There are many people that influence us over the course of a lifetime. As I head ever so quickly towards my fifties and simultaneously reflect on over 30 years of walking with Jesus, I realize that there are many people that have impacted me in my life. There are Christian mentors and leaders that God has placed in my life to learn from, for which I am very thankful. There are also real people in Scripture that have left their imprint on my life through the transformational work of the Holy Spirit. The list is long of both living mentors and of historical figures from the pages of Scripture. However, over the past 10 years of my life, the Lord has captivated my attention by the life of one famous prophet, the prophet Elijah.
Elijah is a greatly honored prophet for Hebrews, and to this day, there is a seat at the Passover meal left empty for his return. As I have contemplated the life of this man, the lessons to learn seem endless. Every time I revisit the passages covering his life (1 Kings 17; 2 Kings 2), I find there are new lessons in faith, courage and obedience. I would be honored to share just a few revelations here, as there would not be room enough to share them all!
Humble, Zealous & Bold
In 1Kings 17:1 we see that Elijah grew up in a small wilderness town. He was a “nobody” by probably most estimations of the day. He was not royalty; He was not taught in the best schools, but Elijah learned the Scriptures as a boy, and He believed them! In his simple humility, he had faith to believe the Scriptures.
As Elijah learned the scriptures, he became zealous for God (1 Kings 19:10,14). He reminds us of another who is of humble beginnings who was known for His zeal for God. In John 2:17 Jesus’ disciples were reminded of the prophecy in Psalm 69:9 regarding the Messiah’s zeal for God, which said of Him, “Zeal for thy house has eaten me up.” Elijah points us to Jesus. He was very grieved to see his nation, God’s chosen people, turning away from the true God to worship false idols. In response Elijah prayed. The book of James tells, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit (James 5:17-18). In the midst of Elijah’s prayer and zeal for God, He was led to confront King Ahab. Where every one else in Israel seemed to be weak-kneed and afraid; Elijah went to stand before the King. He brought a bold word for the king that was in line with the promises of scripture (see Deuteronomy 28:15,23-24).
Elijah’s example reminds me of the Proverb, “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion” (Proverbs 28:1). I want to learn from Elijah’s example. I am a simple girl from a small town in Alaska. My natural human tendency is to be timid. I avoid conflict and am more likely to try to solve a problem by being “nice.” I see in Elijah’s strong courage a picture of my Bold Messiah, who was never afraid of a conflict. He did not solve problems through being “nice.” May I be transformed by Jesus to be more like Him, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Through God’s courage in me, I want to have the “right word in season” (Proverbs 15:23) to bring grace and healing to people.
Trusting & Obedient
Throughout the commentary on Elijah’s life, we read the words “the word of the Lord came to Elijah” and then we read, “he went and did according to the word of the Lord”(1 Kings 17:2,5; 17:8-10; 18:1-2). What a simple yet significant concept. Elijah did what God told him to do. Obedience. The principle and life example that Elijah set for us over and over again was to wait for God’s instructions and then follow them. I know this sounds so much easier than it is to do, but this is the basis of what it means to “walk with God.”
From the very beginning God created us for this purpose, to walk with Him and know Him as Adam and Eve did before the fall (Genesis 3:8). There are many examples in scripture of people who show us the essence of what it is to walk with God. In her book, The Magnificent Obsession, Anne Graham Lotz wrote about Abraham’s walk with God. She points out that, just as when walking with friends, in order for two people to walk together they must walk at the same pace and in the same direction, so it is in walking with God. If we are to walk with Him, we must walk at His pace and His direction. She adds, “One thing that I have discovered is that God won’t adjust His pace or direction to suit me. I have to adjust my pace and direction to His if I want to walk with Him” (p. 140). This means I need to obey His revealed will as a process of walking with Him. Elijah knew the will of God because he knew the Scriptures. Even when God told him to do something that did not make any natural sense (like being fed by ravens at a drying brook or taken care of by a poor Sidonian widow) Elijah went and obeyed God.
I want to know the Word of God like Elijah did, and ultimately like Jesus does. Jesus is the Living Word of God who teaches us the revealed will of God. May I lean in to hear Him speak to me so that I can follow what He says. Jesus said that those that build their house on the rock are those that not only hear His word, but also put it into practice (Luke 6:47-48). I know that if I am listening to God, and following His instructions, then no matter what comes to pass and how absurd it might seem to others, God will take care of me.
There is so much more to learn from the life of Elijah. Just from this section of his life in 1Kings 17, we have learned of his example of humility, faith and zeal for God. We have also seen his willingness to walk with God, day by day, taking steps of obedient faith. I hope you will be as inspired by the life of this prophet as I have been, and as you study him, may you be reminded of all the ways he reveals Christ to us.