<<prominent OT prophet>>
The Jewish nation had split into the Northern Kingdom of Israel (10 tribes) and the Southern Kingdom of Judah (2 tribes) with many of the kings and priests being corrupt and ineffective. God used the prophets to try to turn Israel from its moral and spiritual decline, including Baal worship and other evil practices, back to Himself.
Elisha was one of the first of the prophets and commenced his ministry about 875 BC. He was succeeded by Elisha. He did not die but a fiery chariot caught him away in a whirlwind to heaven (2 Kgs 2:11). His story is told in 1 Kings 17:1 - 2 Kings 2:11 with various other references.
God performed various miracles through Elijah including: the prediction of drought and then the resumption of rain three and a half years later (1 Kgs 17:1, 18:41-45); the widow’s food source not running out (1 Kgs 17:12-16); miraculous fire from heaven consuming a water soaked sacrifice on Mount Carmel (1 Kgs 17:17-24); raising a widow’s son to life (1 Kgs 18:19-39).
In the NT his prophetic role of boldly confronting sin and pointing people to God was given to John the Baptist (Mt 11:13,14, 17:10-13; Lk 1:17). On the Mount of Transfiguration Elijah (representing the prophets), and Moses (representing the law) appeared with Jesus (Lk 9:28-36).
Lessons from his life: * He had a very personal and dynamic relationship with God, which is the foundation for any lasting spiritual work. Our confidence and reliance should be in Christ and the ability He gives, not our credentials, personality, people skills and persuasion tactics (Phil 3:3-6). How is my relationship with God? His prayers were earnest and the results spectacular (Jas 5:16-18). Do I saturate everything I do in prayer, and see specific answers to my sincere requests?
* He stood up for God and was fearless before heathen kings and many false prophets. He pointed out many disasters are self-inflicted through refusing to go God’s way (2 Kgs 18:18). He displayed a deep confidence in God. He was more concerned with telling others what they needed to hear, rather than what they wanted to hear. A true prophet respects and honours God, speaking out the divine messages rather than worrying about the reaction of those to whom they speak.
* Elijah’s challenge to the people was, “You can’t serve two gods at the same time. If the Lord is God follow Him; but if Baal is God follow him” (1 Kgs 18:21). Jesus makes the same statement to us (Mt 6:24). Where does my heart’s devotion lie?
* After two great spiritual victories (defeat of the prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel and the answered prayer for rain), Elijah was in a state of fatigue and discouragement. It is at times like this, after intense activity and the excitement of seeing God work, that we are susceptible to the threats of the enemy (2 Kgs 19:1-14). Pride and fear are another two effective weapons Satan uses against us. It’s easy to believe God loves us when all is going well, but difficult to see His hand when things are all going wrong.
* He lived an isolated life and was prone to discouragement and self-pity. He thought he was the only one left who was faithful to God when in fact there were another 7000 followers of God (1 Kgs 19:10,18). When we indulge in self-pity our perspective is clouded, consequently we lose sight of the real facts. God has more resources and people than we know of. Even when we don’t have any others of like mind with us, God had said He will never leave us (Heb 13:5,6). One with God is a majority!
* God’s presence is not necessarily in the spectacular but He will be with those who turn to Him with a humble heart (1 Kgs 19:11,12; Ps 51:17). Big meetings and events are great but they are no substitute for unhurried, individual time spent alone with God on a regular basis – it is here that the majority of our dealings with God take place.