Elijah the prophet lived during hard times in Israel. First, there was a severe drought. It did not rain for three and a half years (James 5:17). Food was scarce and people were hungry. Even the king barely had enough grass to keep his animals alive.
This was also a time of persecution. Two of the most wicked people in history were in power. Ahab was a ruthless and ungodly king and his wife Jezebel was malicious and tyrannical. The Bible says she massacred the prophets of God (I Kings 18:4). Life was so dangerous that a God-fearing man named Obadiah hid one hundred of these prophets in caves and fed them with bread and water.
The government was obviously in a corrupt condition and the nation was weakened. Lack of leadership and character left them vulnerable to their enemies the Syrians.
We might think at first that all this would have humbled the people. Actually, any one of these trials should have. But the land was full of idolatry. The scornful king and his rebellious wife promoted and financed the building of an idolatrous temple in Samaria and many Israelites followed their lead. God’s own chosen nation became so numb in their heart that they had no real conviction about religion. “And Elijah came to all the people, and said, ‘How long do you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.’ But the people answered him not a word” (I Kings 18:21). The true religion of God makes men better. It lifts them to a higher plane of integrity, righteousness, honesty, and courage. Idolatry lowers the moral strength of people and makes them unstable and weak. This is what had happened in Israel. They could not even choose between the Almighty God and worthless idols.
They quickly changed their mind, however, when they saw the power of God. Fire from heaven consumed the sacrifice and the altar Elijah had prepared as well as the water that was poured around it. The same people who a few hours earlier could not decide whether to serve God or Baal then fell on their faces and cried out, “The Lord, He is God!The Lord, He is God!” (I Kings 18:39). It should not have taken a miracle to elicit this response. They had nature which reveals God (Psa. 19:1). They had the law of Moses. They had the prophets. But when the tide turned against idolatry, they decided that Godis really God after all.
Elijah is one of the most bold and revered prophets of the Old Testament. He wrote no Scripture. He was in hiding much of the time we read about him. And we sometimes forget that he was human. When Jezebel vowed to kill him, he ran and asked God to take his life (I Kings 19:4). God did eventually take him from the earth in a whirlwind, but not before Elijah finished his work.
Elijah is at peace now. He is in glory. Many earth years later he was honored to appear with Moses and talk with Jesus (Matt. 17:3). He endured living in a world full of trouble and is at rest with others who fought the good fight of faith until the end. God give us some of his same spirit so that we may endure and shake his hand some day.