Friday, 3 June 2011


Question 1. In less than 1000 words write on the introduction to Elijah.

Once anyone has studied Elijah the Tishbite they cannot but help see that he was a mysterious and mighty man. We know nothing of him before he arrived in Jerusalem and this has earned Elijah the title ‘the Melchizedek of his age’. No matter where he went or who he was with he was a force to be reckoned with, but more importantly a godly man.

Elijah lived in a time of apostasy, not unlike where we are today, with people rebelling against and despising God. From the time of Jeroboam when they started to worship idols to the time of Ahab when things became even worse and it was then that we started to hear about Elijah. God had placed him there to minister during a period of persecution and knew that he was able. Elijah knew how wicked Jezebel was and he was determined that she would not stop him in any way.

Although many had refused to worship Baal, Elijah had few to stand with him. He must be an example to each of us today and encourage us to stand faithful for the Saviour whom we love and are called to serve.

God had set aside this time for Elijah to be his witness, and as always God is never wrong. It was as if God was making a statement to the wicked that he had not gone away, and never would. As they were so wicked God could have destroyed them but he was prepared to show them that He was a God of mercy and had placed Elijah amongst them. Elijah lived for God and was going to let nothing stand in the way of the Lords work, and we need to make him our example by holding the banner of God high.

He was a bold and a strong man who was prepared to stand in front of King Ahab and tell him that there was going to be a drought in the land and it would not change until he said so. Not only was Elijah able to speak about God but he knew Him personally and had a close relationship with Him. As well as this he based that he did on the word of God, because he stood before God, waited on Him and took his directions from Him.

To know thy will is all my prayer

Still knocking at the door I stand

Thy pleasure then O Lord declare

I only wait for thy command.

When we look at Elijah we can see Moses who also stood up against the people in a time when all they were interested in was evil and idol worship. Elijah was able to stand in front of a wicked king and tell him that God’s judgement was coming upon the land and that it was a sign that God was angry with the way they were living their lives. No matter what Elijah did he prayed about it and was always faithful to the message God gave him, as in going to the brook Cherith. God was taking him there as a time of preparation for what lay ahead.

Although the rest of the country faced drought, famine and death, Elijah was going to be fed and watered by God through the ravens, The king was struggling to find food and here was Elijah having his to delivered to him. On wonders what the King thought about this. Elijah was the complete opposite of most of the country in that he trusted totally in God and didn’t query what he was asked and responded immediately.

In all that we hear about Elijah he shows us how we should be living our lives for God – total unquestioning submission and trust. God had not finished with Elijah at Cherith, even when the brook dried up for he knew how Elijah may have felt. Each one of us faces trials and they are there to enable us to rely totally on God. It was no different for Elijah than it is for us because God has promised never to leave us nor forsake up and we will always have His spirit as our comforter.

The next place God took him was to Zarephath which was a Gentile city between Tyre and Sidon. It was here that he met the widow and her only son who were about to have their final meal and die. Elijah was asking her for something to eat in a time of severe famine and she must have thought him to be mad in some way. Nevertheless she was willing to do it and found that her barrel was full. This did not just happen the once for every time she needed to cook the provisions where there. God had supplied all their needs in a way in which they never could have imagined. The widow woman had been appointed by God to help Elijah but she would not have been aware of this. It showed Gods power, His mercy, His faithfulness and also the glory which was due to him. Many years later Jesus spoke of this woman and held her up as an example of faith.

Elijah may have thought that he knew what he was going to do, but God constantly took him by surprise. If we were to try to sum up Elijah here we could do it in just a few words – he was a man who trusted God totally, spent time in prayer with Him and obeyed whatever God asked of him without question. We really do need to think about what we do in difficult circumstances and make Elijah our example and never forget that in Psalm 31:15 we are told that our times are in God’s hands and he will take care of us.


Question 2. Write a summary (500 words) of Obadiah’s life and labours.

God had Elijah’s life planned from the beginning of time and knew what each step would be and how He was going to involve Obadiah. We don’t know what he looked like or where he came from but we do know that he loved God or as it was put he feared God greatly or in other words God was his everything. We are told in Proverbs 9:10 that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” and we still need to remember this. Although sin abounded all around him he stood for the Lord and so should we in this wicked time in which we live. Even Ahab realised he was a man of God and was happy to have him remain in his palace, and although Ahab scoffed at Obadiah he knew he was a man of honour. Humility was also one of his traits, in that he was prepared to always be the servant, as we see when he bows down before Elijah. No matter who he is with he always puts them first.

Obadiah was also a courageous man. He did not carry out Jezebels wishes because he looked after the prophets by hiding them in a cave and feeding them whilst they were there. We can also think here about the courage of Daniel and also the Apostles many years later.

Even though Elijah was a hated man at this time Obadiah was willing to be seen with him and be connected with him. When Elijah asked him to go before Ahab and announce that he was there he had some serious thoughts about it. He had already stuck his neck out over the prophets and was maybe thinking that surely there was someone else who could do it. It wouldn’t have been an easy thing for him to do but he went and announced before the king that Elijah was there.

Elijah would have been glad to have Obadiah as one of his friends and also a protector, but there would have been many others as well such as the prophets. He would also have been an encourager for he did not know what the future held but he had God with him and nothing was going to stop him going forward.

