Elijah: Life and Work of a Worship-Defending Prophet

Prophet Elijah,  a Hebrew who lived in the 9th century BC. C.. He was considered in the Jewish and Christian religions, called as the “interpreter of God”, the miracles that Elijah fulfills manifest represents the power of Yahweh who is God of Israel over the father god known as Baal; Despite this, the biblical traditions about this prophet are complex and controversial.

Historic context

Elijah begins to prophesy at the time of the reign of Ahab, who ruled all Israel between the years 874 and 853 before Christ, the biblical stories say that King Ahab married Jazabel who was the daughter of King Sidon, Jazabel believed in witchcraft and sorcery and Ahab after marrying her began to move away from God and join the religion that his wife now had, not only Ahab’s heart deviated from the precepts of God, but also all the people, which caused the execution of the most of the prophets of Israel and as a consequence of iniquity, God made Samaria survive a great drought and therefore a famine in the region.

The book of the chronicles of the Kings of Israel, 1 Kings 18: Elijah and the prophets of Baal, tells us how the events were at that time

18.- After a long time had passed, in the third year, the Lord said to Elijah: «Go and meet with King Ahab, soon I will send rain». 2: So Elijah went to see Ahab.

The famine in Samaria was very serious. 3: So King Ahab sent for Obadiah, the manager of the king’s palace. Obadiah was a true follower of the Lord. At a time when Jezebel decided to end the prophets of the Lord, Obadiah selected a hundred prophets and hid them in two caves, fifty in each, and gave them water and food.

5: King Ahab said to Obadiah, “Come with me, we’ll check every spring and stream in the land to see if we can find enough grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we don’t have to kill them.” 6: Each one chose the part of the country that he was going to visit. Ahab went only one way and Obadiah only the other. 7: While Obadiah was on his way, he met Elijah. Recognizing him, Obadiah fell facedown before Elijah and said, “Are you really my lord Elijah?”

8: Elijah replied: Yes, it’s me. Go and tell your lord that Elijah is here. 9: Then Obadiah said to him: If I tell Ahab that I know where you are, he will kill me! He never did anything bad to you, why do you want him to die? 10: As sure as the Lord your God lives, that the king has searched for you everywhere. When looking for you in a country, if the ruler of the country said that you were not there; then Ahab forced the ruler to swear that you were not there. 11: And now you tell me to go tell the king that you are here.

12: If I tell him that you are here, then the Spirit of the LORD will take you to another place, King Ahab will come here, and not finding you will kill me. I have followed the LORD since I was a child. 13: You heard what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the LORD and how I hid a hundred prophets of the LORD in caves, fifty in one cave and fifty in another. He brought them food and water. 14: Now you say, “Go and tell your master that Elijah is here.” He is going to kill me.

15: Elijah answered him, “As surely as the LORD Almighty lives in whose presence I have been, I tell you that today I will see the king.” 16: So Obadiah went to meet King Ahab and told him where Elijah was. King Ahab went to meet Elijah, 17: and when he saw him, he said to him: “Are you the man who causes so many problems in Israel?” 18: Elijah answered him: “I do not cause problems in Israel. You and your dad’s family have been the cause of the problems. You made a big mistake when you stopped obeying what the LORD says and started following false gods.

19: Now tell all Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel and also bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of the false goddess Asherah who report to Queen Jezebel.20: So Ahab summoned all the Israelites and the prophets to a meeting on Mount Carmel. 21: Elijah approached all the people and said to them, “How long will you continue to doubt? Decide if the LORD is the true God and then follow him. But if Baal is the true God, then follow Baal. The people didn’t answer a word.

22: So Elijah said, “I am the only remaining prophet of the LORD, but there are four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. 23: So bring two bulls. Let the prophets of Baal take one, kill him and cut him to pieces. Let them bring wood, but without setting it on fire. Then I will do the same with the other bull and I will not set fire to the sacrifice either.24: You the prophets of Baal will ask your god and I will ask the LORD. He who answers with fire is the true God. The people thought it was a good idea.

25: Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal:—Since you are the majority, first choose your bull, prepare it and ask in the name of your gods, but without setting fire to the sacrifice. 26: So the prophets took the bull that the people gave them and they prepared it. They prayed to Baal until noon. They shouted at him: “Baal, please answer us!” But there was only silence, no response as the prophets danced around the altar they had built.

27: At noon, Elijah began to laugh at them. He told them, “Shout louder!” If he’s god, he maybe he’s busy or maybe he’s relieving himself or maybe he went out for a while. Maybe he is sleeping and if they pray a little harder they will wake him up.28: And they began to scream louder and cut themselves with knives, swords and spears until they drew blood, as was their custom.

