After the death of Samuel, the newly formed kingdom of Israel suffered severely by the Philistines. The greatest invasion resulted in the death of King Saul and his son Jonathan – to which, David came to the throne of the tribe of Judah and finally was elevated to King over all Israel. However, in 931 BC, a division came, to which, Rehoboam was left with the smaller of the two kingdoms. In the North, Jeroboam was given the larger portion, and led the people into idolatry and pagan worship.
After 50 years of disaster and turmoil, we see Omri come to the head of the government to stop the anarchy, conquer Moab, establish a monarchy, build Samaria, and create a treaty with Syria. Ahab had become the successor to Omri. The coming of Jezebel meant more idolatry, especially in Baal worship. To please the strong-willed Jezebel, Ahab built in Samaria a temple for Baal worship, Asherah worship, and Phoenician worship.
Elijah’s name meant “Like God,” and he was given the task to be a Prophet during the era of Baal worship. This worship is of “mere power” or the worship of evil in general. In later days, the Jews designated this “Tyrian deity” the prince of devils. He also dealt with severe immorality, to which, the prophets of Yahweh were persecuted and killed. Many hid in caves for their own safety.
Jezebel then imported priests and prophets to do her bidding, to which, Elijah faced some of the darkest hours of his life. Anyway, Elijah was born and grew up in Gilead on the east of Jordan, to which, he was a Tishbite. He was described as a hairy man and one that wore a leather girdle. The New Testament states that Elijah (or Elias) was a man subject to like passions as we are even today.
Miracles done by Elijah
- First miracle, which appears at the court of Ahab, which announces the long drought would be broken only by God’s Word through the prophet. This was good, because it avoided any famine or furthering of famine conditions.
- Second miracle, he is fed by the ravens twice a day at the Brook Cherith. God intended that Elijah stay alive and be provided for, and just as the birds were provided for, the birds – by God – provided for him.
- Third miracle: God uses Elijah to multiply meal and oil daily. After seeing the Lord’s provision for him, he knew that God would provide for others, so God uses him to multiply for provisions.
- Fourth miracle, God uses him to restore the widow’s son to life. She calls Elijah a man of God. Just as Elijah did, later Elisha does a similar miracle – how glorious to see Elisha follow in the footsteps of his predecessor.
- Fifth miracle, on Mount Carmel there is a test as to whose God is God…to which, God answers by fire; the prophets of “Baal” are killed and rain comes in to answer Elijah’s prayer. Elijah hated idolatry, and was glad that much of it was rid of here.
- Sixth and Seventh miracles, we see rain and a 30 mile foot race is done, where Elijah outruns King Ahab who is driving his chariot. Elijah is equipped by the power of God, and will run the race as God empowers him!
- (The seventh is explained just above with sixth.)
- Eighth miracle, we learn of the “Juniper tree” experience, which the Juniper tree is well known of the cedar family. Elijah asks that he might die, and an Angel supernaturally strengthens him. Two times the Angel speaks to him and tells him to arise and eat, and finally the Angel speaks to him, “the journey is too great for thee.” Elijah arises and eats for the second time, and then “he went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the Mount of God.” Through this experience, he is challenged by God to return to anoint Hazael, Jehu, and Elisha.
- Ninth miracle, Elijah announces doom on Ahab and wicked Jezebel. Once again, Elijah sought to take care of idolatrous ways, and seeking an end to Baal.
- Tenth miracle, Elijah promises respite to Ahab, and God will delay punishment to the days of his son.
- Eleventh miracle, this is the prophecy of Elijah that pertained to the sickness and death of Jehoram.
- Twelfth miracle, this is the prediction or prophecy of death, the death of King Ahaziah.
- Thirteenth and Fourteenth miracle, this is the prophecy concerning King Ahaziah, who inquired of another god and Elijah stopped the messengers on their way to ask of their god. Elijah told them there was a God in Israel and because they found out info of the god Ekron, the King would die. They pushed in on Elijah and it resulted in fire from Heaven, which was the death of 102 men.
- (The fourteenth is explained just above with thirteenth.)
- Fifteenth miracle, we see that this is the miracle of the parting of the River Jordan as Elisha follows Elijah and the translation of Elijah is near. Elijah inquired of Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for thee” – to which, Elisha answers, “let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.” Elijah promises this shall come as long as “if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so.”
