ELIJAH – SERVANT OF GOD
Elijah, the great prophet of the times of Ahab, king of Israel, is first identified as “Elijah the Tisbite, who was of the sojourners of Gilead” (1 Kings 17:1). In 1 Kings 16:29-34 we read of the impieties of Ahab, culminating in his patronage of the worship of Baal, god of his queen Jezebel, calling for a judgment of Jehovah announced beforehand, as is often the case, by a faithful prophet of Jehovah. Malachi 4:5 names Elijah as the forerunner of “the great and terrible day of Jehovah,” and the expectation founded upon this passage is alluded to in Mark 6:15; 8:28; 15:35, 36; Luke 9:8; 9:19; Matthew 16:14; 27:47-49.
The interpretation of Malachi’s prophecy foreshadowed in the angelic annunciation to Zacharias (Luke 1:17), that John the Baptist should do the work of another Elijah, is given on the authority of Jesus Himself (Matt. 11:14). The appearance of Elijah, with Moses, on the Mount of Transfiguration, is recorded in Matthew 17:1-3; Mark 9:2-13; Luke 9:28-36. In Matthew 11:14 and Mark 9:13 Jesus again identifies the Elijah of Malachi with John the Baptist. The fate of the soldiers of Ahaziah (2 Kings 1) is in the mind of James and John on one occasion (Luke 9:54). Jesus Himself alludes to Elijah and his sojourn in the land of Sidon (Luke 4:25, 26). Paul makes use of the prophet’s experience at Horeb (Rom. 11:2-4).
It is obvious from Holy Scripture that God did not intend to furnish us with a complete character-study of His prophet Elijah. James 5:17, for instance, reveals only that his nature was like ours and he earnestly prayed. But the work of Elijah affords an instance of the powerful supplication of a righteous man. He is introduced with suddenness and his appearances and disappearances seem abrupt. Obviously, the purpose of the inspired historian was not to give a complete biography of any individual, whether prophet or king, but to display the working of Jehovah upon and with the kingdoms of Israel and Judea through the prophets. Therefore, few personal details are recorded, unless they have a direct bearing upon his message.
Though a detailed representation of the prophet’s inner life is not revealed, still, from the surface of the inspired narrative one observes Elijah’s faith in Jehovah as God of Nature and as covenant God of the patriarchs and their descendants; his consuming “zeal” against the false religion which would displace Jehovah from the place which must be His alone; his keep vision to perceive hypocrisy and falsehood, and sharp wit to lash them, with the same boldness and disregard of self that must needs mark the true prophet in any age. (ISBE)