The God of Elijah

Elijah was, without doubt, one of the most impressive of the Hebrew prophets. As a praying prophet, he was known for his miraculous answers. He boldly took on King Ahab and his idolatrous wife Jezebel. Elijah called for a showdown on Mount Carmel with the false prophets of Baal. He challenged in the contest that “the God who answers by fire, he is God.” (I Kings 18:24).

The Baalites agreed, and the contest began. When the prolonged frenzy finally ended, Elijah ordered the disheveled altars and insisted that the offerings be soaked in water!

Then Elijah prayed, ‘O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known that day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that thou, O Lord, art God, and that thou has turned their hearts back.’

1 Kings 18:36-37

‘Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt offering, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.’

1 Kings 18:39

God decided to take Elijah home to Heaven via spectacular translation rather than by death. When it was time, Elijah and his successor, Elisha began their journey to Elijah’s point of departure. Elijah performed his final miracle as they came to the Jordon: the prophet allowed the sleeve of his mantle to touch the surface of the river, and they went across on dry land! Elisha the younger prophet was impressed.

As they walked on together, Elijah asked Elisha, “Ask what I shall do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha said, “I pray you, let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” And he said, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if you do not see me, it shall not be so.” (II Kings 2:9-10).

Then as the two prophets walked on and talked, “behold a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elijah saw it and cried, My father, my father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen! And he saw him no more.” (verses 11 and 12).

When Elisha could catch his breath and realize he must return, he looked down and saw the old mantle of Elijah” that had fallen from him, and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan.” (verse 13).

We can only imagine the thoughts stirring in the mind of Elisha as he stepped with excitement back to his first obstacle. How would he deal with the opposition his master had taken authority over? Ahab was dead, but Jezebel was still very much alive and active in leading idolatry over the land. Could he possibly face the odds without Elijah?

But now, he had to pass his first test: he unfolded the old mantle of his master that had been left to him. He led the sleeve drop to the surface of the water, crying out Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah? (verse 14).

He soon found the answer: “And when he had struck the water, the water was parted to the one side and to the other; and Elisha went over.”

Elijah’s God of power was present with his successor! The Spirit of Elijah was still at work in Israel, just as had been promised.

Let’s consider that Elijah is a type of Jesus Christ, and Elisha is a type of the followers of Christ who will carry on His work when their Master has ascended to Heaven. Jesus had commanded them, “And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49, RSV).

Like Elisha, we must honor our Master, our Lord Jesus Christ and go to prayer until we are cleansed, filled and anointed with the Holy Spirit. In the second chapter of the book of Acts, we learn that 120 obeyed Jesus’ call to go back into the city and begin the prayer meeting, believing Christ and the Father would give the Holy Spirit. Jesus had promised them a final time: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, RSV).

Remembering that John the Baptist had promised that Jesus would baptize His followers with the “Holy Spirit and with fire” (Matthew 3:18), those in the Upper Room should not have been surprised when…

suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 2:2-4, RSV

The same Spirit that had rested upon and empowered Jesus was now upon His followers to work with the same power as their Master had. He had spent time teaching on the nature and works of the Holy Spirit through them, and now it had come to pass.

Did it work for them? The rushing wind was the breath of God bringing them alive! The tongues of fire represented their refinement of the Spirit’s sanctifying, cleansing power! And the other tongues would allow them to speak to the thousands down below in the city, multitudes who had come to Jerusalem from all over the Mediterranean basin to observe the feast. In obedience to Christ’s command to go and tell, the Spirit-filled believers filed out of the Upper Room down to street level and began speaking in the languages that would be understood by the crowds.

The crowds were amazed: How could these Galileans speak their languages? When someone sneered that “they must be drunk!” Peter the apostle explained, “This is that which the prophet spoke, that in the last days God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh.” (Joel 2:28). Then the apostle went on to explain that the Lord Jesus whom they had crucified, God had raised from the dead. He explained that it was meant by God that His Son should die for the sins of all — both Jews and Gentiles. Luke reported that many of the hearers were cut to the heart by the message they heard. They asked, “What shall we do?” Peter answered, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.” (Acts 2:37-39, RSV).

Just as the promised power of God worked for Elijah, so it worked for Elisha. And just as surely as the power of the Holy Spirit was present in Christ to do His mighty works, so the same proved true in the lives of His followers across the centuries of church history.

What genuine Christian believers must remember with deep conviction in these times is that Pentecostal power came and it remains! It did not come and then go!

But Pentecostal power is for those who pray, those who ask, seek and knock; those who obey.

It is believed that over 500 believers were present on the Mount of Olives on the morning Jesus ascended back to the Father. They heard the orders to head back to the city and start praying for the Holy Spirit. Luke records that 120 obeyed (Acts 1:15).

What happened to the 380 who did not return to pray? We’ll never know. In fact, we shouldn’t dwell on the indifference, disobedient majority; we must be grateful for the obedient, passionate minority. Don’t we realize from the outcome that if there is an obedient, passionate minority, the disobedient, indifferent minority cannot prevent the outpouring of the Holy Spirit!

Where are the hungry, obedient, passionate prayer warriors who will pray the price for the fresh outpourings of the Holy Spirit? This I believe to be the only thing that will turn the tide of our present spiritual depression.

There is no doubt in my mind that our Heavenly Elijah (Jesus) is wondering when His earthly Elishas (believers) are going to ask, “Where is our double portion of the Holy Spirit that has been promised?”!

May God help us to wake up before it’s too late!

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