There are many people that impact us over the course of a lifetime. As I head ever so quickly towards my 50s and simultaneously reflect on over 30 years of walking with Jesus, I realize that there are many people that have influenced 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 from his life seem endless. Every time I revisit the passages on his life (1Kings 17-2Kings 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!
Elijah was Humble yet 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!
As Elijah learned the scriptures, he became zealous for God (1Kings 19). He reminds us of another who is of humble beginnings and also said, “Zeal for they house has consumed me” (Jesus) Elijah was very grieved to see his nation, God’s chosen people, filled with the worship of false gods, so he prayed (James 5). In the midst of his 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 32).
Elijah’s example reminds me of the Proverb, “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion,” (Proverbs 29:1). 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. Through God’s courage in me, I want to have the “right word in season” to bring grace and healing to the hearers.
Elijah Knew, Trusted & Obeyed God’s Word
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. ”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). Later in Genesis 5 we read of Enoch who had such sweet fellowship in walking with God, that God took him straight into heaven without tasting death (Genesis 5:24). Anne G. Lotz, in her book The Magnificent Obsession, wrote about what it means to walk with God. She said, “If I am going to walk with God, I am going to have to walk at His pace and in His direction.” 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. 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.
Elijah was a man of “Like Passions”
This man of Scripture was a real person. He had ups and downs. He seems superhuman at times, but really he was a real man. The Bible records Elijah’s depression so that we might no him for real. I love seeing Elijah’s humanness so that I might learn the lessons he learned through this hard time. And I love that our God puts real stories in the Bible. If the Bible were a fictional book, then it would record only superheroes. But since the Bible is a real history book, it records people as they really were, flaws and all, so that we can learn from them. Reading about how Elijah got into a depression, and then the steps that God lead him in to get him out of that depression ministers to me greatly.
There is so much more to be said and to be learned from this great man. My life has been forever changed by the time I have spent getting to know Elijah. I hope that you too can spend some time getting to know Elijah, and indeed, all of the people that God has placed in His book. Each person and story is there for a reason. And each one shows us a different facet of Jesus. May you be blessed as you study God’s Word.