Commemoration of Elijah
The Lord be with you
On the liturgical calendar used in the LC-MS we again follow the suggestion of the 19th century liturgical scholar, Wilhelm Löhe (remembered January 2), and recognize today as the Commemoration of Elijah. The Eastern Church, on this day, commemorates the “Glorious Prophet Elias (Elisha),” who is commemorated on our calendar June 14.
The prophet Elijah, whose name means “My God is Yahweh [the LORD],” prophesied in the Northern Kingdom of Israel primarily during the reign of Ahab (874-853 BC). Ahab, under the influence of his pagan wife Jezebel, had encouraged the worship of the Phoenician idol Baal throughout his kingdom, even as Jezebel sought to get rid of the worship of Yahweh. Elijah was called by God to denounce this idolatry and to call the people of Israel back to the worship of Yahweh as the only true God (as he did in 1 Kings 18:20-40). Elijah was a rugged and imposing figure, living in the wilderness and dressing in a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt (2 Kings 1:8). He was a prophet mighty in word and deed. Many miracles were done through Elijah, including the raising of the dead (1 Kings 17:17-24) and the effecting of a long drought in Israel (1 Kings 17:1). At the end of his ministry, he was taken up into heaven in a whirlwind while Elisha, his successor, looked on (2 Kings 2:11). Later, the prophet Malachi proclaimed that Elijah would return before the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5-6), a prophecy that was fulfilled in the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist (Matthew 11:14).
Elijah was not a “writing” prophet, meaning he left us no written document. However, he and his ministry are recorded in 1 Kings 17-21 and 2 Kings 1-2. During his lifetime Israel was economically prosperous and a major regional political and military power (Egypt was confined to the area of the Nile and Assyria was confined to the Mesopotamia area). People are often inclined to judge the value of their religion in terms of economic, political and military success as well as whether or not it is keeping in step with the times. Thus Elijah faced a stiff challenge. Today people are not different. Because our country is powerful economically, politically, and militarily, people are inclined to endorse the sinful lead of our cultural leaders (abortion, sexual immorality, political expediency, a godless creation, violence as entertainment, etc.) seeking to keep in step with the times. Those who call us back to faithfulness are considered obdurate, hardhearted, backward, ignorant, and all sorts of other ugly things. Elijah can be an inspiration to faithfulness to all who stand against the tide of secular culture’s efforts to pull us away from Jesus.
Prayer: Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Elijah, You continued the prophetic pattern of teaching Your people the true faith and demonstrating through miracles Your presence in creation to heal it of its brokenness. Grant that Your Church may see in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the final end-times prophet whose teaching and miracles continue in Your Church through the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Other Appropriate Prayer Topics:
• National repentance
• A Church willing to stand firm on God’s truth
• Personal faithfulness to Christ amidst apostasy
Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert