Questions About The Holy Prophet Elias

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ANSWER 1

In the 17th chapter of the Third Book of Kings, the Holy Prophet Elias appears, being called only " And Elias the Tishbite (or, Thesbite), of the inhabitants of Galaad". The word "Tishbite in interpreted "that makes captive", and most probably indicated the place of the Holy Prophet's birth. Josephus, the Jewish Historian, supposes that "Tishbi" was some place in the land of Giliead (See Easton's Bible Dictionary)

The Holy Prophet boldly rebuked the apostate king Achab, who had married the pagan Jezebel, and submitted, for the sake of her charms, to idolatry:

"And Achab, the son of Amri, did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him.{31} Nor was it enough for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nabat: but he also took to wife Jezabel, daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians. And he went, and served Baal, and adored him. {32} And he set up an altar for Baal, in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria; {33} And he planted a grove: and Achab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, than all the kings of Israel that were before him." (3 Kings:16:30-33, Douay-Reims)

The Holy Prophet warned him that a drought would occur, because of Achabs' wickedness. During the first portion of the drought, the Holy Prophet lived by the brook Cherith, where he was fed by ravens:

And Elias the Thesbite, of the inhabitants of Galaad, said to Achab: As the Lord liveth, the God of Israel, in whose sight I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to the words of my mouth. {2} And the word of the Lord came to him, saying: {3} Get thee hence, and go towards the east, and hide thyself by the torrent of Carith, which is over against the Jordan; {4} And there thou shalt drink of the torrent: and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. ... <6> And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the torrent. (3 Kings:17:1-4,6 Douay-Reims)

The most important stories concerning the Holy Prophet Elias are read during the vespers service commemorating him, which is found in the Menaion for July 20. Throughout his life, he showed utter disdain for his personal circumstances and safety, and was unafraid to tell the truth, even to those who could kill him. He foretold a great drought, with his righteous anger obscuring from him even his own bodily needs, and the Lord did not abandon his chosen one, but led him to the brook Cherith, to feed him with ravens. We see this pattern throughout the prophet's life. He acts according to zeal, and the Lord protects him, rewarding his great faith. We must also strive to have such zeal and faith, and stand in the truth only, obeying the words of our Savior: "Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? {32} (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. {33} But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." >(Mat 6:31-33)

Take courage, Christian. Don't compromise your faith because of fear, whether for your position or job, or title, or comfort, or anything else.

ANSWER 2

After the brook Cherith dried up, the Lord said: "Arise, and go to Sarephta of the Sidonians, and dwell there: for I have commanded a widow woman there to feed thee." 3 Kings 17:9

This set the stage for the wondrous dialogue between the poverty stricken woman, who expected to die, with her only son, and the Holy Prophet, and teaches us much about the virtues of obedience and hospitality.

"He arose, and went to Sarephta. And when he was come to the gate of the city, he saw the widow woman gathering sticks, and he called her, and said to her: Give me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. {11} And when she was going to fetch it, he called after her, saying: Bring me also, I beseech thee, a morsel of bread in thy hand. {12} And she answered: As the Lord thy God liveth, I have no bread, but only a handful of meal in a pot, and a little oil in a cruise: behold I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it, for me and my son, that we may eat it and die. {13} And Elias said to her: Fear not; but go, and do as thou hast said but first make for me of the same meal a little hearth cake, and bring it to me, and after make for thyself and thy son. {14} For thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel: The pot of meal shall not waste, nor the cruise of oil be diminished, until the day wherein the Lord will give rain upon the face of the earth. {15} She went, and did according to the word of Elias: and he ate, and she, and her house: and from that day {16} The pot of meal wasted not, and the cruise of oil was not diminished according to the word of the Lord, which he spoke in the hand of Elias." (3 Kings 17:9-16)

I believe Holy Tradition holds that the widow's son was none other than St Jonah, the prophet.

