Part Four—the Prophets: Elijah

in Great Men of the Old Testament

One of the most fascinating of the prophets was Elijah. He is also one of the greatest, a man truly zealous for God. Little is known about the background and personal life of Elijah. He appears to have been middle-aged, at least, when he came on the scene-at a time when the nation of Israel was at one of its lowest spiritual ebbs. During this period chaos reigned in Israel. A number of kings had been assassinated, and now Ahab was on the throne.

In the Bible a number of remarkable comments are made about Elijah. For example, John the Baptist is compared to Elijah. The Bible states: “And he [John] 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” (Luke 1:17). So, the office and authority of John the Baptist is compared to Elijah. Elijah was a very important servant of God in his day, and some of his miracles are even mentioned in the New Testament. Notice for example Luke 4:25-26: “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; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow” (Luke 4:25-26). During the reign of Ahab, Elijah had prayed for a drought to befall Israel. The drought lasted more than three years, and during this time he supernaturally provided food for the widow. No other prophet closed up the heavens for an extended drought like this, and no other prophet ever called fire down from heaven upon the enemies of God (Luke 9:54). Of Elijah we read: “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit” (Jas. 5:17-18). His miracles are so spectacular that he is compared to Christ. People asked Christ: ” . . . Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?” (John 1:25).

Elijah was a man with a unique commission. He was sent to deal with Ahab. Ahab was one of the worst kings ever to sit on the throne of Israel.

And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him. And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. . . . And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him (1 Kings 16: 30-31, 33).

God commissioned Elijah as His spokesman. “And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word” (1 Kings 17:1). The king and his courtiers may have smirked at this warning, but it did not take them long to find out they were dealing with a prophet. As promised, punishment was now being meted out upon this sinning kingdom.

Here is an ancient warning:

Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; And then the LORD’S wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you (Deut. 11:16-17).

Drought was one of the punishments God promised to bring upon the idolatrous and disobedient people of Israel. Prolonged drought is always followed by famine. Elijah ” . . . prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months” (Jas. 5:17). Elijah pronounced the sentence and then quickly disappeared. For his safety God instructed him to hide from Ahab. “And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan” (1 Kings 17:2-3). This location was secure. There was ample water provided by the brook, and ravens furnished him with food (1 Kings 17:6). He remained in this place until instructed to go to Sidon. “And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee” (1 Kings 17:8-9). The last place in the world Ahab would look for Elijah was in the country of his idolatrous wife Jezebel. But here the famine had become severe.

So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth. And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah (1 Kings 17:10-16).

Look at the miracles taking place by the hand of Elijah. Already three supernatural events either had occurred or were occurring. God had seen in this widow woman an attitude that would cause her to respond to the needs of His prophet. Look how she was blessed and sustained by His mighty hand. One of the greatest of all the prophets was instrumental in giving this widow woman the privilege of experiencing God’s marvelous and merciful blessings! As noted earlier, Jesus referred to this very miracle when He said: ” . . . Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. 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; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow” (Luke 4:24-26). Now an even greater miracle would be performed in her life.

And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him. And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son? And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed. And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son? And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again. And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth. And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth (1 Kings 17:17-24).

The time had now come for Elijah to appear before Ahab. The nation of Israel was undergoing severe punishment by the hand of God. If the situation did not soon change, it would become a national disaster. It was time for Ahab to see why this had happened to his people. “And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year [of his sojourn with the widow], saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth. And Elijah went to shew himself unto Ahab. And there was a sore famine in Samaria” (1 Kings 18:1-2). On his way to meet Ahab, Elijah met one of Ahab’s servants, a man named Obadiah, who was searching for pastureland for Ahab.

And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah? And he answered him, I am: go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here. And he said, What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me? As the LORD thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not (1 Kings 18:7-10).

“So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah” (1 Kings 18:16). Ahab quickly manifested his attitude. “And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” (1 Kings 18:17). Elijah’s reply was blunt and to the point.

And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim. Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table (1 Kings 18:18-19).

It was now time to put this false worship of Baal to the test! “So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel. And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word” (1 Kings 18:20-21). The people were steeped in Baal worship, and were not the least bit convinced. What happened next is so riveting, let us read the entire account.

Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken. And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under. And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made (1 Kings 18:22-26).

And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked. And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded. And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down. And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name: And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed. And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood. And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time. And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water (1 Kings 18:27-35).

