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Elijah was a prophet of God, whose life is documented in the biblical books of First and Second Kings. Elijah is known for performing many miracles and confronting Israel's Kings with God's messages. For much of his lifetime, he was the only prophet of God, while the majority of Israelites worshipped Baal. He mentored his successor, Elisha who would carry on his work after his death.

Elijah spent much of his prophetic ministry during a drought, working with the poor and using miracles to return them to worshipping God. During this time he personally gave prophesies from God to Israel's King, Ahab.

Elijah also spent a great deal of time uprooting the power of Baalite Cults and challenging the prophets beliefs in their gods.

After a victory against Baal and his followers, Elijah found himself at war with the queen, Jezebel. Fearing the worst, he fled south, into the wilderness of Judah and then all the way to Mt. Sinai. The message was to go find his own replacement: that person was Elisha. After training him, Elijah was called by the LORD one last time, disappearing into heaven.

Biography

Early Life

Elijah was from the town of Tishbe, located within the territory of Gilead- a tribal division closely affiliated or the same as Manasseh [2]. Noting is known about his family, nor is Elijah ever given a patronymic epithet, representing his father. Elijah is often referred to as "Elijah the Tishbite"; so his epithet is related to his geographic rather than familial origination. Elijah is named "Yahweh is my God". He may have been given the name at birth by his family to reflect dedication to God in a time where Baal worship was the majority. Otherwise Elijah was given the name once he became a prophet (perhaps self-given) when he was the only prophet of God to separate himself from Baalites.

Confrontation with Ahab

Elijah had been sent by God to confront Ahab, the monarch over Israel at the time. Elijah proclaimed to Ahab that a drought would come over Israel unless Elijah commanded so.[3]

Traveling to avoid Drought

Journey to Kerith Ravine

After his confrontations with Ahab, Elijah was commanded by God to travel to Kerith Ravine in order to avoid the coming drought. There he drank from the brook and was fed by ravens.[4]

The Widow at Zarephath

Eventually Elijah ceased drinking from the brook since it had dried up. Elijah was then directed by God to travel to Zarephath where a widow would provide him food.[5] So Elijah traveled to Zarephath and at the city gate met the widow, who was intended to feed him. Elijah requested the widow to fetch him water and a piece of bread.[6] The widow replied she had no bread, which lead to Elijah instructing her what was to be done with the materials she had.[7] With these instructions the widow did as she was told (leaving the flour she had not to run out and the oil not to dry) and there was food everyday for Elijah, the widow and her son. This had been a miracle from God, since Elijah had instructed the widow by God's words.[8] Eventually the widow's son became ill and died, leaving the widow to believe Elijah was punishing her because or her sins. Elijah took her son to the room in the widow's home where he was staying and prayed to God to bring him back to life. God heard Elijah's pleas and did so.[9] Once life had returned to the widow's son, Elijah carried him back to his mother showing her that he was alive. This led the widow to truly believe Elijah was a man sent by God.[10]

Elijah returns to Israel

Elijah reunites with Obadiah

Three years had passed and God commissioned Elijah to announce to Ahab the drought would be over. Elijah traveled to the palace and as he was walking encountered Obadiah, Ahab's palace administrator (despite being a devout believer in God), looking for some grass to feed to cattle. Obadiah being a servant of Elijah came up and knelt to him.[11] As Obadiah knelt, Elijah told him to notify Ahab that he was wishing to speak to the king. Obadiah reacted in fear, hesitating, believing that Ahab would kill him. Elijah assured Obadiah he would present himself to Ahab, and Obadiah went and did as he was told.[12]

Elijah on Mount Carmel

So Obadiah sent for Ahab and Ahab went to Elijah. Ahab questioned Elijah to see if it was him, calling him a troubler. Elijah replied to Ahab telling him of his faults to the nation of Israel. Elijah then requested Ahab to gather all the people and the prophets of Israel onto Mount Carmel, therefore he did.[13] So Elijah spoke before the people on the Mountain, questioning their alternating opinions as to who was the God of Israel. Elijah continued on, stating that he was the last prophet of the LORD, while Baal (the other option for the true God) had a great number of prophets. Elijah challenged Baal, proposing a contest where each would prepare a bull and place it on an altar without setting it afire. Whichever God set the altar on fire would be considered Israel's God.[14]

