Men of the Bible
His name means: "Yahweh Is My God"
His work: Elijah was a prophet active in Israel in the middle of the ninth century BC. His primary work was to combat Baal worship and restore the worship of the true God of Israel. His character: Like Moses, who stood against the false gods of Egypt and the oppression of Pharaoh, Elijah was a prophet who stood against the worship of Baal at great risk to himself. To do so meant defying Ahab and Jezebel, Israel's royal couple, and trusting God to take care of him when his life was threatened by famine and violence. His sorrow: Though Elijah was not the only true prophet left in Israel, he appears to have thought he was, perhaps because the rest of the prophets were silent and in hiding. Exhausted after his battle with the false prophets of Baal and his narrow escape from Queen Jezebel, he became so despondent that he prayed God would take his life. Instead, the Lord sent an angel to strengthen him. His triumph: Elijah was a miracle-working prophet, whose powerful prayer life and whose persistence in speaking God's word helped preserve the faith of God's people during a time of religious persecution. Key Scriptures: 1 Kings 17-19
A Look at the Man
"How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him." Elijah's no-nonsense challenge seems all the more powerful, all the more compelling nearly three thousand years later because of the witness of his life.
Persecuted for speaking the truth, hunted by powerful enemies, he was a man with the unenviable task of speaking truth to those who held the truth in contempt. His enemies had not only embraced a lie but were forcing it on others. At times the task seemed too heavy to bear. But just when he thought he could not possibly go on, God supplied whatever he needed—rest, food, strength, hope. Elijah never lacked the grace to remain faithful to God. His dedication was unwavering.
It's tempting to think of the prophets as superhuman figures, fanatics who relished delivering one thundering pronouncement after another. But preserving the truth in a time of darkness is the costliest of ventures. It would have taken tremendous moral, emotional, and physical strength to stand against the king and queen, their prophets, and all the rank and file who had embraced their false gods. But strength wouldn't have been enough. Such a task also would have required love—love for God and for the people who had strayed so far from him. Love is what must have kept Elijah on the path God had chosen for him.
Elijah's strong words still strike a chord today. They remind us to stop wavering between two opinions, to stop hedging our bets and straddling the line when it comes to living out our faith in a world that is so often hostile to faith. They remind us that if the Lord truly is God, then we must follow him. And following him means loving him with all our hearts.Reflect On: 1 Kings 18:41–46; 19:1–8 Praise God: For hearing our prayers. Offer Thanks: For the way God has answered your prayers in the past. Confess: Any tendency to believe your prayers won’t make a difference. Ask God: To show you how to pray for the things he has promised.