And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God. And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there. And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain (1 Kings 18:36-41).

Ahab was so moved by what had happened, he made no effort to thwart the execution of these idolatrous priests. “And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel” (1 Kings 18:45). Ahab appeared to respond to this manifestation of God’s power. He was genuinely moved, but failed to consider the response of his evil, domineering wife. “And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword” (1 Kings 19:1). What was Jezebel’s reaction? “Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time” (1 Kings 19:2). The nation of Israel was poised to make a dramatic change in obedience to God, but people do follow their leaders. Had Ahab taken the lead, and had he controlled his wife, a national reformation may have taken place. But Ahab had no backbone. No wonder the Bible says:

And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him. And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him . . . . and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him (1 Kings 16: 30-31,33).

The tables were now turned. Elijah was in mortal danger of losing his life. He was now unnerved and discouraged. He knew Jezebel had no qualms about killing the prophets of God (1 Kings 18:4). “And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers” (1 Kings 19:3-4). Elijah felt his mission had been a failure and was so disheartened that he wanted to die. But God sent an angel to encourage him and to let him know He was not through with him yet. He was once again supernaturally fed.

And as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, Arise and eat. And he looked, and, behold, there was a cake baken on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head. And he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. And the angel of the LORD came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee. And he arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights unto Horeb the mount of God (1 Kings 19:5-8).

Elijah was now alone on the very mount on which God had given the Ten Commandments. After a period of time God again manifested Himself to Elijah. “And . . . behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9). God was now in the process of telling Elijah that He had another mission for him to fulfill. Since Ahab had proved to be incapable of changing, God determined to deal with him in another manner, but first Elijah had to see how God chooses to deal with man. Elijah’s response to God again demonstrated his discouragement. “And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away” (1 Kings 19:10). He felt alone and abandoned. He could not understand why these reverses had taken place. So God did a remarkable thing.

And he [God] said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah? (1 Kings 19:11-13).

What was God telling Elijah? He was telling him that while He often manifests His power in terrifying displays of nature, He is not in nature. Rather, He manifests His power over nature to warn and punish nations, just as He had punished Israel with a drought. Elijah did not know how God dealt with man. He did not understand His methods. He could not understand why God allowed what had taken place with Ahab and Jezebel. But God told Elijah that He was not the wind. He was not the earthquake. He was not the fire. He was the still small voice. In his dealings with man, God truly accomplishes His purpose with the voice of Truth. Sometimes, however, He must first get man’s attention, and this is where His power is manifested. Man must come to understand God’s purpose, and realize that he must come to repentance and to obey His commands. What really changes people is the message of Truth. That word of Truth is proclaimed by His prophets, as Elijah had done. So Elijah had to realize that God was not done with Israel yet, in spite of what Elijah assumed was a failure. God had much work for him yet to do. Jezebel’s threats had been only minor setback.

So, the Lord said to him:

. . . Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria: And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room. And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay (1 Kings 19:15-17).

God was now in the process of raising up these human instruments to accomplish His purpose in the nation of Israel. As for being alone, God told him: “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18).

Elisha was now selected to minister to Elijah. Elisha was younger and Elijah’s age, no doubt, required a younger man to take up the slack.

So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him. And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee? And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him (1 Kings 19:19-21).

A very ugly event soon brought Elijah into Ahab’s presence again. Ahab coveted a neighbor’s field-a piece of property that was adjacent to his. When the neighbor-Naboth-refused to part with the field, Ahab pouted. Jezebel soon noticed and took matters into her own hands.

And there came in two men, children of Belial, and sat before him: and the men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, Naboth did blaspheme God and the king. Then they carried him forth out of the city, and stoned him with stones, that he died. Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, Naboth is stoned, and is dead. And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth was stoned, and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give thee for money: for Naboth is not alive, but dead. And it came to pass, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab rose up to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it (1 Kings 21:13-16).

God told Elijah to go to the king:

And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying, Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it. And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Hast thou killed, and also taken possession? And thou shalt speak unto him, saying, Thus saith the LORD, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine. And Ahab said to Elijah, Hast thou found me, O mine enemy? And he answered, I have found thee: because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the LORD. Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel, And will make thine house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the provocation wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin. And of Jezebel also spake the LORD, saying, The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel (1 Kings 21:17-23).

