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Elijah is often referred to as the prophet of fire, probably because he called fire from heaven on at least two different occasions. We are also told that horses and chariots of fire caught him up off the earth. Therefore, Elijah did not die; he was simply carried to be with God. His name reveals a great deal about him, for the name Elijah is made up of two parts; Eli (Jehovah) and jah (is my God). It is so simple, Jehovah was his God, and He miraculously carried Elijah home to heaven.

We know virtually nothing of his parentage or background, except that he is called "Elijah the Tishbite ,.. of the inhabitants of Gilead" (1 Kings 17:1). His clothing consisted of a skin girdle about his loins (1 Kings 18:46). In addition to the girdle, he sometimes wore a sheepskin mantle (1 Kings 19:13). It was the same mantle which he used in dividing the waters of the river Jordan (2 Kings 2:8) and which Elisha took up after Elijah was taken to heaven (2 Kings 2:13). In addition to the dividing of the river, six other miracles are attributed to Elijah. The miracles are: (1) Drought (1 Kings 17:1), (2) Meal and oil multiplied (1 Kings 17:14), (3) Child restored to life (1 Kings 17:22), (4) Sacrifice consumed by fire (1 Kings 18:38), (5) Rain brought (1 Kings 18:41), (6) Captains and men slain by fire (2 Kings 1:10), and (7) Waters of Jordan divided (2 Kings 2:8).

The first recorded act of this prophet, was when he appeared before the idolatrous king, Ahab. Elijah appeared unannounced and told Ahab there would be years of prolonged drought (1 Kings 17:1). He prophesied a three-year drought in Israel, that would come as a judgment of God. Having made this announcement, it was necessary for him to flee from the evil king and his more wicked wife, Jazebel. By divine direction, Elijah encamps by the brook Cherith, where he is miraculously sustained. He drank water from the brook and was fed by ravens. The ravens, which brought bread and meat twice each day (1 Kings 17:6), would no doubt have eaten it themselves, had not God intervened in Elijah’s provisions.

His faith was tested as the brook dried up. Likely, Ahab was close to finding the prophet, so God caused him to relocate. We may not understand all God's ways (Isaiah 55:8-9), but He always understands our needs (Matthew 6:8). Leaving the brook, he was directed to a widow in Zarephath. He saw her outside the famine stricken city, gathering sticks to prepare her last skimpy meal, after which starvation would come to the widow and her son. The prophet made a strange request of this widow, for he asks her to give him the last food she had. Unselfishly, she gave her food to the prophet and God graciously provided for her and her son . Each day the meal and oil was sufficient for their needs, so God feed the three of them. She had cast her bread upon the waters and was still finding it after many days ( Ecclesiastes 11:11). She had sown and so she reaped (Galatians 6:7). It is interesting to note, that after the miracle of the meal and oil, the woman’s son died and God used Elijah again, restoring the life of her only son (1 Kings 17:17-24).

Not many days later, God again directed his prophet back into the presence of King Ahab (1 Kings 18:1). The devastations of famine were now experienced throughout the land. As Elijah suddenly reappears, Ahab accuses him of troubling Israel (1 Kings 18:17). It is astounding how the depraved heart of man cannot see his own sin and guilt. Ahab was in reality, the cause of the problems; not Elijah. So often we blame others for problems which we have caused (James 1:23-24). Elijah then went before the people with a proposition to decide whether Jehovah or Baal was the true God (1 Kings 18:21-24). The great contest was between: one prophet of God, against four-hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. Many probably feel that Elijah was outnumbered, when in reality the prophets of Baal were. One person plus God; is always a majority. If God is for us, who can succeed against us? (Romans 8:31). Each side erected an alter, placed on it a sacrifice and called upon their supreme being to consume it with fire. Of course the prophets of Baal failed, for fake gods are not capable of hearing nor answering the prayers of their followers (Jeremiah 10:3-6). However, when Elijah prayed, God sent fire and consumed not only the sacrifice, but the alter as well, even though they had previously saturated them with water (1 Kings 18:33-39). Jehovah is manifest as the true God and Elijah becomes the prophet of fire as the drought comes to an end (1 Kings 28:41-46).

Following this great display of God's power, the false prophets of Baal were slain; which caused Jezebel to become enraged, for they were her prophets. She threatened to kill Elijah, so he hid himself in the wilderness. Feeling he was alone in the work of God and praying to die; God made known to him that there were seven-thousand others in Israel, who also worshiped the true and living God (1 Kings 19:10 & 18). We all feel alone at times and think no one can possibly understand our plight. However, there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9), and our trials have also afflicted others (1 Corinthians 10:13). Not only did God reveal this fact to Elijah by a still small voice (1 Kings 19:11-12), but God also directed Elijah to meet Elisha, who would accompany him and later become his successor. It is indeed amazing, that in a time when Elijah felt so alone, God provided someone to help him in his work, just as in the beginning God provided Adam with a wife (Genesis 2:18 & 20-23). He will also provide for us, according to our need (Philippians 4:19).

For a short time, little was heard about Elijah and no doubt Ahab and Jezebel thought they had seen the last of that troublesome prophet. Nevertheless, their next confrontation would come because of Naboth and his vineyard. King Ahab wanted it, because it was near the palace and convenient for him to use as a garden spot. Naboth would not sell or trade it, so Jezebel told lies which caused the death of Naboth and Ahab took the vineyard (1 Kings 21:1-16). God then sent Elijah back to the king, with a serious denunciation of both Ahab and Jezebel, in which he announces to them the destruction of their entire house (1 Kings 21:17-29). It should amaze us, that sin has a way of finding us out (Numbers 32:23). Cain’s sin cried out against him and so does ours (Genesis 4:10).

After the death of Ahab another evil king reigned, whose name was Ahaziah. Several years passed without any appearances of Elijah. Then suddenly, Ahaziah was involved in a serious accident and sent messengers to the oracles of Baal, wanting to know whether he would live or die. However, Elijah intercepted them and pronounced the death of the wicked king (2 Kings 1:1-8). The angered king sent two bands of soldiers to seize Elijah, but the soldiers were destroyed by fire from heaven (2 Kings 1:9-14). Later Elijah went before Ahaziah and repeated the message of death (2 Kings 1:15-18).

The last event to transpire in the life of this tremendous prophet, was the transfer of his mantle to his successor Elisha. Setting out from Gilgal, Elijah tried to persuade Elisha to remain behind, but the younger prophet would not. Accompanied by Elisha, Elijah then traveled to the river Jordan, where he smites the waters and they are parted. They pass over together and as they stand talking, Elijah was suddenly separated from Elisha by chariots of fire and Elijah was taken up by a whirlwind into heaven (2 Kings 2:1-11). Thus ended the earthly life and work of the prophet of fire. We all have an appointment with death (Hebrews 9:27); therefore, as Elijah, let us serve God while we have life for “the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4).

In conclusion, let me state that Elijah spoke often, but left no written words, except a letter to Jehoram, king of Judah. Elijah still lives with God, for he appeared with Moses as they talked to Jesus on the mount of transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-3). He is number among a few rare characters who did not pass from this life by the experience of death. We know that both Elijah and Enoch were carried to live with God, even though they did not die a physical death (Genesis 5:24, Hebrews 11:5).

I have not chosen specific personal qualities for our focus, as I have with other characters we have studied. However, I have endeavored to draw from his life, some valuable lessons, gleaned from the life and experiences of God’s prophet Elijah.

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This page last updated on June 17, 2014