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|October, 1999 (5760)||Vol. 25 No. 10|
Elijah The Prophet
Every name in the Holy Bible carries with it a very special meaning, such as, even the name of Jesus, which in Hebrew is Yeshua - meaning 'SALVATION'. The name Elijah, means 'MY GOD IS JEHOVAH.' This chapter of course, deals with The Prophet Elijah, and his special place in the overall program of The Almighty GOD. Interestingly enough, not much is written about the Prophet Elijah. In fact, about five (5) chapters cover his entire life. And yet, what is recorded, does strike a chord with anyone who has ever been exposed to the life of this great man. At the outset we must understand that though we do not know of his actual birth place, or who his parents were, or even anything about his childhood and years of adolescence, we do find him for the first time in the Scriptures confronting the king of Israel, and speaking for the God of Israel.
What personally amazes me, is the fact, that he is the last individual that is spoken of in The Old Testament, and one of the first individuals spoken of in The New Testament. In Malachi 4:5 we read, "...Behold, I will send you Elijah The Prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD..." If you are like I am, in respect of sometimes not thinking clearly as to the human factors surrounding the men and women in The Word of GOD, then we should both read once again James 5:17, which tells us that, "...Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are..." By the way, The New Testament way of speaking of Elijah is by using the Greek form which comes out to be Elias. Therefore, Elijah The Prophet in The Old Testament, is spoken of as being Elias in The New Testament. Beginning with the first created man, known as Adam, and including you and me, all of us are subject to like passions. This of course, includes Elijah The Prophet.
In order for us to fully understand that these men and women mentioned in The Word of GOD were indeed as much human beings as you and me, let us briefly look into the areas of passions that they were exposed to. For example, The Prophet Elijah was tested in areas that you and I are subject to as he was. These areas, included the realm of his spiritual, emotional, physical, and even in the material, of his every day life.
One of the most interesting statements found in The Word of GOD regarding an individual's spiritual position is found in I Kings 17:1, "...As The LORD GOD of Israel liveth before whom I stand..." Here we find Elijah The Prophet's spiritual position before The LORD. Notice that he relates himself as... "standing" before The LORD, AND NOT bowing. Now before we jump to any conclusion as to whether Elijah The Prophet was submissive or not, I believe we should understand the meaning of the word 'stand'! The Hebrew word used in this verse means 'to stand still' or 'to stand fast'. This of course gives us a better viewpoint of Elijah The Prophet's position before The Lord in the spiritual realm. He was standing still before the awesomeness of GOD, as well as 'immovable' in his call and service unto GOD! Elijah in his steadfast obedience describes his Spiritual realm by invoking 'The LORD GOD of Israel' as his personal Redeemer! He refers to The Almighty GOD as being in league with The Nation and people of Israel. This in itself testifies of his knowledge of Scriptures. The fact of the matter is, that he refers to GOD as a 'living' Deity, not an idol, or figment of someone's imagination. Therefore, Elijah's Spiritual relationship with The LORD was real and alive.
The LORD commanded Elijah to speak to King Ahab, and immediately sent him to the 'Brook Cherith'. The Spiritual testing for Elijah was that he had to declare by faith that no dew nor rain would fall upon the land of the kingdom of Israel, while on the other hand this meant that even Elijah would have no water for the necessities of life. As with all of GOD's servants that speak The Truth of The Word of GOD, sometimes, what The LORD commands to be spoken is either very difficult or nigh impossible, but never-the-less, GOD has spoken, thus, He also will perform! Notice if you will, that Elijah, "...went and did according unto The Word of The LORD." (I Kings 17:5). This of course is the wonderful way in which our LORD allows us the privilege to grow spiritually, that is, by our response to His command. Is it immediate and unequivocal? Is it with delay and with much groaning and griping? To grow in the spiritual realm, one must obey in faith what The LORD has spoken to us to do, or say! As Elijah obeyed The LORD, he was given the necessary water for sustenance, as well as bread and flesh, this was given to him by The LORD Himself through the ravens of the air! What a wonderful LORD we do have, that requires of us our total obedience, while at the same time, He provides, sustains, protects, and grants more and more growth in the spiritual sphere because we are His children.
This realm of testing is an area that much learning can be obtained from observing the life of Elijah The Prophet. The high-points in Elijah's life were usually followed by moments of depression. I believe, The LORD allows this to occur in the life of His choice vessels, in order to teach them a greater dependency upon His MERCIFUL and GRACIOUS OUT-STRETCHED ARMS! Our Heavenly Father's love and concern for each one of us, is demonstrated in a greater magnitude, when we are in the neediest of conditions!
The Prophet Elijah was given the privilege to be the instrument that GOD used to defeat the false prophets, while at the same time, the instrument that GOD used to constrain Elijah, was Jezebel! Emotionally, the Prophet Elijah had reached the summit of experiences. He witnessed "THE FIRE OF THE LORD", falling and consuming the burnt sacrifices, as well as the wood, the stones, the dust, even the water that had been poured on top of the sacrifices! What a show of GOD's might! Elijah's emotions must have been to their highest point! To see those that had mocked him and his LORD and GOD, defeated and disillusioned was an emotional high to say the least!