Even today we should be taking an example from Obadiah as did many men in the Bible even long after the Lord had called him Home. He was a champion for God who always went were God wanted him and did what he was asked to do. We need to think long and hard about what we are doing for God and what example we will leave behind. Obadiah was a risk-taker and Jesus is still looking for risk-takers. Are we prepared to be one of them?

Question 3. In less than 1500 words (total words) write on Elijah as a man of prayer and a man under persecution.

Elijah was totally trusting on God and was constantly in the place of prayer as we should be. When Elijah was on Mount Carmel it was just after he had slain the prophets of Baal and he had gone there to talk to God. His reason for being there was because the country was in drought and he had done what God had asked of him and was now praying for the rains to come and the land to flourish. This was because of God and not what any man could have told him and we need to heed the words of Hebrews 4:16 and be constantly before the throne of grace in order to obtain mercy.

God knew exactly where and when Elijah was going to pray this prayer. The evil prophets had been dealt with and people had discovered their hypocrisy, their lies and deceitfulness, their false religion but most of all that God was the only one and true God. God had closed the Heavens so it was only God who could open them again on the prayer of Elijah. Elijah knew the time was right because he had done what God had asked of him.

It is plain for each one of us to see that Elijah was steadfast in his prayers. He didn’t just go to Carmel and offer up one prayer in the hope that it would be answered right away. Not only did he offer up the prayer once and wait on an answer but he offered up that prayer seven times. If necessary he would have continue one hundred times or more until he knew that it was time to leave the place of prayer with an answer.

Elijah was aware of his own failings and weariness and perhaps he did wonder when the answer was going to come. He pushed forward for God even though his old nature may have wanted him to give up. Could we be as steadfast as Elijah was? Do we spend enough time in the place of prayer?

I am sure that Elijah realized that God had His time to answer the prayer but even though there was a delay the answer was sure to come. We need to continue to pray for unsaved loved ones and we do not know when the answer will come or if we will not know until we are in Glory. No doubt when he started to pray there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and no possible notion of rain. He was trusting that God was going to send the rain and he also knew that whatever was in the will of God would happen.

We know that Elijah’s prayer was a triumphant prayer because for over three years there hadn’t been so much as any remote sign of rain when all of a sudden a cloud the size of a man’s hand appeared. Almost as quickly as the small cloud appeared a mighty deluge of water followed and the promise of God in 1 Kings 18:1 was fulfilled. It was a totally public answer to his prayer that no one could deny. Once again we see the power of God. The answer to the prayer was not just for Elijah’s benefit but for that of the whole land, even those who did not believe.

None of us know what a day will bring forth and this was equally true for Elijah. He had been warring with the prophets of Baal, was a man of victory who had been at Carmel and we have him now wishing he was dead and sitting under a juniper tree.

Elijah had never been a popular man and now he was under persecution. God had looked after his servant and answered his prayers by sending the rain but now he was to face the wrath of Jezebel. First he had the blessing and now he was going to face the battle. Jezebels reason for hating Elijah was that she hated his God. She wanted to kill him because he stood up against her false gods. We can see this happening throughout history because of the many brave men and women who have stood up for the God they believed in and against false preachers with wishy washy beliefs. No doubt by this time Elijah was becoming weary and could not have come through this under his own steam.

Even though God was constantly with Elijah we have to remember that he was only and ordinary human being like each one of us and it is understandable that he became fearful and Jezebel became a worry to him. We see what can happen if we take our eyes away from God, and all Elijah could see was Jezebel. All that was in his mind was trouble and death because he had let Jezebel be in the foreground whilst God had been put into the background. Elijah should have stopped here and got on his knees before the Throne of Grace and ask God what he should do. Instead of praying he was relying on his own ways and thought it would be better if he died. He even was murmuring against God and was not going to accept what was happening.

If anyone is being persecuted then the only place they should turn to is God knowing that there is hope in God. No matter where he would go he couldn’t hide from God and it was here that we see that God came to him. He was touched by an angel from God whilst under the juniper tree who told him to wake up. Elijah had hidden from Jezebel but he could not hide from God and at this time God came and ministered to him and he realized that this was what he needed. He had become tired and weary of being tired and weary and realized that he had gone wrong in not trusting fully on God. We may have to go through trials but God will always strengthen us for the trials ahead as the life of Elijah proves.

Elijah was downcast but God was going to lift him up and no matter how much we hear of the mighty things he had done he was only human and there would be times when he would let his Lord down. By the time he got to the safety of the cave he had become a shadow of his former self who could see no hope in the future. It was as if he had forgotten about what God could do for him. He had forgotten that the mighty God who had called all creation into being would be able to provide for him and protect him. He should have looked back to the time when God provided food and water via the ravens, the time when God filled the meal barrel in Zarephath and all the other times when God has His hand upon him. We are not unlike Elijah in that on many occasions we forget that God has provided for us and taken care of us and we forget about Him and bring our woes away from him and cause ourselves untold distress. Elijah had got to the stage where he couldn’t see God and his failing made him think that his life was about to end. Thankfully he did not remain in this state for long and it must remind us of the old saying that God has to take you down before He lifts you up, and also that we need to listen to what God is saying to us. After his period of being downcast he was able to go out and serve God again.

To close we need to give an overview in a few sentences about the life of Elijah. He was a unique character who had no fear of men and who loved God. He was constant in prayer, but was also only human and could face discouragement and trials. No matter what was happening the still lifted God high. Through it all he was ready to obey God and it could be said that he was very like John the Baptist. None of us can replace either of these mighty men but we can try to live as they lived.

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