Who is Elijah?
1 Kings 16-18
I want to tell you a story about Elijah who is one of the most talked about prophets in biblical time. What's a prophet you ask? Well, prophets are people anointed by God to listen to what God tells them and deliver his message to others. Elijah is important because he heardfrom God and no matter how crazy or strange God's requests to him were, he always was obedient. This helps us understand that when we seek God and He tells us to do something, we can follow Elijah's example and be obedient to God's wishes too. Let's get to hearing more about this prophet because he is one very interesting and awesome guy!
During the time of King Ahab's rule, he and his wife Jezebel encouraged all the people in his kingdom to worship the idol, Baal. The idol Baal was the so called "God of Rain and Harvests". King Ahab was one of the most ruthless kings ever and because of his wickedness, he led the people who still served the one true God(The God of Israel) astray. Ahab's evil wife Jezebel hunted down God's people, the prophets, and had them killed. As usual, Ahab was resting, relaxing and feasting in his palace when all of a sudden he was hit by a burst of cool night air. The wind startled him but imagine his surprise to see a strange man appear with the wind saying these words, "The Lord God of Israel,whom I serve says there will be no dew on the ground nor rain from the sky in the next few years except at my word". Just as soon as the stranger appeared and spoke God's message,he also disappeared. King Ahab was not only scared of the man but also angry that someone would come into his presence uninvited. The stranger's name was Elijah and he was remembered as one of the most well known prophets of God. This message was intended for Ahab because Ahab had deliberately mocked God by worshiping the idol, Baal. God was growing tired of Ahab's flippant attitude towards his rule and his worship of Baal.
After leaving Ahab, Elijah heard again from God again. This time God told Elijah to hide in a ravine East of the Jordan river. God also told Elijah that he could drink water from the brook in the ravine and he would send ravens(birds) to feed him. It's a good thing too, because evil King Ahab commanded his soldiers to find and capture the strange man(Elijah) who had interrupted his dinner. Remember the words Elijah spoke to King Ahab about the drought at their first meeting? Well the drought came to pass but God faithfully provided water for Elijah from the brook and meat and bread from ravens morning and night. Can you imagine tame birds flying to your hiding place twice a day with meat and bread? God is amazing. However the drought continued and became so severe that the last bit of water had dried up from the brook Elijah had been drinking out of.
God spoke again to Elijah and told him to go to Zarephath which was a city in Sidon. Sidon was a place where the people had always followed the idol, Baal. Elijah thought this was a strange command, but he obeyed anyway because he knew being obedient to God was critical to his survival. God then told Elijah that he should look for a poor widow there who would be gathering sticks. God also told Elijah that he had already told the poor widow to give Elijah whatever food she had. As soon as Elijah arrived in Zarephath he found the widow gathering sticks so he called to her "Please bring me a little water to drink and some bread". The widow told Elijah all she had left was a handful of flour and a little bit of oil. She sadly said that because of the great drought there was no harvest, so she planned to use her last remaining supplies to cook one last meal for her son and herself before they died of hunger. Strangely, Elijah told the woman not to be afraid. Then he instructed her to make a cake for himself with her last supplies and then afterwards make another for herself and her son. He said "The Lord God of Israel told him the jar of flour won't be used up, nor will the jug of oil run dry until I bring water to the Earth." The woman ran to her home and baked bread pouring flour and oil many times and neither were used up. God's promise had held true, because the widow used the little bit she had left to make the first cake for Elijah. God honored her obedience and continuously filled the flour and oil for many more meals for herself, her son and Elijah!! Elijah continued living in her home in an upper room prepared especially for him.
One day, the widow's son became very ill and stopped breathing and died. When Elijah heard the woman crying, he came down from his roon to find out what was wrong. The upset widow accused Elijah of bringing punishment upon her for all her past sins. So Elijah asked for the boy and carried him up to his room. Elijah began calling out to God upon his knees. He asked God why he would allow such a terrible thing to happen to the widow who was obedient to him. He cried out, "Lord, I beg of you to give this boy life again". Elijah then stretched his body out on top of the lifeless boy 3 times before God answered his prayer and revived the child. The little boy began breathing normally again and opened his eyes. He then ran downstairs to his mother who cried out to Elijah "Now I know you are a prophet who truly speaks the word of God!" Imagine the widow's joy and surprise to find out that her son was alive. Imagine how happy and loved she felt by God that he not only saved her son's life once by providing more food when they had run out, but that he revived him from death! God is awesome and powerful and the same today as he was yesterday. Is Elijah special in that God answered his prayers to bring the boy back to life? yes, we are all special, but God would do the same things for us if we kept his commandments, had faith in his power and love and were obedient to his commands.
© Beth Rimstidt 2005
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