Elijah was born in Gilead. He lived in the time of evil King Ahab, who turned the people from the worship of God back to heathen idols.
Elijah like other prophets was inspired by God to tell the people God's wishes. He spoke out against this bad king and his priests and their pagan ways. The hearts of the people were turned once again to the one God. For this, a chariot of fire came for Elijah when he died and was carried to heaven in a great whirlwind.At this very moment, the great Old Testament prophet Elijah is still alive. He lives on because he never died and was taken to heaven in Gods whirlwind. But even if God had chosen to allow Elijah to experience physical death, Elijah would remain in yet another of his many powerful manifestations. The apostle James, the half-brother of Jesus, saw to it.
Elijah appears in 1 Kings 17 and departs in 2 Kings 2:11, a span of only eight chapters of the Old Testament. But it is in the New Testament that we perhaps learn our most important lesson from the life of Elijah:
Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly . . . .
In James 5:17, the truth of Elijah is revealed, removing the cloak of mystery from our eyes. Elijah was like us. He was a normal man selected by God for great service because the spirit of Elijah was a spirit of prayer. He prayed earnestly. He also obeyed God, even when the instructions seemed irrational. The results changed the world.
Elijah was Gods messenger during a period of great rebellion in Israel. King Ahab and his decadent wife, Jezebel, worshiped the idol, Baal. They destroyed the altars of Jehovah God and led Israel into worship of the storm god who supposedly controlled the elements and fertility.
God answered by having Elijah announce that no rain would fall until God said so through Elijah. The drought would last for three and a half years, proving who was actually in charge of the elements. During this time, God miraculously sustained Elijah with food. First, God sent ravens to feed Elijah morning and evening by the brook Cherith (Kerith). But Gods provision required an act of Elijahs obedience. I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there, God told Elijah. There was no other place Elijah would find these airmailed rations.
When the brook ran dry because of the drought, God sent Elijah to Zarephath. There, he was fed by a widow whose meager flour and oil God supernaturally maintained.
Yet it was on Mt. Carmel that Elijah most powerfully revealed that he was mighty in spirit. He challenged four hundred and fifty of Baals priests to have their god send fire to consume their offering of an ox. All day long the priests fanatically wailed for Baal to send fireto no avail.