29: It got late, but the fire still did not appear. The prophets continued to prophesy until it was time to make the evening sacrifice, but absolutely nothing happened. Baal didn’t make a sound. He didn’t answer anything. Nobody listened to them. 30: Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come together with me. So all the people were with Elijah. The altar of the LORD had been destroyed, so Elijah fixed it. 31: Elijah found twelve stones, one for each of the twelve tribes named after the twelve sons of Jacob, whom the LORD had called Israel.

32: Elijah used the stones to set up the altar to honor the LORD. Then he made a ditch around the altar that could hold fifteen liters of water. 33: Then Elijah arranged the wood on the altar, cut the bull into pieces and placed them on the wood. 34: Then he said to them, “Fill four jars with water and pour all the water over the pieces of meat. Then Elijah said, “Do it again. Then he said, “Do it a third time.” 35: The water ran to fill the ditch around the altar.

36: At the time of the evening sacrifice, the prophet Elijah approached the altar and prayed thus: “LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Now I ask you to prove that you are the God of Israel and that I am your servant. Show them that you ordered me to do all this. 37: LORD, hear my prayer, show people that you, LORD, are God. That way people will know that you’re bringing them back to you.”

38: So the LORD sent down fire that burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and even the earth around the altar. The fire also dried up all the water in the ditch. 39: All the people saw this, fell down and began to say, “The LORD is God! The LORD is God!” 40: Then Elijah said: “Seize the prophets of Baal! Let no one escape! So the people captured them and Elijah took them to Kishon Creek and killed them all.

Characteristics of the mission of the Prophet Elijah

Elijah, not only is he a prophet, but he was the prophet of God, we know that not all God’s messages are clear and that there may be some questions because we will clarify the most frequent ones about the mission of this great Prophet:

What was the situation of the Israelis?

Although Elijah in the bible tells us that Ahab tells him to inform his people to climb Mount Carmel, there he does not explain the current situation of the people, contemplate what it is like to climb a mountain in times of drought where the sun is at its highest point and even in the light of dawn, it is evident that it is mired in poverty and it will be too difficult for you to climb. Let us remember that there were three and a half years of drought and the truth is that this event had to leave its mark.

Why is Elijah likely to feel some fear?

The prophet Elijah was surrounded by 450 priests of Baal plus the people of the people of Israel, let us remember that Obadiah had already warned him that Queen Jezebel had already executed many servants of God and that Ahab was looking for him to execute him. But still Elijah strongly opposes the worship of Baal. The Bible explains that Elijah was a “man with feelings similar to ours”, so it would not be strange to think that given all this he felt some fear, he was a single man who only had the faith of Obadiah but he would not reveal himself Against his king, although he had an excellent feeling, he always obeyed Ahab.

Without counting on the great resistance of the false prophets, perhaps they also thought what we think that a single man will never be able to with all of them, joining all of this with the support of King Ahab, who does not have any sympathy for Elijah either. We can even think that, faced with an unfaithful people, an apostate king and some bloodthirsty priests, Elijah must feel terribly alone.

 Why was Baal worship so horrible?

Although we do not believe them in this religion, rituals were openly practiced that allowed things like:

  1.  men and women engaged in prostitution.
  2.  sexual orgies were practiced.
  3.  and even children were sacrificed.

Not to mention that an entire nation had been disoriented to serve false gods, forgetting the true God. For all these reasons, Jehovah tells Elijah to move away because a drought is approaching that would last until the prophet himself decreed its end.

events during the drought

It is said that Jehovah had sent Elijah to Ahab to let him know of a drought that would last until the prophet himself decreed its end, as we have already mentioned, and since we already know that it lasted a few years for Elijah to appear before the king again, and when he did, it was to tell him to gather the people together with the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel.

The bible in 1 Kings 17:1, tells us about: Elijah and the drought:

17. Elijah was a prophet from the village of Tishbe, which is in Gilead. He went and said to King Ahab, “I come from the presence of the living LORD, the God of Israel. By the power of him, I assure you that neither rain nor dew will fall for years to come, until I give the order».

2: Then the Lord said to Elijah: 3: “Go from this place to the east and hide near the Brook Cherith, which is on the other side of the Jordan. 4: You will be able to drink water from the stream, and I have commanded the ravens to bring you food.” 5: Elijah did as the LORD told him and went to live near the Cherith stream, east of the Jordan River. 6: Every day the ravens brought him meat and bread, both in the morning and in the evening, and he drank water from the stream.7: As there was no rain, after a while the stream dried up. 8 Then the LORD said to Elijah,

9: “Go to Zarephath in Sidon and live there. In that place lives a widow whom I have commanded to give you food.”10: So Elijah went to Zarephath and as he entered the gate of the village, he saw a widow who was gathering wood for the fire. Elijah said to her, “Can you bring me some water to drink?” 11: While she went to fetch the water, Elijah added, “And a piece of bread, please.”