ANSWER 3

While Elias was staying with the widow and her son, the boy fell grievously ill, and died. The woman believed that is was because of her sins that the boy had died. What a piteous scene! The family had only just been saved from starvation by the Holy Prophet, and now the woman had lost her only son. Elias took her son, and went into his room. In the heat of his own grief, with compassion for the widow, he cried out to the Lord: "...O Lord, my God, hast thou afflicted also the widow, with whom I am after a sort maintained, so as to kill her son?" (3 Kings 17:20) Now we are vouchsafed to see a great miracle, and the power of sincere prayer, and a prophesy of the power of the cross:

And he stretched, and measured himself upon the child three times, and cried to the Lord, and said: O Lord, my God, let the soul of this child, I beseech thee, return into his body. {22} And the Lord heard the voice of Elias: and the soul of the child returned into him, and he revived." (3 Kings 17:21-22)

We worship the same God as Elias. Why are our prayers so weak, and why do we ask for so little? He saw only in a figure the redemption of the cross, and we have had it revealed to us fully. The Holy Paul certainly included Elias among those great ones of God whose exploits in turn rebuke and exhort us:

"And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: {40} God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. {12:1}Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, {2} Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.(Heb 11:39-40,12:1-2)

Through the prayers of the Holy Prophet Elias, may we live as believers in the redemption of the cross.

ANSWER 4

The Lord chose Elisha to be the successor of the holy Prophet Elias. This holy prophet also worked a miracle that even more strongly prefigures the resurrection, and prophesies that our redemption will come through the cross. A "prefigurement" is an event which occurs in the Old Covenant which points to the New. It is also called a "type". And example of a "type" is when Moses struck his staff in the bitter waters, and they were made sweet (drinkable), which is a prefigurement of the cross, which will make "sweet" our life which would without the cross end in bitter death. There are hundreds of examples in the Old Covenant, which the Holy church understands and meditates upon in the holy services. In fact, the best way to become a true scholar of the Old Testament is to listen attentively to the services of the church, which always understand it in the light of the New!

The Holy Elisha worked an even greater miracle than Elias. He was often a guest at the house of a "Shunamite woman", who was barren. Through his prayers, she conceived and bore a son. When the lad was a young boy, though able to work with his father in the fields, he took sick suddenly and died. The woman immediately saddle her ass and rode to Mount Carmel, where the prophet was living. Although the prophet sent Gehazi, his servant, to lay his staff upon the boy, he did not revive. This staff represents the Old Covenant, which is not able to give life.

In the meantime, Elisha had followed the Shunamite woman back to her home, at her insistence, and in the miracle of the son's resurrection, we see clearly the type of the cross.

"Eliseus, therefore, went into the house, and behold the child lay dead on his bed: {33} And going in, he shut the door upon him, and upon the child, and prayed to the Lord. {34} And he went up, and lay upon the child: and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he bowed himself upon him, and the child's flesh grew warm. {35} Then he returned and walked in the house, once to and fro: and he went up, and lay upon him: and the child gaped seven times, and opened his eyes." 4 Kings:4:32-35

The staff represents the Old Covenant, which is superceded by the New, brought in by the cross, which Elisha clearly prefigured by laying upon the boy in the form of a cross. (Read the entire story in 4 Kings 4:1-37)

ANSWER 5

"After many days, the word of the Lord came to Elias, in the third year, saying: Go, and shew thyself to Achab, that I may give rain upon the face of the earth. " 3 Kings 18:1)

On the way to Achab, Elias met Abdias the governor of Achab's house, who had been sent to forage for feed and water for the livestock. There ensured a rather funny discussion between them, as Elias asked Abidias to announce his coming to Achab, but the servant feared doing this because:

"And when I am gone from thee, the Spirit of the Lord will carry thee into a place that I know not: and I shall go in and tell Achab; and he, not finding thee, will kill me: but thy servant feareth the Lord from his infancy. {13} Hath it not been told thee, my lord, what I did when Jezabel killed the prophets of the Lord; how I hid a hundred men of the prophets of the Lord, by fifty and fifty in caves, and fed them with bread and water? {14} And now thou sayest: Go and tell thy master: Elias is here: that he may kill me. (3 Kings 18:12-14)

Elias prevailed upon Abdias to announce him, and came to Achab, who immediately denounced the Holy Prophet, blaming him for the drought. The Holy prophet fearlessly denounced the king because of his idolatry, and ordered him to gather people together, setting the stage for a great miracle.