Almost simultaneously, King Ahab's wife, Jezebel, was bound and determined to bring the same fate upon Elijah that he had brought upon the False Prophets of Ba-al, that is, death itself! She therefore sent unto Elijah the following message, "...So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time." As soon as The Prophet Elijah was threatened by Jezebel, he arose and "...Went for his life, and came to Beer-sheba...". Here we find a classic example of depression following a period of exaltation. Can you imagine, a Prophet like Elijah running scared at the mere words of a wicked woman, such as Jezebel? It was at the very moment of victory, that the emotional stability of the Prophet was called to the test. So much so was the tension and pressure brought upon Elijah, that rather than with-stand Jezebel, he ran away, and his emotions took hold of him and brought him to a low ebb in his life. Elijah even went as far as to cry out to The LORD, "...It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers." By this very statement, one can understand the awful dilemma that Elijah The Prophet found himself in. Though there may be moments and instances of weakness on the part of GOD's servants, one reassuring factor is, that The Almighty GOD will always speak in tender love and mercy, even if it is a "...still small voice."
The remainder of Elijah's life shows forth the effect of GOD's call, that is, that "...The gifts and calling of GOD are without repentance." Therefore, whatever frailties a child of GOD may have, The LORD not only knows of them before hand, but He works His eternal purposes out, in and around and through them. How good it is for us to understand that as we "...walk through the valley of the shadow of death..." The LORD is with us in hard times, as well as in good times.
Sometimes, this area of testing, is one of the most difficult and paradoxical dilemmas that one has to deal with. The LORD Jesus Christ tells us in Mark 14:38, "...Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak." Indeed, the flesh is weak, therefore, our testings are primarily in the
area of the physical. In I John 2:16, we are told that there is a threefold front that tests us daily, "...the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." Elijah The Prophet was tested almost beyond endurance, when he fasted "FORTY DAYS AND FORTY NIGHTS". What physical agony, he must have experienced!
I remember, not too long ago, when I decided to fast for several days, that at the end of the second day, though I was spiritually ready and willing to continue my fast; my physical being was saying, ENOUGH ALREADY! Not so, with Elijah The Prophet, for he was totally immersed and surrounded by The Word of GOD, that is, his whole intent was to obey The LORD; Elijah The Prophet was also required to go the limit in the physical realm, in regards to his travels. We often tend to forget the limitations that these men of GOD had upon them, as they travelled from place to place, ministering The Word of GOD. The physical hard-ships that they encountered, though unfamiliar to us, never-the-less, they were real and difficult.
A case-in-point, is the call of Jonah to go and confront the city of Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness had come up before The Very Throne of GOD . Before Jonah actually obeyed GOD's directive for his life, he had to go through several hard-ships; some of which can be catalogued in the realm of the physical. Elijah The Prophet was not exempt from physical hard-ships, although, his testings were not as a result of sin, but rather as a result of the time in which he was living . A good example of Elijah's hard-ships and travels are found in II Kings 2. There we find Elijah The Prophet traveling from Gilgal to Bethel, and from Bethel to Jericho. Not only did this require the Prophet to travel many miles, but also, to traverse the Judean Hills, which of course in itself is a major task. Like-wise, we who are believers in The GOD of Elijah, will also from time to time be called upon to go through some physical hard-ships. How glorious and wonderful to know, according to The Scriptures that our LORD will never leave us nor forsake us.
In relationship to the material aspects of life not only are they indispensable, but as we know, in some cases even absolute to life itself. And yet in Matthew 6:25 we read what our LORD has to say on this very subject, "...Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" Later on in this passage, our LORD speaks of the needful requirement on our part, that is, nothing short of total and absolute FAITH, for He said, "...O ye of little faith?" We also read in Hebrews 11:6, "...But without faith it is impossible to please Him...", this of course is speaking of our relationship and our responsibility to our LORD and GOD. Elijah The Prophet was very much aware of this principle, that in order to please The Almighty GOD there must be an active faith life, and not a passive one. When Elijah approached the widow of Zarephath, he insisted that she make him a little cake 'FIRST'. Did you notice that The Prophet demanded, although the widow had already stated that she 'ONLY' had enough for her and her son, never-the-less, he insisted that he be fed first . Believe it or not, this situation required great faith on the part of not only the widow, but also on the part of Elijah The Prophet.
We often associate the necessity of faith in the realm of giving material things unto the LORD's work, and yet the individual who must accept and receive that which is being given for the LORD's work, must exercise an equal amount of faith in the sight of GOD, in order for the recipient to please GOD, as well as the giver. In I Kings 17:15 we read that, "...She went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days." Not only was the widow blessed as she obeyed The Word of GOD, but also her son, and if that were not enough, even her house was blessed of The Almighty GOD Himself.