12: The woman answered him, “I assure you before the LORD your God that I have no bread. I only have a little flour in the bowl and I have only a little olive oil left in the jar. Today I came to gather two logs to bake at home the last meal I have left. My son and I would eat it and then starve ourselves.

13: Elijah said to the woman: —Don’t worry, go and make the food you said, but first make me a little cake with the flour you have and bring it to me. Then cook for you and your son. 14: The LORD, the God of Israel, says: “That pot of flour will never run out nor will the oil run out, and it will continue like this until the LORD sends rain on the earth.”15: So the woman did as Elijah had told her and both he and the woman and her son had enough to eat for a long time.

16: The bowl of flour and the jar of oil were never empty, just as the LORD said through Elijah. 17: After a while, the son of the widow, who was the mistress of the house, got sick and was so sick that he was barely breathing. 18: The woman then said to Elijah:—You are a man of God. Can you help me? Or did you come here only to remind me of my sins and kill my son? 19: Elijah said to him, “Give me your son. Elijah took him to the upstairs room where he was staying and laid him on his bed.

20: Then Elijah pleaded with the LORD with a loud voice, “LORD my God. This woman is hosting me. Are you going to break her heart? Are you going to kill her child as a reward?” 21: Then Elijah stretched out on the child three times, pleading with the LORD in a loud voice, “LORD my God, let this child live again.” 22: The LORD answered Elijah’s prayer and the boy began to breathe again. He was alive!

23: Elijah picked him up and brought him down from the room to the woman’s house and handed him over. He told her, “Look, your son is alive. 24: The woman replied, “Now I know that you are truly a man of God and I know that the Lord truly speaks through you.

rain falls

According to the book of the chronicles of the Kings of Israel, 1 Kings 18: Elijah prays for the rain, he tells us every detail and how Elijah patiently waits and obeys the orders that the Lord sends them:

41: Then Elijah said to King Ahab, “Now, eat and drink, because a heavy rain is coming. 42: Then King Ahab went to eat. At the same time, Elijah went up Mount Carmel. On the top of the mountain, Elijah stooped down and put his head between his knees 43: and said to his servant, “Look toward the sea. The servant went as far as he could see the sea, but he replied, “I don’t see anything!” Elijah told him to go again, and he did so seven times.

44: Returning for the seventh time, the servant said to Elijah:-I see a small cloud, the size of a man’s fist. It comes from the sea. Elijah told the servant, “Go tell King Ahab to get his chariot ready to go home. If he doesn’t come out now, the rain will stop him.

45: Time passed, the sky darkened with clouds, the wind blew and a heavy rain began. Then Elijah called out to him, “Run and tell Ahab, ‘Get into his chariot and go home. If you don’t hurry, the rain will stop them!” And Ahab set out at once for Jezreel. 46: Then the Lord gave Elijah power and he adjusted his clothes to run, and he ran so much that he reached Jezreel before Ahab.

Prophet Elijah and his second mission

Elías begins to run in the rain while the sky turns black. Even if he still had a good distance to get to Jezreel. And although we can say that Elijah was quite old, he advanced very quickly, it was “the very hand of the Lord” on him, which gave him strength and induced his body. So much so that it is said that he has even left behind the horses that pull King Ahab’s chariot. But in reality, the wickedness of Queen Jezebel had no limits and realizing that her worship of Baal no longer existed, she utters some words that scare Elijah:

The bible says in 1 Kings 19: Elijah flees to Sinai and the Lord speaks to Elijah:

19 When Ahab got home, he told Jezebel everything Elijah had done, including how he had killed all the prophets of Baal. 2: Then Jezebel sent this message to Elijah: “May the gods hurt me and even kill me if by this time tomorrow I haven’t killed you, just as you killed them.” 3: Elijah was afraid and fled to save his life. He went to Beersheba, a city in Judah, and left his servant there.

4: Then he continued alone all day until he reached the desert. He sat under a solitary broom tree and asked to die: «Enough, Lord; take my life, because I am no better than my ancestors who have already died”.5: Then he lay down and slept under the tree. While he was sleeping, an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat!” 6: Elijah looked around him, and near his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a pitcher of water. So he ate and drank, and went back to bed.

7: Then the angel of the Lord came back, touched him and said, “Get up and eat some more, otherwise the journey ahead of you will be too much for you.” 8: Then he got up, ate and drank, and the food gave him enough strength to travel for forty days and forty nights until he reached Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. 9: There he came to a cave, where he spent the night.

Then the Lord said to Elijah:

And there he went into a cave, where he spent the night. And the word of the Lord came to him, which said to him, What are you doing here, Elijah? because the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant, they have pulled down your altars, and have killed your prophets with the sword; and only I am left, and they are looking for me to take my life.