- Sixteenth miracle, this is the miracle of imparting a double portion of his own spirit upon Elisha. Elijah spends many quiet years teaching young men, especially Elisha, who would carry on the prophetic work. He is gloriously translated while Elisha looks on and receives the commission to continue the great work.
Elijah was a sturdy, virile, daring man from the wilds of Gilead. He had an iron constitution, as the text explains, an austere spirit, majestic somehow, flaming indignation, consuming zeal, and courageous nature which set him forth as a man of romance and mystery. He was strong and yet weak; a zeal so limitless with energy. He had a tremendous grip on the ways of God and he had unusual power in prayer. He hated false religions, among other idolatries. He was unselfish, merciless, and cruel in his treatment of the Baal prophets. He was on fire for God doing His Will! Overall, he was a man of prevailing prayer, a man of faith, and one of the most dramatic appearances and exits. It is said of him, “he went through history like a meteor.”
Jesus spoke of Elijah
Jesus speaks of Elijah (Elias) in Luke 4:25, “But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land.” He speaks this about Elijah after He talks about healing and other activities to do in that area that He did in another area, and He says that, “no prophet is accepted in his own country.” Palestine was filled with poor people even in times of plenty, it seemed, and therefore, there must have been large numbers of hungry people during the famine. He said that nobody sent Elijah to do miracles over there, so why should He Himself be sent or go Himself to relieve the famine? That’s what He questions in that short explanation.
The point in this Scripture is that many people had compared Jesus to Elijah and vice-versa, because of all the miracles both had conducted. They frequently referred back to Elijah and would generalize that, for example, “if this happens…why you (Jesus) don’t do as Elijah did?” Jesus was calling them out in this questioning, because He knew that He was being faithful to the Will of God, and wanted them to realize that He doesn’t want to continue to be compared to Elijah – but that, He is doing miracles as God Wills them to be done. He reflects the Father in every way and does what He sees the Father doing; therefore, His ways are perfect. However, all this explanation did was anger the people there that He was instructed, and they wanted Him thrown out.
Comparing Elijah with John the Baptist
The answer for this is recorded in Luke 1:5-7; 15-17: “There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
As we see here, John the Baptist is similar to Elisha, in that; he received the spirit and power of Elijah, which would be fulfillment of the prophecy that Elijah shall come again. The Jews expected Elijah as the forerunner of the Messiah. John showed the spirit of Elijah in his clothing, in his life in general, and in his messages of repentance.
Elijah was a sign of the coming of the Lord
We see in Malachi 4:5 a prophecy, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” Elijah is part of the last prophecy in the Old Testament, which concerns the return of Elijah the prophet to Earth, from Heaven, shortly before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. During this occurrence, there will be a great revival and outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh and all of Israel will be saved because of the ministry of the “Two Witnesses.” It seems the Scripture is worded in a way that Elijah would be one of the “Two Witnesses” mentioned in Revelation 11:2-12. Some believe the second witness is Enoch, because both Enoch and Elijah did not see natural death. Some point to Moses.
We see Elijah and Moses together in Scripture during the transfiguration of Christ to Peter, James, and John his brother on the high mountain. Here is a snippet: “And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.”
Elijah and Jesus Christ compared
|Elijah called on God's People to repent during a period of great unfaithfulness (1 Kings 19:14-18)||Jesus announced the Kingdom of God that had come at the exact time God prepared it to do so (Mark 1:15)|
|Ravens were sent to care for Elijah in the desert, and an angel fed him during a 40 day journey in the wilderness (1 Kings 17:6; 19:3-8)||Angels took care of Jesus while He was on a 40 day fast in the desert (Matthew 4:2; 4:11; Mark 1:13; Luke 4:2)|
|Elijah raised from the dead a widow's son (1 Kings 17:17-24)||Jesus raised from the dead a widow's son in Nain (Luke 7:11-15)|
|Elijah was able to call down fire from Heaven to rain down upon his enemies (2 Kings 1:12)||Jesus refused for His disciples to call fire from Heaven to rain down upon His enemies (Luke 9:52-56)|
|Elijah had one disciple, Elisha, who left his oxen to follow Elijah (1 Kings 19:19-21)||Jesus called 12 disciples, who left their lives at home and served and followed Jesus (Matthew 4:18-22)|