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  • Lindsay Esterline

The Prophet Elijah (Study Notes)

There are several references to Elijah in the New Testiment, most notablly the Transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36), He is clearly a "big deal" in biblical history, so who was he and what does God want us to learn from him?



Raising of the son of the widow of Zarephath

Who was the Prophet Elijah?

  • Elijah’s name means “Yahweh is my God” so he had God fearing parents.

  • Elijah was from Tishbe in Gilead.

  • Similarities between Elijah and John the Baptist.

  • Wilderness and boldly calling for repentance

  • Confronted the evil of the king

  • John the Baptist’s ministry was in “the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17), fulfilling the prophecy of Malachi 4:5–6.

  • adherent of the old customs by his simple dress: skins girt about the loins with a leather belt (2 Kings 1:8)



Story Context:

  • Ahab (874 to 853 BC) was the 7th king of Israel and the worst (1 Kings 16:30)

  • Ahab married Jezebel, daughter of a priest of Baal and king of Sidonia (16:31).

  • Baal is a storm god.

  • Tyre and Sidon were Phoenician sister cities known for their opulence and wickedness.

  • Sidon was located within the boundaries given to the tribe of Asher (Joshua 19:28), but Asher never controlled it, due to Israel’s failure to completely abolish the Canaanites as God had instructed them (Deuteronomy 20:17; Judges 1:31).

God is true to His Word (1 Kings 17)

  • 1 Kings 16:34 Hiel’s sons were killed because he tried to rebuild Jericho in spite of what Joshua said (Joshua 6:36).

  • God sent Elijah to say there would be no rain for 3 years. [Rain rep. the HS?]

  • God said Elijah would be protected and fed (ravens).

  • “Go hide thyself” (v3). Private preparation for further service.

  • Elijah had to go “there” (v 4; where God directed) to benefit from the blessings.

  • There is no record that he questioned how ravens could bring food or how a brook could keep running in time of drought.  He fully obeyed. (v5; Is 33:16)

  • God’s blessing was miraculous, consistent, and sufficient

  • Another test of obedience and faith (v7):

  • The words “some time later” mean literally, “when God’s purpose has been fulfilled.”

  • God leads us ON - forward in our lives

  • God leads us to OTHERS -  2 Corinthians 1:4

  • God leads us to TRUST - trust in HIM, not in His gifts (ie. the brook or ravens)

  • The widow’s flour and oil lasted the entire drought as promised (v16).

  • Elijah had faith to take God at His word.

  • Elijah had faith to make an unusual request. (feed him 1st)

  • Elijah had faith to declare God’s faithfulness, and the widow was faithful.

  • [Flour and oil (bread) represents the HS? She started with just enough.]


Elijah prayed over the widow’s son 3 times.

  • In Hebrew three, shelosh[f.], sheloshah [m.] means harmony, new life, and completeness.

  • Why after witnessing the flour and oil miracle would the widow say, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.” (v24)?

  • Was the trial of losing her son allowed to make her faith complete?


Only God can make it rain (1 Kings 18)

“Then the fire of the Lord fell…’(v38)

  • When the altar was repaired. (Have you allowed your relationship with God to falter as you built up altars to sin?) [12 stones - 12 means perfection and authority/perfect govt]

  • When the sacrifice was offered. (Have you given every piece of your life to the Lord?)

  • When the water was poured. (Pagan priests known for trickery. What have we allowed to take the place of the ‘real’ fire? Traditions? Music? Sermons? Pastors?)

  • When the prayer was said. (Do you ask for the fire?)

  • When the motive is pure. (Do you want the fire for your glory or for God’s?)


The fire from heaven caused the people to see their error, and repent. 

  • “If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” (v21)

  • When all the people saw this (God’s fire), they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!” (v39)

  • The fire led to the rain.


Faith:

  • Elijah told Ahab “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” (v41) This was before he prayed in v42.

  • He believed that God would do what He said He would do. 


The promise of rain was on condition of obedience (Deut. 11:10-17), so drought was not an arbitrary consequence. 


Prayer: 

  • Elijah prayed once for fire and seven times for rain.

  • Seven is a holy number that often represents completion or divine fulfilment.

  • His prayer was accompanied by watchfulness (Colossians 4:2, Psalm 130:5-6)

  • When his servant saw a small cloud, he claimed rain was coming.

  • He didn’t wait for dark skies.


God never leaves us alone (1 Kings 19)

Elijah ran:

How did this man of faith get to such a low?

--He was mentally, physically, and spiritually exhausted (3 years of drought and living with a warrant on his head, plus the all day events of Mt. Caramel). 

  • When the servant told him that Jezabel was planning to kill him still he ran instead of relying on God for protection.

  • Then he chose self pity. Elijah wanted to die. Is that the same as wanting to commit suicide?

  • Despondency is a sin (EGW)

  • I can relate to Elijah here (Vego closing/selling/breaking lease)

  • Papa wanting to die, but assured us he would not “off himself”

Notice how God chose to minister to Elijah in his time of despair.

  • God gave Elijah food and rest. (v5-7)

  • God addressed his mental state: “What are you doing here?” (v9) [Face reality?]

  • God restored Elijah spiritually by revealing Himself and His plan. (v15-18)

God asked him, “What are you doing here?”

  • Elijah’s response showed he was focused on the negative situation, not what God had already done for him.

  • His circumstances lead him to take his eyes off of the God who has led him thus far. 


A Still, Small Voice

Child whispering in her Grandfather's ear

When do you whisper?

Who do you whisper to?

Was your conversion a fire from heaven experience, or a quiet moment?

  • God’s whisper is personal: it is for you before it is for everyone else.

  • God’s whisper has a purpose: He still had plans for Elijah and Israel.

  • God’s whisper is powerful: God’s voice is most powerful when it is most personal. Elijah needed a friend/assurance not a display of power.

  • God’s whisper is our peace: God spoke directly to Elijah’s needs. Elijah felt alone and dejected. So God told him he wasn’t alone (there were 7,000), and gave him a job.

  • Has God ever whispered to you?

  • God’s whisper is His MO: How many “mountain top experiences” are in the Bible vs the quiet moments?

  • How many miracles have you experienced vs the quiet leading of the HS?


“Elijah’s deepest prophetic experience takes place on his pilgrimage to Horeb (Sinai), where he learns that God is not in the storm, the earthquake, or the lightning. Nature, so far from being God’s embodiment, is not even an adequate symbol. God is invisible and spiritual and is best known in the intellectual word of revelation, “the still, small voice.””


God draws near to us because he wants us to love and trust Him. He wants a relationship.


This is not even the end of Prophet Elijah's story! Keep reading your Bible to see how God ended the conflict with Ahab and Jezebel. Then read on to learn how Elijah was taken to heaven in the coolest way possible (2 Kings 2)!


Resources:

EGW; Prophets and Kings.


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