"And when he had seen him, he said: Art thou he that troublest Israel? {18} And he said: I have not troubled Israel, but thou and thy father's house, who have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and have followed Baalim. {19}Nevertheless send now, and gather unto me all Israel, unto Mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, who eat at Jezabel's table." (3 Kings 18:17-19)

The Holy Prophet than rebuked the people and challenged the "prophets of Baal" (pagan priests):

"And Elias coming to all the people, said: How long do you halt between two sides? If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people did not answer him a word. {22} And Elias said again to the people: I only remain a prophet of the Lord: but the prophets of Baal are four hundred and fifty men. {23} Let two bullocks be given us, and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it upon wood, but put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under it. {24} Call ye on the names of your gods, and I will call on the name of my Lord: and the God that shall answer by fire, let him be God. And all the people answering, said: A very good proposal." (3 Kings 18:21-24)

The Holy Prophet had a flair for the dramatic, as well as great zeal. He gave the pagan priest the first opportunity to prove that their "god" was better. They prayed from the morning until the "time of the giving of sacrifice", and even cut themselves with knives and wailed, to no avail. In the middle of their fruitless gesticulations, Elias, with great humor told them:

"... Cry with a louder voice: for he is a god; and perhaps he is talking, or is in an inn, or on a journey; or perhaps he is asleep, and must be awaked. " (18:27)

Near the end of the day, the prophet called to people unto him, and did a very strange thing, showing that he not only possessed a sublime sense of humor, but also a flair for the dramatic. He built an altar of twelve stones, for the twelve tribes of Israel, and dug a trench to contain water. After cutting up the bullock and placing it on the altar, he did a very strange thing:

"18:34. And he said: Fill four buckets with water, and pour it upon the burnt offering, and upon the wood. And again he said: Do the same the second time. And when they had done it the second time, he said: Do the same also the third time. And they did so the third time. {35} And the water run round about the altar, and the trench was filled with water." (18:34-35)

Elias then prayed to the Lord, and:

"Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the holocaust, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. " (18:38)

After this, understandably the people believed in the Lord, and Elias ordered that all the prophets of Baal be immediately slain.

ANSWER 6

After the prophets were killed, the pagan queen Jezebel sent Elias a message telling him she would not rest until he was dead:

"And Jezabel sent a messenger to Elias, saying: Such and such things may the gods do to me, and add still more, if by this hour to morrow I make not thy life as the life of one of them." (19:12)

Elias, the holy prophet, as a man felt fear, and fled from Jezebel. He went into the desert, and cast himself down by a Juniper tree, and desired to die, because he knew that all of Israel was in the throes of apostasy, and he could not bear to endure anymore.

"And he went forward, one day's journey into the desert. And when he was there, and sat under a juniper tree, he requested for his soul that he might die, and said: It is enough for me, Lord; take away my soul: for I am no better than my fathers." (19:4)

The prophet was fed two times by an angel, with bread and water, then commenced to take a forty day journey across the desert to Mount Horeb. This bread foreshadows the "heavenly bread", which empowers a man to do anything, if he has faith.

Upon arriving at the cave, Elias renewed his complaint to the Lord:

"And when he was come thither, he abode in a cave. and behold the word of the Lord came unto him, and he said to him: What dost thou here, Elias? {10} And he answered: With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant: they have thrown down thy altars, they have slain thy prophets with the sword, and I alone am left, and they seek my life to take it away." (19:9-20)

Then the Lord revealed Himself to the Holy Prophet, in a still small voice:

" {11} And he said to him: Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord: and behold the Lord passeth, and a great and strong wind before the Lord, overthrowing the mountains, and breaking the rocks in pieces: but the Lord is not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: but the Lord is not in the earthquake. {12} And after the earthquake, a fire: but the Lord is not in the fire. And after the fire, a whistling of a gentle air. {13. And when Elias heard it, he covered his face with his mantle, and coming forth, stood in the entering in of the cave, and behold a voice unto him, saying: What dost thou here, Elias? And he answered: {14} With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant: they have destroyed thy altars, they have slain thy prophets with the sword; and I alone am left, and they seek my life to take it away. {15} And the Lord said to him: Go, and return on thy way, through the desert, to Damascus: and when thou art come thither, thou shalt anoint Hazael to be king over Syria; {16} And thou shalt anoint Jehu, the son of Namsi, to be king over Israel: and Eliseus, the son of Saphat, of Abelmeula, thou shalt anoint to be prophet in thy room."

St. Elias only heard the Lord when he was still and quiet. We can only hear him when our passions are stilled and quieted.

