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While many people like to stick with the New Testament when it comes to reading the Bible, I must confess that the Old Testament has a special place in my heart. I love reading the testimonies of faith heroes like King David, Queen Esther, Joseph and more. Their lives are so inspiring and if we're honest, filled with enough drama and conflict to keep me on the edge of my seat. One of my all-time favorite testimonies in the Bible is that of the Prophet Elijah.
This man was on fire for God. Literally at his request the Lord answered with a consuming fire from heaven (1 Kings 18:36-38). Elijah was sent on mission from God to turn the Israelites hearts back to their One True God. When we first read of Elijah, the Israelites have been worshiping both the God of their ancestors, who is the One True Living God, and the false God Baal. Enough was enough. God sent Elijah to confront their wavering faith and lead them to make a decision.
This is where the fire comes in. Elijah brings the Israelites together on Mount Carmel along with the Prophets of Baal. He proposes that the prophets of Baal call on their God and Elijah on his and the one that answers by fire will be the true God worthy of the Israelites wholehearted devotion. So the prophets of Baal call on their God and nothing happens. But when Elijah calls on his God a consuming fire falls from heaven, the Israelites fall on their faces in worship and proclaim that the God of their ancestors is the One True God. Elijah has a fascinating testimony, one you may already be familiar with. So I want to share with you 4 more things about Elijah you might not already know.
1) We don't know much about his past.
When Prophets are first introduced in the Bible, we are usually given some family lineage. No so with Elijah. We only know he comes from a town called Tishbe. It’s almost like Elijah comes out of nowhere. However, he could not have come at a better time. At this point the Israelites are the furthest from God that they had ever been. They desperately needed Elijah's ministry more than his history.
2) Elijah became depressed to the point of wanting to die.
After that miraculous consuming fire on Mount Carmel that I just told you about, Elijah enters an extreme depression. So much so, he wants to die. (1 Kings 19:3-4) Elijah was hoping that Mount Carmel would cause a national change in Israel but it didn't. Not like he thought it would and now the Queen at the time, Jezebel, plotted to kill him. Not quite the outcome he was expecting at all. He lost hope, passion, and the desire to live. However, God encourages Elijah and speaks with Him on Mount Horeb. (1 Kings 19:9-18) After this Elijah is able to get out of this severe funk and continue on with his ministry even better than before.
3) Elijah never died.
As I just shared with you, one of the reasons Elijah wanted to die was because he was afraid Queen Jezebel was going to kill him. But Jezebel’s threat was a straight out lie. She would never kill Elijah. In fact, Elijah never even died. He was whisked up into Heaven by a whirlwind. (2 Kings 2:11).
4) Elijah's key strategy was prayer.
Elijah performed miraculous acts in the name of the Lord, but James 5:17-18 reminded us that he was an ordinary man just like us.
“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.” - James5:17-18ESV
There was one strategy Elijah used that empowered him beyond belief and that was prayer. One time while living with a widow and her son, the son died and Elijah prayed over the boy and he was brought back to life. (1 Kings 17:21-22) When Elijah called on the Lord for fire on Mount Carmel he said a simple prayer. (1 Kings 18:36-37)
Elijah reminds us any life that trusts in God through prayer will make a significant impact in the Kingdom of God despite our history, who we are, or how we feel. If there is anything we learn from Elijah it's that prayer is truly powerful.
Christina Patterson is a wife and stay-at-home mom with a passion to encourage women in the love of Jesus Christ and the truth of God’s Word. When she is not folding laundry or playing blocks you will find her with her head deep in her Bible or a commentary. She holds her masters in Theology from Liberty University and is the founder of Beloved Women, a non-profit providing resources and community for women to truly know who they are in Christ: His Beloved. She blogs at belovedwomen.org.