11: He said to him, Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord. And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and mighty wind rent the mountains, and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD; but Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake; but Jehovah was not in the earthquake.12: And after the earthquake a fire; but Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire a still small voice.

13: And when Elijah heard it, he covered his face with his cloak, and went out, and stood at the door of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him, saying: What are you doing here, Elijah? 14: He he answered: I have felt a keen zeal for Jehovah God of hosts; because the children of Israel have forsaken your covenant, they have pulled down your altars, and have killed your prophets with the sword; and only I am left, and they are looking for me to take my life. 15: And Jehovah said to him: Go, return your way, through the desert of Damascus; and you shall come and anoint Hazael king of Syria.

16: You shall anoint Jehu son of Nimsi as king over Israel; and Elisha son of Shaphat, of Abel-meholah, you will anoint so that he will be a prophet in your place. 17: And whoever escapes the sword of Hazael, Jehu will kill him; and whoever escapes the sword of Jehu, Elisha will kill him. 18: And I will leave seven thousand in Israel, whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and whose mouths have not kissed him.

Elijah hoped things would get better

Previously we said that in the bible Elijah is referred to as a man with feelings similar to ours, so it is perfectly understandable that he had illusions when everything seems to be going well and is something normal for everyone. . Without a doubt, he has a lot to think about, since he has just experienced exceptional events. He has witnessed a great victory for pure worship and for the true God. As he walks the 30 kilometers (19 miles) that separate him from Jezreel in the heavy rain, he must have deluded himself thinking that Ahab will have to change.

Really When everything is going well we begin to think that things will continue to improve, and even that our worst problems will finally be over. The truth is that I don’t see anything strange that Elías would have felt that way, his sufferings were so great and this took them so far, that in a few hours later he felt so much fear and discouragement that he wanted to die.

 The prophet Elijah was not and is not the only man of faith who has yielded to fear before.

Jehovah uses the amazing to comfort Elijah

Let’s reason a little, fear had paralyzed Elijah, let’s remember that he received a terrible threat from the kings just at the moment he thought that everything he had done together with God, Elijah was truly discouraged and disconsolate. Only the appearance of the almighty God reminded him that he was on his side. As the story points out, Jehovah is not found in any of these spectacular natural forces.

Elijah knows that Jehovah is not a mythological nature god like Baal, known to his deluded followers as “the rider of the clouds,” the God who brings the rains. Jehovah is the true Source of all incredible natural forces and is infinitely superior to all of his creations. In fact, not even the physical heavens can contain it the bible tells us in; 1 Kings 8:27:

But is it true that God will dwell on earth? Behold, the heavens, the heavens of heavens, cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built?

And after this, Elijah felt that there was no longer any reason to fear Ahab and Jezebel!

Elijah fulfills the command of the Lord

In the bible it is written in: 1 Kings 19:19, as Elijah complies with the orders of the Lord even when at some point he felt discouraged, heartbroken and eager to die.

Elisha’s Call:

19: As he set out from there, he found Elisha son of Shaphat plowing with twelve yoke before him, and he had the last one. And Elijah passing before him, threw his cloak over him. 20: Then leaving the oxen, he came running after Elijah, and said: I beg you to let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you. And he said to him: Go, come back; what have I done to you? 21: And he turned, and he took a pair of oxen and killed them, and with the oxen’s plow he cooked the meat, and gave it to the people to eat. Then he got up and went after Elijah, and served him.

Elijah in the Jewish and Christian traditions

There are those who think that in the words of John the Baptist there were many things of the prophet Elijah, it was said that he reincarnated in him and came to prepare the path of the son of God.

Matthew 11:7-15 Malachi 4:5, tells us: Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.

In fact in: 2 Kings 1:8 he makes reference to John’s mission and the clothing he wore.

“And they answered him: A man who had a dress of hair, and girded his loins with a leather belt. Then he said: It is Elijah the Tishbite.

The title or name given to Elijah in the scriptures is also used in different ways, such as: Elijah the Prophet or Forerunner: In this example Elijah is a name given to one who is a forerunner, such as John the Baptist, who has been sent to prepare the way for Jesus. Restorer: It is also applied to people for reasons of the particular missions that they would have fulfilled, such as John the Revelator. Elijah represents in the Jewish tradition the wait, in the Israelite dwellings during all the Easter commemorations. The Book of Malachi foresees that Elijah will return on Judgment Day.

Like Elijah, sometimes we feel dejected before life situations, it is not surprising that the immense power of the Creator is reflected in us, so we must have faith. Of course. That brave and faithful prophet, who had fought so hard against false worship, was once again at work. If we too wholeheartedly accept the inspired words of God, that is, “the comfort of the Scriptures,” we can follow Elijah’s example of faith.

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