This incident in The Prophet's life in relationship to the realm of testing in the area of the material, must have impressed and made such an impact on our LORD and Saviour's life, that in Luke 4:25-26, the LORD Jesus relates to this account in the life of Elijah The Prophet, "...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 through out 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." This account tells forth of the testing in the material realm, both in the life of Elijah The Prophet, as well as the widow of Zarephath. The material needs of both were met by the intervening, providing Hand of GOD. Lest we forget, the very One that spoke with authority about this great happening in the life of Elijah The Prophet, reminds us of His awareness in all matters, for He is, "...Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today and forever." Amen!!!
The Prophet Elijah was allowed many special experiences during his lifetime, but none so exciting and rewarding as his being taken up by a whirl wind into heaven. The wonder of it all, that a mere human being, would be allowed to side-step death itself and enter the portals of heaven and be ushered into the very presence of The GOD of Israel. One of the reasons that this took place in the life of Elijah The Prophet, is told to us in Matthew 17:3, where we read that Elijah appeared with Moses, as The LORD Jesus Christ transfigured Himself before Peter, James, and John. This was a fulfillment of Malachi 4:4, where we are told that The Almighty GOD would send Elijah The Prophet before the coming of The Great and Dreadful Day of The LORD!!! This of course, transpired in a period of four hundred years, that is, from the time it was prophesied until it came to pass. We see the beginning of its fulfillment in the life of John the Baptist, as Jesus our LORD spoke, the disciples understood that He was telling them that the Spirit that was upon Elijah was the same Spirit that indwelt John the Baptist. Therefore, though Elijah The Prophet did appear bodily before the coming of The Great Day of The LORD and we also know, that He will appear bodily before The Dreadful Day of The LORD , what Jesus our LORD is speaking about in Matthew 17, reflects more on The Spirit of GOD than on a servant of GOD . By this I mean, the appearance of Elijah The Prophet after his being taken up into heaven as recorded in The Scriptures, serves to remind us of GOD's faithfulness to His own WORD as well as, to show forth the love-bond between The MESSIAH of Israel and The Prophet of Israel . It also shows forth, the pre-eminence of The Spirit of GOD, as we read in Luke 1:17, that John the Baptist would accomplish his mission, in The Spirit and Power of Elias (Elijah).
In case you are asking yourself, what is the difference between, 'the great day of The LORD' and 'the dreadful day of The LORD': The Great Day is referring to the first appearance of Messiah Jesus our LORD almost 2,000 years ago. The Dreadful Day is speaking prophetically of THE SECOND ADVENT OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, when He will rule and reign as KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS!!! Amen! Some students of The Holy Bible, even believe that Elijah The Prophet will be one of the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation 11:3, which of course, would present him to the world once again in bodily form! But the overriding issue is, The Power of The Spirit of GOD that controlled and directed Elijah The Prophet, also prompted and guided John the Baptist, and you and I as believers today! Elijah The Prophet has an integral part in Jewish life today. Based on Malachi 4:4, wherever Passover is being celebrated, the guidebook for the celebration speaks of Elijah The Prophet as preceeding the advent of THE MESSIAH. Therefore, for centuries, Jewish people throughout the world have been and are still today, looking for MESSIAH to come, but first, Elijah The Prophet must come through the doors! This of course integrates Elijah The Prophet with The Jerusalem of GOD since it was in Jerusalem, that we read in Deuteronomy 16:16, that all males were to present themselves before The LORD every year.
You and I as believers in The Messiah of Israel, The LORD Jesus Christ, know according to The Scriptures, that 'The Spirit' that was in and upon Elijah came into the person and ministry of John the Baptist. As children of GOD we need to be available to share with 'the lost sheep of the House of Israel' (The Jewish people), not only that Elijah The Prophet, has already come, that is, in the person of John the Baptist, but that MESSIAH has come, as it is, "...written in the LAW OF MOSES and in the PROPHETS and in the PSALMS " (Luke 24:44).
The Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms incorporate the entire Old Testament, with over 313 prophecies concerning the coming of Messiah to Israel!!! Elijah was not only a prophet of GOD, but also a writer. We read in II Chronicles 21:12 that 'a writing' had been sent to Jehoram king of Judah by Elijah. It is comforting to know as we read GOD's Word that, our LORD has diversities of involvements for us to accomplish also, as we are faithful in the 'one' job He has appointed us to do and requires our faithfulness; after we have completed satisfactorily our assignment, then He (The LORD), will call upon us to perform other tasks. But please, let us remember that, "...Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might..." . The word 'might' that is used in this verse, is also translated to read 'power' (koach) in the Hebrew text. The Hebrew word for power (koach) is almost always associated with The Almighty GOD.
Therefore, we are commanded to do that which GOD has entrusted us with, in His Might and in His Power...
JERUSALEM OF GOD
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