Christianity Knowledge Base

Elijah was a prophet in the Old Testament. He was sent by God to bring a message to king Ahab (and his people) to turn from the god Baal. The story is recorded in 1 Kings in the Bible.

Elijah's name means "God is the Lord" (Hebrew: אֱלִיָּהו; Old English: Elias; Greek: Ἠλίας)

Biblical account[]

The life of Elijah is recorded in 1 Kings in the Old Testament. During this era of history, many of the people of Israel had ceased to worship God. Under the influence of Abah, the king of the northern Kingdom of Israel, and his wife Jezebel, the people increasingly were worshipping Baal, a fertility god. Elijah was sent by God to king Ahab, who was king of the northern kingdom of Israel to call the king and the people back to the worship of God.

According to 2 Kings, Elijah was one of two people in history to never die (the other was Enoch, as described in Genesis). Elijah left the Earth in a chariot of fire, and passed down his role to his succesor, Elisha and it became a popular belief that Elijah would return in the days of the Messiah. Jesus later assured his disciples that Elijah did return, in the form of John the Baptist, but none recognized the prophet for who he truly was.

The Old Testament shows that Elijah revealed God's power by resurrecting a dead boy (1 Kings 17:22), summoning fire directly from the skies (1 Kings 18:37-39), and possessing incredible physical ability (1 Kings 18:46).

Elijah at Mount Carmel[]

Elijah at Mount Horeb[]

Purpose of Elijah's ministry[]

Elijah's mission was to call the people to return to God, turning them away from Baal. His name summarizes his ministry because it means, "My God is Yahweh" (El = God, i = my, Jah = Yahweh). At Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18:37 this mission is clearly articulated.

Elijah brought a mission of judgement. 1 Kings 21:20-28 displays God's judgement and then mercy on Ahab. 1 Kings 19:15-18, where God came to Elijah in quietness, shows God's judgement against those who followed Baal.

To fulfil his mission, Elijah directed his ministry to both the king and the people. He spoke for God directly to the king (for example 1 Kings 18 both before and after the Mount Carmel incident). He revealed God to the people through drought and miracles. In 1 Kings 17:1 showed that God sent a drought, thus challenging the people's trust in Baal because Baal was meant to prevent droughts. Again, at Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18 God challenged the people's trust in Baal because he could send fire from heaven and rain, whereas, Baal could not, even though Baal was believed to be a god who was in control of the weather and thunder.

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