Elijah then requested that the Baal worshipers prepare their bull first, due to the large number of the Baal worshipers. They prayed to Baal from the morning until noon, yet there was no response from Baal. Elijah soon began to taunt Baal's followers to pray even louder, stating that perhaps Baal was resting or in deep thought.[15] The Baalists continued to worship Baal, yet no response was made to their pleas. Afterwards Elijah prompted the Baalitsts to come with him as he prepared his sacrifice to the LORD. He gathered twelve stones, one for each of the tribes of Israel. Using these stones he built an altar and dug a trench around it. He gathered wood and arranged it accordingly; then he sliced the bull and put it on top of the wood.[16] Then Elijah ordered the Baalists to dump great amounts of water onto the altar three times, even filling the trench.[17] After this Elijah prayed to God to burn his sacrifice. Therefore, God sent down fire and burned the sacrifice as well as the altar itself and evaporated the water in the trench.[18]

When the Baal worshipers saw this, they fell and worshiped The LORD[19] and Elijah told the people to arrest the prophets of Baal. Then these prophets of Baal were killed.[20] This task complete, Elijah prayed to the LORD for rain, sending his servant toward the sea seven times to get a weather report. Finally, a cloud appearing to be about the size of a man's hand on the horizon. He told Ahab to get in his chariot and get back to the palace. But then, he outran the chariot![21]

Elijah's Final Mission

When Elijah got back into town, he found out that Jezebel was not pleased. She was determined to protect her 450 prophets of Ashterah from this troublesome prophet of the LORD.[verse needed] She puts out a call for his death, forcing him to flee. He ran into the desert and begged to die at the LORD's hand. Instead, an angel came to him and fed him, telling him to prepare for a long journey. Forty days later, he found himself at the place where the LORD gave Moses the Law. Hiding in a cave, he heard the LORD speaking to him, telling him to go outside and look around. Then God sent a great wind, followed by an earthquake and a fire, but no manifestation such as had been seen by Moses. Instead, there was a whisper telling him to go back to Israel to anoint two men as king. And then to anoint Elisha to be his successor.[22]

Elijah predicts the End of a Dynasty

Before he finishes his prophetic ministry, Elijah heads over to the palace to provide a final word to Ahab's family. He predicts the death of both Jezebel and Ahab,[23] and though Ahab would get a reprieve from God, both monarchs would meet terrible deaths after they had killed an innocent man to acquire his land. Later, when the new king had been injured, and he sought advice from false prophets only to be approached by Elijah with the 'bad news' — he was going to die. The young king did not like this and sent several bands of soldiers to get the prophet. Finally one captain dared to stand against the kings orders to take Elijah by force and just asked him to come. Assured by the LORD that it was safe, Elijah delivered the message in person.[24]

Taken from Earth

His work done, Elijah brought Elisha with him as he crossed the Jordan heading toward his home town in Gilead. When they got there, he told his prize student that he was leaving but that if Elisha saw him leave, the would receive a double blessing from God. And then, a "chariot of fire" came between the two of them and a whirlwind took Elijah away into heaven. When Elisha's friends looked for the great prophet, he was not to be found.[25]

Legacy

John the Baptist

The Transfiguration

When Jesus took three Apostles: James, John and Peter he transfigured his form.

Verses

  1. 2 Kings 1:8 (Link)
  2. 1 Kings 17:1, 21:17 (Link)
  3. 1 Kings 17:1 (Link)
  4. 1 Kings 17:2-4 (Link)
  5. 1 Kings 17:7-8 (Link)
  6. 1 Kings 17:10-11 (Link)
  7. 1 Kings 17:12-14 (Link)
  8. 1 Kings:15-16 (Link)
  9. 1 Kings 17:17-19 (Link)
  10. 1 Kings 17:23-24 (Link)
  11. 1 Kings 18:1-7 (Link)
  12. 1 Kings 18:8-15 (Link)
  13. 1 Kings 18:17-20 (Link)
  14. 1 Kings 18:22-24 (Link)
  15. 1 Kings 18:25-28 (Link)
  16. 1 Kings 18:30-32 (Link)
  17. 1 Kings 18:33-35 (Link)
  18. 1 Kings 18:36-38 (Link)
  19. 1 Kings 18:39 (Link)
  20. 1 Kings 18:40 (Link)
  21. 1 Kings 18:41-46 (Link)
  22. 1 Kings 19:15-16 (Link)
  23. 1 Kings 21:17-24 (Link)
  24. 2 Kings 1:1-16 (Link)
  25. 2 Kings 2:1-11 (Link)

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