In the space of less than eight chapters in the Old Testament you find the life history of Elijah, one of the greatest of all God’s prophets. Charles Spurgeon called him “the Iron Prophet” while Ahab, the apostate king, called him “the troubler of Israel”. From the first time Elijah confronted Ahab with the announcement of a severe drought (I Kings 17) to his ascension to heaven in a flaming chariot (I Kings 2), Elijah served God with boldness and confidence. In I Kings 18 Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a winner—take-all test, to prove who was the real God of Israel. He showed great courage facing alone 450 men who not only opposed him but served in the favor of the king and his people. When God sent fire from heaven to consume Elijah’s sacrifice, the victory was won and Israel repented of their idolatry. However, Ahab’s queen, Jezebel, swore out a death sentence on Elijah and he fled into the wilderness to hide.
What a transformation! The day before he had won a great victory, received the support of the Israelite People, and had caused the rain to again water the land. But now he ran for his life because of the threats of a lone woman. As he forlornly sat and rested beneath a juniper tree, he asked God if now he would be allowed to die. (I Kings 19:4) He cried that he had been zealous for the Lord but he was all alone and he just couldn’t go on any longer.
Often times we read of the greats and near—greats in Scripture and think there was something extraordinary about them that caused, or allowed them to serve, or preach, or prove the Word of God so clearly; that they had something beyond our own capabilities. This is not, however, what James 5:17 claims in saying, “Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are.” Elijah, who called down fire from heaven; Elijah, who raised a widow’s son from the dead; Elijah, who faced off against 450 idol worshippers, was just like us. He had no emotions that we don’t have, he experienced great success and very low depressions. He is an example to us that even despite his human faults or failures, God was still able to use him with power. You don’t have to be a supernatural preacher, teacher, or evangelist, you only have to be committed to God with your whole heart. Elijah clearly showed how God can use anyone wholly consecrated to him no matter how human they are. Likewise, we have the opportunity to be the example that God can still do it today.