We’re first introduced to him as “Elijah the Tishbite” (1 Kings 17:1). Talk about stepping out of nowhere! Elijah came out of this insignificant place—out of nowhere—to make such a significant contribution to God’s plan for His people that he became one of Israel’s most famous heroes. He became what we often call today a legend.
The first thing that commands our attention is Elijah’s name. The Hebrew word for “God” in the Old Testament is Elohim, which is occasionally abbreviated El. The word jah is the word for “Jehovah.” Thus, in Elijah’s name we find the word for “God” and the word for “Jehovah.” Between them is the small letter I, which in Hebrew has reference to the personal pronoun “my” or “mine.” Putting the three together, then, we find that Elijah’s name means “My God is Jehovah” or “The Lord is my God.” No one had a reason to doubt that!
Ahab and Jezebel were in control of the northern kingdom of Israel, and Baal was the god they worshiped. But when Elijah burst on the scene, his very name proclaimed, “I have one God. His name is Jehovah. He is the One I serve, before whom I stand.”
By now, the spiritual chasm between God and His people had reached its widest breadth. Elijah stood alone in that gap.
Today there are still those who stand alone in the gap, those who still strive to shake us awake. A handful of brave students at Columbine High School come immediately to mind. Loaded guns and the threat of death couldn’t silence them. I think of them as modern-day Elijahs, whom God uses to deliver a life-changing message. Men and women of courage, ready to stand and deliver. Authentic heroes.
Our Lord is still searching for people who will make a difference. Christians dare not be mediocre. We dare not dissolve into the background or blend into the neutral scenery of this world. Sometimes you have to look awfully close and talk awfully long before an individual will declare his allegiance to God . . . someone with the courage to stand alone for God. Is that what we have created today in this age of tolerance and compromise?
Elijah’s life teaches us what the Lord requires.
Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.