ANSWER 7

The Holy Prophet Elias was taken up from the earth in a fiery chariot, hence, he did not die a natural death, as it is wont for all flesh to do. He shares this distinction with Enoch, of whom the scripture states: And he walked with God, and was seen no more: because God took him." (Genesis 5:24). Enoch and Elias abide in the heavens with two others who have flesh, albiet in a perfected state, namely, Jesus Christ the God-man, who deified his flesh by rising from the dead and ascending into heaven, and His most pure mother, who died as anyone else must, but was taken up into the heavens by her son.

ANSWER 8

The church prays to the Prophet Elias to alleviate drought, and bring rain, since by his prayers the rains were stopped, and by his prayers they came again. His intercessions are also a powerful aid to the sick, as the resurrection of the widow's son proves unmistakably. The church's experience, has confirmed again and again, and her services, for those who listen, teach this clearly.

"O prophet, preacher of Christ, thou dost never depart from the throne of Majesty, and ever intercedest for every one afflicted with sickness. Ministering in the highest, glorified in all places, thou dost bless the whole world. Ask thou for cleansing for our souls" (Glory, at the Aposticha, service for St Elias, July 7)

"The angel in the flesh, the foundation of the prophets, the second forerunner of the Coming of Christ, the glorious Elijah from on High sent down grace upon Elisha to dispel infirmities and cleanse lepers. Wherefore, he poureth fourth healings upon them that honor him" Troparion for Elijah

ANSWER 9

Just as the Holy Baptizer of Christ, John, heralded the first coming of Christ, when He came meekly, as a servant, so the glorious Elias will herald the second coming of Christ, when He will come in al power and majesty, as a King, swiftly, from the Mount of Olives. The church knows that both Enoch and Elias will come back to the earth in it's very last days, and preach Christ. They will be slain by the antichrist, and lay in the streets for three days, after which the Lord will come and usher in the New, unwaning age.

The Jews of Jesus' day certainly understood this about Elias, although they were confused, and thought that perhaps Christ himself was Elias: "When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? {14} And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. " (Mat 16:13-14)

ANSWER 10

The Holy Prophet Elias burned with zeal for the truth, and this zeal made him never consider compromise with falsehood. In our day, Orthodox compromise the truth with regularity, first by being wishy washy about where the church is, and where it is not. Sometimes they compromise the truth because of fear, and oftentimes because of desire for political or material gain, or because of an unwholesome, ignorant pursuit for "unity", which they mistakenly equate as the only indicator of true love. Their apostate way of thinking has even led some to worship in services with pagans. Their actions have even been captured on video tape, and their words have been printed, for all with eyes to see.

Here is one small example. The Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew, is attempting union with the Papist Roman Catholics, but this union is not being pursued in truth. Instead of teaching them where they have erred, and making it clear to them that they have fallen away from the truth, he uses Byzantine flattery which clearly shows that he fully accepts that they are members of the church of Christ, ignoring the clear teaching of the church that obdurate heretics are anathema (outside the church). Here is a portion from a recent speech by one of the Patriarch's operatives, on the sad occasion of yet another concelebration of the Orthodox and the Papists, during their celebration in Rome of the Feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul:

"It is indeed for the sake of this sacred cause of unity that our two churches are officially engaged in theological dialogue so that on the basis of their common heritage of the first thousand years of the Church's life they may remove the obstacles to full communion that have appeared since the tragic Schism which has separated us for almost a millennium now. The bitter experience of this long period of separation has made us all aware of the need to accelerate the process of restoring our full communion so that the approaching third millennium of the Christian era may find the Church of God visibly united as she was before the great Schism. As Your Holiness has aptly put it some years ago, East and West are the two lungs by which the Church breaths; their unity is essential to the healthy life of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. (emphasis F.S.)" (Metropolitan John Of Pergamon, speech in Rome, on the occasion of the (Latin) Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, 1998. This speech was distributed via the "Orthodox News mailing list" (majordomo@list.goarch.org), and is also available at http://www.goarch.org/worldnews.)

I hope everyone can recognize the heresy and accommodation to falsehood in these words. Anyone who understands the Holy Prophet Elias would know that he would not be welcome in such an assembly. The only way to stand for the truth fearlessly is to live in it. May the ecumenists come to their senses, and stand for the truth, instead of uttering false and oily platitudes, through the prayers of the Holy Prophet Elias.





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