leading Israel in the way of faithfulness to God for the people to receive His covenantal care and blessing.

Prophets who spoke for God were also speakers and political activists as God's Covenant religious and civil rites were their way of life. A prophet has God's insight where His values are concerned with justice and freedom and that God is on the side of those who are unreasonably oppressed. God's spokesperson is the conscience of the nation. A true prophet of God is a person who speaks and tells His Truth. A false prophet tells people what they want to hear.

Elijah understood there was to be no mixture of idol worship with The One True Living God. A pure form of sacred worship had to be preserved. God had commanded His covenant people not to worship any other spirit, or to bow down and sacrifice to them in any way, serving them as a god. Only He, The Creator of All was to be worshipped and His ordinances, decrees, His commands to be obeyed, for only He could deliver the people from all their enemies.

Elijah was known as the Tishbite from Gilead east of the Jordan. He was regarded as an uncivilised man, a rugged outdoor type character from the backwaters of the Kingdom of Israel, a quiet, peaceful country place away from the crowds of impressive fashion and comparable habits, yet it was this man that God had chosen to serve as a witness against the people.

God flashed fire, rain and drought from the sky for Elijah during his ministry. Elijah decided to carry out his mission from God alone and experienced extreme isolation. Other local prophets of God thought The Spirit of the Lord would at times pick him up and translate him down elsewhere, for he was a loner and not often seen. He was also a man prone to discouragement.

Israel's Political and Spiritual Leaders, including the majority of people refused to listen to Elijah and persisted in their evil practices of idolatry which included divination, sorcery and worship of the stars and moon (astrology and horoscopes).

God told Elijah to predict a famine, which was the consequence of the building of a pagan Temple desired by the King's wife, Jezebel. During the drought Elijah himself was kept alive by extraordinary means. Miraculously he was fed by ravens, a widow and later after the drought, by an angel.

God commanded the ravens to feed Elijah bread and meat morning and evening while he was hiding in the east by a brook, until it dried up. God then sent Elijah to Zarepath in Phoenicia to reside in the coastal town between Tyre and Sidon, the land from which the pagan worship had come where a widow and her son gave him lodging. The widow responded in belief as she gave Elijah her last portion of flour and oil, for which in return she received an unending supply to keep her alive during the famine.

God graciously through Elijah restored her son to life when he died. Elijah lay on top of the boy and prayed for his spirit to return, a supernatural event to which God obliged, proving to the woman that He Himself was real. The widow was a non-Israelite; God's mercy granted the life of her son who was the only hope for a widow in ancient society. Her confession of God's Word being true and reliable was what the Israelites failed to admit.

The famine that lasted three years had been divine judgement and a demonstration against the pagan god of harvest fertility and the pagan lord of the clouds that were powerless to produce rain. This proved the people could only be dependent upon God, The Creator.

God instructed Elijah to challenge the 850 pagan prophets to a contest at Mount Carmel, each group offering sacrifices without building a fire through which God would reveal Himself to the people who gathered there as The True God. From early morning till noon the pagan prophets chanted, and danced. Midday passed and they continued till early evening, inflicting wounds upon their bodies causing blood to flow. This was a desperate attempt and an extreme method of trying to get the attention of their pagan god to which came no response. The pagan prophets failed to evoke a reply.

Elijah then poured water over his sacrifice to remove the possibility of any fraud or false misunderstanding. He prayed briefly to God and the sacrifice was consumed by fire from heaven. God's power was used to show the people that their Covenant God for whom Elijah spoke, was The True Living God. The crowd fell to their faces upon the ground admitting this truth about God. Besides the fact that they confessed the authority of God, the people also sided with Elijah and responded strongly by killing the 850 pagan prophets.

God gave Elijah divine power as he out-ran King Ahab's chariot from Mount Carmel to the City gates after His prophet's demonstration of faith and prayer as rain fell to end the three year famine midst a terrible storm.

However, afraid for his own life, Elijah fled to the mountain of Sinai where Moses had previously received from God the Ten Commandments, plus Israel's religious and civil laws 500 years earlier. Elijah went to Mount Sinai for the purpose of wanting to call on God to use power to punish the people.

During his trip, Elijah experienced discouragement and exhaustion; the depths of fatigue as set in after great spiritual victories. This great prophet struggled with his personal emotions even though he was one of the most famous and dramatic of God's spokespersons. God made sure His prophet rested and supernaturally provided for him food and drink prepared by an angel which sustained him for 40 days and nights. Elijah depended upon God's enablement while he was being prepared for a new mission from God.

On the mountain God revealed Himself to Elijah and taught him that His divine presence does not lie in the demonstration of power alone but also in the softly spoken Word, and the prophet's ministry stayed more to the prophetic Word of God than relying on supernatural acts, although this power was necessary at times. He realised God doesn't always reveal Himself in powerful demonstrative ways. Elijah learnt that God was always there for him even though he felt alone.

