As I said earlier, I am running this old series on the prophet Elijah. He is such a great example of a man who answered God’s call and never looked back.

I really, really like the story of Elijah found in First Kings Chapters 17 and 18.

Why do I like this story? It reads very easy because it is very familiar. The background in which the great Prophet operated, as well as the Prophet himself,  have a familiar ring to them.

During the next bit, we will study our way through 1 Kings Chapters 17 and 18, as we explore the calling of Elijah, his subsequent teaching and development, and finally ending with what appeared to be his true purpose. So, that’s homework. Read those two chapters, read the culture and history of the time, even read some commentaries.

Let’s take a trip back as we begin, to Chapter 16 of our book.

1 Kings 16:29-34

In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri began to reign over Israel, and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years and Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him. And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for his wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal and worshiped him. He erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. And Ahab made an Asherah. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him. In his days Hiel of Bethel built Jericho. He laid its foundation at the cost of Abiram his firstborn, and set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the Lord, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.

What we see above is Elijah’s world. One could say that what we see above is our world also. In Israel we see a nation carried away in the abandon of its own sin. Today we are in a nation carried away in the abandon of its own sin. Israel was populated by people who had, by and large, abandoned the true worship of the True God. Today we are in a nation that has, by and large, abandoned the true worship of the True God.

What do we see in Israel at this time?

Wicked and corrupt leaders

A nation and a people who are turning from God

A nation and a people who are turning to many gods

A nation and a people sliding deeper into sin and immorality of every sort, and things that only a few generations before would have been unthinkable.

What do we see in our own land today?

Wicked and corrupt leaders

A nation and a people who are turning from God

A nation and a people who are turning to many gods

A nation and a people sliding deeper into sin and immorality of every sort, and things that only a few generations before would have been unthinkable.

Another thing we can perhaps surmise but is not necessarily made explicit in the text is the slow change from the worship of the true God, to perhaps religious pluralism, to outright persecution and murder of God’s people. Does that sound familiar? First, it is okay to worship other gods. Next, it’s okay and pretty accepted to take one’s pick; worship Yahweh, or Baal, either one is fine. Next, it becomes definitely NOT okay for one who worships the True God to say or even imply that God is the only God or the only way to heaven. After that, we see Jezebel’s systematic murder of the Prophets of God. I know no one is being killed in this nation for their Christian faith, but we certainly see other indicators very similar to what we see with Ahab and Jezebel.

1 Kings 17:1

Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”

Elijah who? That is a good question really. We just discussed the depths of rebellion into which the Israelites had descended. They were ruled by the most Evil and unGodly King since the Kingdom had divided, and Idolatry and sin of every sort were rampant in the land. Then, seemingly out of nowhere pops this man, Elijah to proclaim boldly to King Ahab the pronouncement of God’s judgment upon the nation. Wow.

What do we know for sure? He was a Tishbite, from Gilead. Nothing is noted about his parentage, or anything else. We don’t even know for sure exactly where his hometown was even located!

He certainly made a grand entrance, and quite a grand exit as well. In 2 Kings Chapter 2, we can read how Elijah was taken by God in a fiery chariot to Heaven. God must consider him to have been of some importance, as he appeared with Moses at the Transfiguration of our Lord in Matthew Chapter 17.

What can we infer perhaps about Elijah.? Well, it seems he was, in many ways, just like the rest of us. He was a man of strong passion and strong emotion. He was even a man of fear, as we see later after his showdown with the Prophets of Baal. When threatened with death by the evil Jezebel, Elijah succumbed to his fatigue and fear and became depressed. He may have been a tough, hard man, as he seems to have lived mostly alone in the desert for a good piece of the three-year drought God judged Israel with. Comparison is made between Elijah and John the Baptist, also a rough, tough man of the wild.

What is the point? There is nothing to really indicate that Elijah was special or specially gifted or endowed in any way. Apparently, Elijah’s gift was simply that he responded to God’s call. Elijah was one man, willing to step into the gap.

Why this study of Elijah? Because of the similarities we see between then and now. The society is similar, and the need is similar. God is still calling a few, or many, to step up and deliver a message of repentance to a nation gone astray. There are simply some great lessons in this story about how God will take care of us if we take care of His business.

Who will be our Elijah today?