Elijah: Ordinary Man, Extraordinary God:
“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.” (James 5:16-18).
For the past couple of weeks, I have been studying the life of Elijah, a prophet of the Lord. His story can be found in the Bible in 1 Kings 16-19 and 2 Kings 1-2, for those of you who would like to read more about this interesting Bible hero. In order to understand more fully the example of Elijah’s life, and the lessons he teaches us today, it is important to understand the world in which he lived. The Bible says, “In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab the son of Omri became king over Israel; and Ahab reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty-two years. Now Ahab did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him.” (1 Kings 16:29-30). When Elijah came on the scene, the nation of Israel was being ruled by a wicked king, a king who was more evil than any of the kings before him. In that day, everyone did what was right in his own eyes, and that reminds me very much of the world that we are living in today.
In the midst of this crooked and perverse generation, the Word of God declares, “And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” (1 Kings 17:1). The Lord sent Elijah to the wicked king and he prophesied that it would not rain in the land again until Elijah said so! This man had a lot of courage! He was bold! He had faith! Let me give you a quick overview of the amazing miracles that the Lord performed through the hands of Elijah:
Elijah asked a widow who was about to cook her last meal to give him something to eat, and when she did, God supernaturally provided for her oil and flour to never run out. Elijah raised this widow’s son from the dead. Elijah called for a showdown on Mount Carmel between the false prophets and their gods and Elijah and the living God. Elijah called down fire from Heaven, proving to the people that the Lord was the only true God. Elijah was given supernatural strength and speed to run for 40 days and nights to the mountain of God. Elijah called down fire from Heaven to consume fifty soldiers in the army of a wicked king. Elijah parted the waters of the River Jordan by striking the waters with his cloak. And finally, Elijah was taken up to Heaven in a whirlwind, without dying.
To me, the most amazing part of the story of the life of Elijah is found in our key Scripture text in James chapter five. The Bible says that Elijah was a man with a nature like ours. In other words, he was just as human as we are. Wow! Elijah didn’t perform those miracles because he was a prophet of God, but as an ordinary person with faith in an extraordinary God. May this truth challenge our hearts to be like Elijah. James said, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” In other words, the earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results. Let us pray in faith and take a stand for righteousness like Elijah did, and believe God to see miraculous things happen.
Pastor Chris Jordan