Posted by: Fr Chris | July 18, 2019

Elijah the Great Prophet in our lives

Elijah or Elias is considered the greatest of the prophets during the time of the kingdom of Israel. God raises him up to call King Ahab and the people of Israel back to worshipping the one true God, and to abandon the pagan gods that have been introduced by Queen Jezebel and local Canaanites.  The king rejects Elijah, and God sends a drought and famine into the land. Elijah goes off to the brook of Cherith, where ravens bring him food.

preachbrotherbob: Be Content With Jesus

Once the stream dries up, he goes off to Syria where he lodges with a pagan widow. There he raises her son from the dead, and daily replenishes their stock of flour and oil so that they survive the famine, in thanksgiving for her taking him in.

Finally he returns to Israel, where Ahab blames the prophet for Israel’s troubles, instead of blaming himself. Then we have the dramatic scene of the sacrifices, where God sends down lightning that consumes not only the sacrifices of Elijah but the altar and the water around the altar. The priests of Baal are wiped out, and Elijah flees to Mount Horeb, where he is gifted with the vision of God passing by his cave, not in the storm or the earthquake or the fire but in the little breeze that carries the thin small sound of silence.

My Father's Son: Finding the Lord

St Gregory of Sinai says of this:

In some of us the Spirit appears as a whirlwind of awe, dissolving the mountains of the passions and shattering the rocks of our hardened hearts, so that our worldly self is transpierced and mortified. In others the Spirit appears as an earthquake, that is to say as a sense of inward jubilation or what the fathers more clearly define as a sense of exultation. In others He is manifested inwardly as a fire that is non-material yet real; for what is unreal and imaginary is also non-existent. Finally, in others—particularly in those well advanced in prayer—God produces a gentle and serene flow of light. This is when Christ comes to dwell in the heart, as St Paul says (cf. Eph. 3:17), mystically disclosing Himself through the Holy Spirit. That is why God said to Elijah on Mount Horeb that the Lord was not in this or that—not in the particular actions He manifests Himself in to beginners—but in the gentle flow of light; for it is in this that He attests the perfection of our prayer.

Perfection in prayer – that is something that all of us should be striving for as members of Christ’s Body the  Church. Elijah could only do what he did because he listened to the Holy Spirit, the ruach elohim, the Spirit of God that moved across the void to create the universe when God spoke at the beginning of time.  The Spirit carries him during his tribulations, the Spirit raises him up, the Spirit sustains him. When we face our own trials, we will fall down  if we look to be saved by our own actions. Only when we turn to God and listen to His promptings and rely on His graces will we flourish as Christian people.

God can act as He pleases- that is a lesson that Elijah and a lot of the prophets had to learn. Ravens were considered unclean birds by the Jews, but of all the birds of the air it is ravens that bring him food.  He expects that he will die, lying under the bush, only to be awakened by an angel and given food that miraculously appears.  Like us, Elijah would much rather God do what  Elijah thinks would work best, but God always has a better idea.

His Holy Hill: Psalm 143

The blessing of wheeled vehicles that we celebrate, asking his intercession to bless  cars, motorcycles, bicycles, wheelchairs, comes from his assumption into God’s glory in the fiery chariot. For the Jews, Elijah would circle the earth, waiting to announce the Messiah, as he could not enter heaven yet. For us, Elijah is one of the two witnesses on Mount Tabor, confirming Who Jesus is. Again he appears  in Revelation, chapter 11, along with Enoch, the other prophet taken by God in Genesis 5. Together they warn the people against the Antichrist.

Did the Prophet Elijah Actually Ascend 'Into' Heaven? | MYSTAGOGY RESOURCE CENTER

Like the Jews, we expect Elijah to come and announce the Messiah, but at His Second Coming. Thus on Christmas Eve a place is left empty at the table for Elijah, as the Jews leave an empty place at Passover for him.  Elijah has a unique role therefore as a prophet who brings together Christians and Jews, and for that matter also the Muslims. Further he is the spiritual founder of the Carmelites, as their first monks lived on Mount Carmel, which was the home of Jewish mystics and prophets.

Mount Carmel | mountain ridge, Israel | Britannica.com

Cliffs of Mount Carmel 

Besides asking Elijah to intercede with God for the protection of our vehicles, let us especially ask him to intercede for us to be alive with the Ruach Elohim, the Spirit of God, that we listen to the Holy Spirit. God may come to us with the force of an earthquake to melt our hearts, or in gentle quiet, but however He comes, may Saint Elias help us to hear God’s voice and to act accordingly.


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