Elijah was instructed to carry out three commands, to anoint the future Syrian King, to anoint a future King of Israel, Jehu, who was to destroy the pagan Temple, as well as anoint the new prophet who would take his own place as the spiritual prophetic servant to Israel, a farmer called Elisha. These God-given charges impacted the future of the nation.

Both the royalty of Israel and the majority of the people continued with gentile practices despite the fact they were warned that calamity would come to the nation and stayed unrepentant except for the wicked King Ahab, who became convicted of guilt about the murder and theft of Naboth's vineyard that violated Covenant Heritage Laws. His humbleness before God delayed the doom soon to come to Israel. Unfortunately Ahab's repentance was temporary.

When the new King of Israel fell from his upper room and injured himself, he sent for gentile priests for consultation but received an answer concerning his death from Elijah. Two soldier detachments were sent to capture Elijah, both times they were consumed by fire from heaven called down by Elijah because they questioned his authority from God by trying to place Elijah under the law and supremacy of the King which was a violation of the nation's Kingship Covenant Law with God. The third group asked for mercy of Elijah and an angel of God directed Elijah to go with the soldiers to the King to whom Elijah confirmed the fact of the new King would die as a result of the injury from the fall.

Towards the end of his life, he was accompanied by his successor Elisha and they visited groups of prophet schools, as God instructed. The prophet schools were religious companies of prophets that rose up against apostasy and as well as the lukewarm indifference to God. Those groups edified each other. God's great prophets were their spiritual mentors.

God called prophets to rescue Israel from moral and spiritual decline. Elisha was to work in Israel, the Northern Kingdom to help guide the people back to God. His desire was to carry on with the ministry of Elijah; to be able to accomplish more for God made him eager for a double portion of his mentor's anointing. This issue that arose was from the inheritance law assigned to the first born son, which Elijah wanted to offer to his successor, even though the issue would be decided by the Sovereign God.

In the company of his spiritual inheritor, Elisha, Elijah left the Promised Land parting the River Jordan they walked to the east across on dry ground. A reversal of the entry into The Promised Land by Israel hundreds of years before with Joshua, was also by the parting of the River Jordan.

As they both were walking along, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses appeared and separated the two men and Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elijah was granted a special blessing of honour at the moment of his departure from this life. He ascended into heaven in a whirlwind. The chariots and horsemen of Israel is a symbol and confession of whom was the true strength of the nation. God's prophet was Israel's strength far greater that the King and his large chariot army.

The prophet Elijah did not die but was bodily carried to heaven; this also happened previously to Enoch, seventh from Adam, another servant of God. Elisha was a witness to the event and his desire for double Elijah's anointing was granted because of his pure motives.

Elijah's coat had fallen; Elisha picked it up, which was a sign of confirmation to the other prophets that his new position had begun. He divided the Jordan River and returned once more inside the nation to fulfil the plans God had for his life.

The miracles in Elijah's life are the most vivid aspect of his life. Miracles usually represent times that call people to a decisive moment in their lives they are faced with whether to agree with the Truth of God or go against it. Elijah challenged the people of Israel with this decision at Mount Carmel.

Elijah was a messenger of God and as such was against the mainstream of opinion. He brought challenging Words from God for the people to be changed dramatically, calling for obedience to the Covenant of Law that had been made between God and the nation of Israel.

Elijah and Elisha played very prominent prophetic roles in the work of reform in the Northern Kingdom and in judgements upon the Northern Kingdom from within and without the realm.

All the prophecies of Elijah from God came true. Prophecies need the power of The Living God to fulfil them. Elijah prophesied future deeds that did come to pass and were fulfilled according to God's Word. Other minor prophets followed up Elijah's prophecies of judgement over the following years.

The Israelites themselves were lukewarm and indifferent towards God during Elijah's ministry despite the awesome miracles wrought by the Hand of God. God continued to respond to the people's lukewarmness with action.

Elijah's obligation to the people was also to preach of repentance at a time of national apostasy. Elijah's ministry of repentance, renewal and restoration was also confrontational, and such was the mission of John The Baptist who preached and prepared the way for Jesus own ministry.

Moses and Joshua were a type for Elijah and his successor Elisha.

Elijah's life is vividly portrayed in the Old Testament of The Bible. He was unique, a committed, faithful, obedient man who was totally dedicated to God, able to know God having a very personal relationship with Him.

All believers have God's provisions available to them to accomplish His purposes and to have a personal responsive relationship with Him through The New Covenant instituted by Jesus Christ.

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Managed by Stefan Kreslin, Last updated August 2017