Elijah - Boldest of the Prophets

Profile of Elijah, A Man Who Did Not Die

Elijah
Elijah rebuked King Ahab for having forsaken the Lord for the god Baal. Print Collector / Contributor / Getty Images

Elijah stood up boldly for God in a time when idolatry had swept his land. In fact, his name means "My God is Yah(weh)."

The false god Elijah opposed was Baal, the favorite deity of Jezebel, wife of King Ahab of Israel. To please Jezebel, Ahab had altars erected to Baal, and the queen murdered God's prophets.

Elijah appeared before King Ahab to announce God's curse: "As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word." (1 Kings 17:1, NIV)

Then Elijah fled to the brook Cherith, east of the Jordan River, where ravens brought him bread and meat. When the brook dried up, God sent Elijah to live with a widow in Zarephath. God performed another miracle there, blessing the woman's oil and flour so it did not run out. Unexpectedly, the widow's son died. Elijah stretched himself on the boy's body three times, and God restored the child's life.

Confident of the power of God, Elijah challenged the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of the false god Asherah to a showdown on Mount Carmel. The idolaters sacrificed a bull and cried out to Baal from morning until nightfall, even slashing their skin until blood flowed, but nothing happened. Elijah then rebuilt the altar of the Lord, sacrificing a bull there.

He put the burnt offering on it, along with wood. He had a servant douse the sacrifice and wood with four jars of water, three times, until all was thoroughly soaked.

Elijah called on the Lord, and God's fire fell from heaven, consuming the offering, the wood, the altar, the water, and even the dust around it.

The people fell on their faces, shouting, "The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God." (1 Kings 18:39, NIV) Elijah ordered the people to slay the 850 false prophets.

Elijah prayed, and rain fell on Israel. Jezebel was furious at the loss of her prophets, however, and swore to kill him. Afraid, Elijah ran to the wilderness, sat under a broom tree, and in his despair, asked God to take his life. Instead, the prophet slept, and an angel brought him food. Strengthened, Elijah went 40 days and 40 nights to Mount Horeb, where God appeared to him in a whisper.

God ordered Elijah to anoint his successor, Elisha, whom he found plowing with 12 yoke of oxen. Elisha killed the animals for a sacrifice and followed his master. Elijah went on to prophesy the deaths of Ahab, King Ahaziah, and Jezebel.

Like Enoch, Elijah did not die. God sent chariots and horses of fire and took Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, while Elisha stood watching.

Accomplishments of Elijah

Under God's guidance, Elijah struck a heavy blow against the evil of false gods. He was an instrument for miracles against Israel's idolaters.

Prophet Elijah's Strengths

Elijah had incredible faith in God. He loyally carried out the Lord's instructions and struck boldly in the face of enormous opposition.

Prophet Elijah's Weaknesses

After a stunning victory on Mount Carmel, Elijah fell into depression. The Lord was patient with him, however, letting him rest and regain his strength for future service.

Life Lessons

Despite the miracles God performed through him, Elijah was only human, like us. God can use you in amazing ways as well, if you surrender yourself to his will.

Hometown

Tishbe in Gilead.

References to Elijah in the Bible

Elijah's story is found in 1 Kings 17:1 - 2 Kings 2:11. Other references include 2 Chronicles 21:12-15; Malachi 4:5,6; Matthew 11:14, 16:14, 17:3-13, 27:47-49; Luke 1:17, 4:25,26; John 1:19-25; Romans 11:2-4; James 5:17,18. Occupation: Prophet

Key Verses

1 Kings 18:36-39
At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: "O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again." Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, "The LORD-he is God! The LORD-he is God!" (NIV)

2 Kings 2:11
As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. (NIV)