Recall that God had told Elijah to anoint Jehu as king. Later Jehu carried out this punishment upon the house of Ahab. We will examine these events later in this work.

Upon the death of Ahab, Ahaziah, the son of Ahab, took the throne. He too was an evil man, and an accident soon overtook him. “And Ahaziah fell down through a lattice in his upper chamber that was in Samaria, and was sick: and he sent messengers, and said unto them, Go, enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron whether I shall recover of this disease” (2 Kings 1:2). “But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to enquire of Baalzebub the god of Ekron? Now therefore thus saith the LORD, Thou shalt not come down from that bed on which thou art gone up, but shalt surely die. And Elijah departed” (2 Kings 1:3-4). Ahaziah was incensed at this reproof and demanded that Elijah be arrested. He sent an arrogant officer to apprehend him.

Then the king sent unto him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him: and, behold, he sat on the top of an hill. And he spake unto him, Thou man of God, the king hath said, Come down. And Elijah answered and said to the captain of fifty, If I be a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And there came down fire from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty. Again also he sent unto him another captain of fifty with his fifty. And he answered and said unto him, O man of God, thus hath the king said, Come down quickly. And Elijah answered and said unto them, If I be a man of God, let fire come down from heaven, and consume thee and thy fifty. And the fire of God came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty (2 Kings 1:9-12).

The third officer was not so arrogant.

And he sent again a captain of the third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up, and came and fell on his knees before Elijah, and besought him, and said unto him, O man of God, I pray thee, let my life, and the life of these fifty thy servants, be precious in thy sight. Behold, there came fire down from heaven, and burnt up the two captains of the former fifties with their fifties: therefore let my life now be precious in thy sight. And the angel of the LORD said unto Elijah, Go down with him: be not afraid of him. And he arose, and went down with him unto the king (2 Kings 1:13-15).

Now the king got the news firsthand. Because he was an idolater and refused to rely on God for healing, his fate was sealed. He died shortly thereafter.

The time had now come for Elijah to retire from active work. But what office would his successor Elisha hold? Elijah and Elisha crossed the Jordan River.

And Elijah took his mantle, and wrapped it together, and smote the waters, and they were divided hither and thither, so that they two went over on dry ground. And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more: and he took hold of his own clothes, and rent them in two pieces. He took up also the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and went back, and stood by the bank of Jordan; And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over. And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him (2 Kings 2:8-15).

Many erroneously believe Elijah was taken to heaven. Not so! The fact is: He was merely taken to another location. He was no longer actively engaged in the rigors required to do God’s work, but he continued to serve God. We find in 2 Chronicles 21 that ten years after the mantle was transferred to Elisha and his translation took place, he wrote a letter to the wicked king of Judah-Jehoram.

The account is as follows:

Now when Jehoram was risen up to the kingdom of his father, he strengthened himself, and slew all his brethren with the sword, and divers also of the princes of Israel. Jehoram was thirty and two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eight years in Jerusalem. And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, like as did the house of Ahab: for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife: and he wrought that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD . . . . And there came a writing to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, Thus saith the LORD God of David thy father, Because thou hast not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat thy father, nor in the ways of Asa king of Judah, But hast walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and hast made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to go a whoring, like to the whoredoms of the house of Ahab, and also hast slain thy brethren of thy father’s house, which were better than thyself: Behold, with a great plague will the LORD smite thy people, and thy children, and thy wives, and all thy goods: And thou shalt have great sickness by disease of thy bowels, until thy bowels fall out by reason of the sickness day by day . . . . And after all this the LORD smote him in his bowels with an incurable disease. And it came to pass, that in process of time, after the end of two years, his bowels fell out by reason of his sickness: so he died of sore diseases. And his people made no burning for him, like the burning of his fathers (2 Chr. 21:4-6, 12-15, 18-19).

Elijah was indeed one of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament period. From the time he began his active work for God, he was dedicated and zealous. He was sent to correct the kings of Israel, to warn them of the consequences of disobedience to God. He did this without hesitation, though at times his life was at peril. But he was very human and fled for his life at Jezebel’s threats. God gave him the assurances he needed, and he continued serving Him. He lived a long time after his retirement from active work. He was so famous, he is mentioned several times in the New Testament. He left an indelible mark on the people of Israel, and he is included in “the prophets” as one of the great men of the Old Testament (Heb. 11:32).

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