Elijah in the Bible: Story and Lesson

by David Peach · Print Print · Email Email

The exciting story of the life of Elijah is covered in several chapters in 1st and 2nd Kings. Elijah is often remembered for his bold dealings with rulers and false prophets. He is also known for the fact that he often dealt with problems much like the rest of us. At times he failed to see God’s hand as the one in control. However, unlike many of us, he still chose to trust God even though he did not always understand God.

Following are some of the highlights in the life of Elijah. We will also look at some of the applications of these stories for our own lives.

Brook Cherith (1 Kings 17:1-7)

When Elijah is introduced in 1 Kings 17 he is standing before the wicked king of Israel named Ahab. He told Ahab that it would not rain in Israel for 3 more years. There had already been a drought for 6 months. This was punishment by God because of the wickedness of Ahab and Queen Jezebel.

Immediately after telling Ahab the fate of the nation, Elijah ran to the brook Cherith where God had directed him. This was a place God used to teach Elijah to trust Him. God fed Elijah from the brook and through birds. Because of the drought the brook dried up. Elijah had obeyed the command to go to the brook and he stayed until God clearly told him to leave.

Widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:8-24)

God then told Elijah to go to the city of Zarephath where he was to meet a widow woman. She apparently knew about Elijah and his faith in God. She agreed to take care of the prophet even though she had no money and only enough food for her and her son to eat their final meal. She trusted Elijah when he said she could trust in God. Yet her faith was not completely in God Himself. Elijah had told her that God would make her food last until the drought was over.

Her son fell ill and died. The widow was concerned that God had been reminded of her sin because of housing Elijah with her. Elijah carried the boy to his bed and prayed over him. Elijah also did not know if God had brought this punishment because of him or not. Yet he still trusted God.

After the prophet raised her son from the dead, the widow proclaimed that she too trusted in the God of Elijah and that his words were the truth from God.

Prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18)

After the three and a half years of drought were complete, God told Elijah to return to Ahab. The king had already gone in search of water for the nation. Elijah met Obadiah who was also in search of water by the king’s command. Elijah sent Obadiah to fetch the king while he began preaching to the people.

During Elijah’s preaching, he revealed that he believed he was the only prophet of God left alive who had not been killed by the wicked ruler. But we later discover that God had preserved thousands of people ready to share the truth once the people were prepared to return to God.

Elijah asked Ahab to bring his false prophets to Mt. Carmel to allow their god Baal an opportunity to show himself strong against the God of Elijah. This was done by preparing two bullocks as a sacrifice. The false prophets were allowed to choose their animal first. They were to cut it up and lay it on the alter prepared with wood. Whichever deity rained down fire to consume the offering would be declared the true God.

The Baal worshipers called upon Baal from morning to mid-day. They did not get an answer. The false prophets began jumping up and down on the alter. They cut themselves and cried out to Baal until the evening. The whole time Elijah boldly mocked them and said their god was probably asleep or maybe on a trip.

It was finally Elijah’s turn to offer his sacrifice to God to do with as He pleased. Elijah called the people together and prepared the bullock and the altar. Then he asked the people to bring 12 barrels of water to pour on the wood, sacrifice and alter. Elijah had prepared a trench around the alter to contain the water. Remember this water would have been a very precious commodity to the people.

Elijah then spoke a simple 63 word prayer (1 Kings 18:36, 37). God rained down fire which consumed everything around the sacrifice. Even the stones and water were burnt up. Elijah then had the false prophets rounded up and killed.

Rain! (1 Kings 18:41-46)

And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get you up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. 1 Kings 18:41

And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get you up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. 1 Kings 18:41

Elijah proclaimed to Ahab that the rain was on the horizon and to be prepared. However, Elijah had not yet seen the rain. He had his servant go and get a weather report. This was done 8 times. Finally there was a small cloud in the sky.

Elijah told Ahab that he had better get moving off the mountain while there was time or the rain would delay him. At that point Elijah took off running to escape the torrent of rain and the anger of the king.

Jezebel (1 Kings 19:1-8)

Ahab returned home to his wife and told Jezebel all that Elijah had done and how that Elijah slew all the prophets of the false god Baal. She was furious and sent a message to Elijah that she would kill him by that time the next day.

Elijah was scared and at a loss for what he should do. He took his concern to God. Though he was at his wit’s end and was ready to give up, the Lord told him to lay down and take a nap. Then God provided food for him. He slept some more and then ate again. The Bible says that Elijah was refreshed and nourished enough to make a 40 day trip to escape from the wicked queen.

Conversation with God (1 Kings 19:9-18)

Elijah arrived at a cave where he had an intimate conversation with God. He confessed that his stress was wrapped up in the fact that he was the only one left who could stand up for God in the world. After several attempts to get Elijah to realize that God was all powerful and could take care of anything, God told Elijah that there were 7,000 people who still believed in God in Israel (1 Kings 19:18).

God then led Elijah to Elisha who would eventually take his place as the chief prophet of God in Israel.

Death of Ahab (1 Kings 21, 22)

Ahab continued to do wickedness in the sight of God. The Bible says that his wife Jezebel was the one who prodded him into his wicked deeds (1 Kings 21:17-26). Elijah proclaimed that the dogs would soon lap up the blood of Ahab because of his wickedness.

In battle Ahab was slain by an arrow randomly shot into the air. As his chariot was washed clean the dogs licked his blood from the streets as was prophesied (1 Kings 22:37, 38).

Passing the Mantle to Elisha (2 Kings 1, 2)

The first two chapters of 2 Kings tells about how Elijah was take by God into heaven. Elisha and Elijah were on a journey. Elisha had asked for a double portion of the spirit of God to be on his life as was on the life of Elijah. Elijah said that if the younger prophet was with him when he went to heaven then he would be given his desires.

The two men were separated by a fiery chariot and Elijah was carried into heaven in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11). Elisha picked up the mantle of Elijah. When the younger prophet returned to his home the other prophets knew knew immediately that the spirit of Elijah was upon the younger man (2 Kings 2:15). There was something obviously different about his demeanor.

Lessons from Elijah

The Bible tells us that Elijah was a man like the rest of us. He struggled with the same passions and doubts that we have (James 5:17). This does not necessary mean he was involved in passionate sins, it simply means that he had the same temptations we have. Yet, through prayer and faith, he was able to trust the Lord.

Elijah Obeyed God

When Elijah was lead by God to the brook and later to a cave, we see that Elijah obeyed. But he did not just obey the call to go, he stayed until he was later told to leave. Elijah was in tune with the leading of the Lord in his life. He made decisions based on what he knew God was leading him to do. I believe this helped him in the area of being bold. He could confidently say and do what he did because he knew the Lord’s leading.

Elijah Trusted God

There were times when Elijah wasn’t sure what the Lord’s leading was. He did not always know how God was going to work, but he knew enough to trust. He trusted when he could not see the rain coming. He trusted when he did not know how to escape from Jezebel. He was a man who learned to trust God.

Elijah Humbled Himself to God

When Elijah was in the cave conversing with God, he seemed to have an arrogance about him. God kept asking him the same question over and over. Elijah’s answer was, “I do what I do because there is no one else to do Your work for You.” Elijah seemed to be of the mindset that God could not take care of His own problems. Elijah finally humbled himself and God then revealed that there were many other people standing on his side ready to help if Elijah would let them.

What has God taught you through the life of Elijah? We would love to hear your lessons in the comments below.

Take a look at this similar Bible study:

Gideon Bible Story

Resource – The Holy Bible, King James Version

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