ELIJAH – THE PROPHET OF FIRE

THE MEANING OF HIS NAME
           
            El = God
             i = my
            jah = Jehovah
           
                        Thus: “My God is Jehovah”
HIS BACKGROUND
There is no record of his parentage, neither any definite reference as to his exact place of birth.
                        “Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead” 
Since no discovery of a site by the name of Tishbe or anything similar has been made; some Bible scholars render this passage as “Elijah the Jabeshite, from Jabesh-Gilead”. Jabesh-Gilead is the region west of Gilead, east of the Jordan (Unger’s Bible Dictionary pl102).
OVERVIEW OF HIS LIFE
He was three times fed by divine supplies:
1.  By ravens – 1 Kings 17:6
2.  By a miraculous increase of the widows food – 1 Kings 17:15
3.  By an angel – 1 Kings 19:5-8
He was a fearless reformer – 1 Kings 18:17-40
He was not afraid to rebuke Kings – 1 Kings 21:20 ; 2 Kings 1:16
He was a great prayer-warrior – 1 Kings 17:20-22; 18:36-38; James 5:17
He was subject to discouragements – 1 Kings 19:3-4
He was not perfect, he was capable of mistakes – 1 Kings 19:14-18
He was honoured by God – 2 Kings 2:11 ; Matt.17:3
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
Omri, the father of Ahab, was a great leader and organizer and had brought the northern kingdom, Israel, to a high level of economic and political vitality; gaining dominance over the southern kingdom of Judah. Early in his reign he promoted trade with Phoenicia, and as a result gained protection for the northern flank of his kingdom as well as economic independence from his enemies the Aramaeans (Aram-Damascus to the N.E.). Possibly, in his attempt to consolidate his position with the Phoenicians, he caused his son Ahab to marry Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal the priest-king of Tyre. Jezebel was responsible for introducing Baal worship into the northern kingdom of Israel . (Pictorial Bible Atlas pp 108-110)
Elijah appeared on the scene at a time when there was great evil in the land. .

BAAL:  (Unger’s Bible Dictionary p413)
  • a common Canaanite word for “master” or ” lord”. * one of the chief male deities of Canaanite worship.
  • the son of El, the father of the gods and head of the Canaanite temples.
  • also called “the son of Dagon” an ancient Canaanite god associated with agriculture. Thus Baal was a farm-god.
  • worship included animal sacrifice, ritualistic meals, and lewd or indecent dancing.
  • the “high places” had rooms for sacred prostitution by male and female prostitutes <see 1 Kings 14:23-24 ; 2 Kings 23:7>.

ASHERAH: Lady of the sea and consort (wife/queen) of EL Chief goddess of Tyre. Frequently represented as a nude woman riding on a lion with a lily in one hand and a serpent in the other. A divine prostitute. She and her colleagues specialized in sex and war and her shrines were temples of legalized vice. (Unger’s p412)
ASHERAH POLE:   A symbol of the goddess Asherah.
EL: The Hebrew name for God. A generic name for God in Hebrew. The Hebrew use of the name had no connection to paganism, it was simply a generic term. (Unger’s p293).
The gaiety and lewd character of Baal worship always had a subtle attraction for the people of God. They eventually adopted the name Baal and compounded it in the names of their children: eg. Jerubbaal, Ishbaal, Meribbaal . In times of revival and returning to God these names were altered, Baal being replaced by “Bosheth” meaning “shame” . Various cities and towns were also compounded with the name baal.
“Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to provoke the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger than did all the kings of Israel before him.”
This was the state of the kingdom of Israel, to which Elijah was called to prophecy.

A FAITHFUL AND FEARLESS SERVANT
Elijah was faithful to God and obedient to His commands, and had no fear of the wicked and ungodly king Ahab. After the division of the nation under Jeroboam, the kings of the northern kingdom were notoriously ungodly and as a result there was no representative of God among the people
Upon this ungodly scene enters Elijah, appearing unheralded and uninvited before Ahab as God’s representative.
“As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years.” <1 Kings 17:1 NIV>
Elijah condemns the ungodliness of the king and the nation.

“The LORD, God of Israel”: He identifies the true God and reminds Ahab that God is still alive; and is still the God of Israel..
“whom I serve” (lit. “before whom I stand” KJV): The expression indicates one who stands in the service of a king (NIV study Bible), and in this case the King of the universe. Elijah reminds Ahab that he may be a great and mighty king, but God is still greater than Ahab. Elijah had this confidence because of his “standing” before God  
A sinful person cannot stand in God’s presence because no sin can enter His presence; . Only the redeemed person can enter or stand in God’s presence.
“there will be neither dew nor rain”: The Lord God of Israel, the mighty God, the ruler of the universe; He is going to overrule Baal the god of the farm;
When God’s people turned aside from following Him, He sent a drought upon the land. God also sends a drought into the lives of His people today when they cease to be obedient to His word and turn aside from following Him.


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