What Does "Elijah" Mean?
by Wayne Blank
Elijah Was A Normal Human
Elijah was an ordinary human being, who knew hunger (1 Kings 19:6), weariness (1 Kings 19:5), and fear (1 Kings 19:2-3), just like any other. After being threatened by the wicked Jezebel, he "went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree; and he asked that he might die, saying, "It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers." (1 Kings 19:4 RSV)
Elijah was a great man of God, but human. Merely human, with no power of his own. So how did Elijah perform those great miracles?
God's Spirit and God's Power
When Elijah declared a drought upon the land, it was God who actually did it. (1 Kings 17:1)
When the widow's oil was miraculously multiplied at Elijah's word, it was God who actually did it. (1 Kings 17:14)
When Elijah called down the fire from heaven, it was God who actually did it. (1 Kings 18:38)
When Elijah raised the widow's son from the dead, it was God who actually did it. (1 Kings 17:22)
The Role Of The Prophets
Just as the Law of God spans the entire Bible, so too does the role of the prophets, whose purpose was to provide a witness and a warning at critical times. Elijah, apart from his own ministry in his own time, was chosen to symbolize the function of the prophets, just as Moses represented the Law. Moses and Elijah were seen, in vision, in The Transfiguration for that reason.
The term Elijah continued to be used to represent the prophets, just as, for example, Washington has come to sometimes mean the American government, long after George Washington's own lifetime. And, like American Presidents, who get their power from the people who elect them, God's prophets get their power from the God who chooses them. Presidents and prophets have no power of themselves.
A Later "Elijah"
John The Baptist was the Elijah, the prophet, who was to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus Christ:
"For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John; and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come." (Matthew 11:13-14 RSV)
But John was John, he wasn't Elijah, he was the prophet who was to come.
That same "spirit and power of Elijah," which is actually the Spirit and Power of Almighty God, will again surface, in the most powerful and spectacular version ever, in The Two Witnesses of God, just prior to The Return Of Jesus Christ:
"Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of The Lord comes." (Malachi 4:5 RSV)
Fact Finder: Will the message of God's two witnesses be accepted by the world?