It’s again 20th of July and we in the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, celebrate the Holy memory of st. Prophet Elijah (Elias
St. Elijah is among the greatest Old Testamental prophets. He lived before the birth of our saviour Jesus Christ in a time when apostacy from true faith was severe.
In Elias’s time (few centuries B.C.), there used to be also a severe hunger on the land.
Elias was among the little number of Jews who did continued to honour the True God creator of Heaven and of Earth instead of turning to false religious teachings inspired by demons, like it’s the Baal’s cult which was widely spread among Jews back in the time.
Because of his faith in the true God, st. Prophet Elijah was hunted by the king’s wife Jezabel and he was forced to escape from Bersheeba and went alone in the wilderness and sat down in despondency under a juniper tree.
As he slept, an angel touched him, and said unto him, “Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.” He arose and found a cake and a cruse of water. Having partaken of the provision, he went forward on his way for forty days to Horeb, where he took residence in a cave. Here God appeared to him and said, “What dost thou here, Elijah?” In answer to Elijah’s despondent words God manifests to him his glory, and then directs him to return to Damascus and anoint Hazael king over the Arameans (Syria), Jehu king over Israel, and Elisha to be prophet in his room (1 Kings 19:13-21; compare 2 Kings 8:7-15; 9:1-10).
Some six years after this he prophecised and warned by God’s commandment Ahab and Jezebel of the violent deaths they would die (1 Kings 21:19-24; 22:38)
The reason for the great hunger at this times was the fact that no rain has fallen down to the land for two years, as Elias prayed to God that no rain will be given to the people of Israel until they turn back to their true God.
One of the most notable moments of st. Elias’s earhtly living was the great miracle he performed by God’s providence which proofed that only the God of Israel is the true God of heaven and earth.
This happened while he was still in desolation on mount Carmel, it came to pass that Elijah met Obadiah, one of king Ahab’s officers (the king at that time of Israel).
Obadiah was he sent out at this time to seek for pasturage for the cattle (as the hunger on the land was so severe that even pastures for animals was obscure).
Elias’s by God’s word bade him go and tell his master that Elijah was there. King Ahab came forth and met Elias and accused him to be the “Trouble of Israel” as, he thought that his lands troubles are because Elias did not turns to Baal as the the king himself and most of the Jews at that time.
It was then proposed by Elias, that sacrifices should be publicly offered (to determine whose God is in control of taking out the hunger – e.g. Elias’s God of Israel or Baal to whom has many falsely turned.
, for the purpose of determining whether Baal or the Israelite’s God is the one’s master of the Universe.
The competition was accepted by Ahab and many of the prophets of Baal gathered together to “beg” his God for a miracle.
Baal’s false manu prophets gathered around the sacrifice place and started Begging Baal to send fire and burn the sacrificial altar.
Nomatter how hard they screamed, nothing happened so eventually they started cutting their bodies pouring blood in a hope to catch baal’s attention and make him have mercy on them.
As long time passed on and no miracle happened Elias told baal’s worshippers to step back from the sacrificial calf on the built altar and ordered some of the king’s servants to spill water over the calf (three times).
The water brought was so much that the whole altar trench was over-filled with water.
Then saint Elias begged to God: “Oh Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, please hear me! Let oh God this people recognize that You Lord is God and please oh Lord turn the people’s hearts towards you.”, he was still praying when fire came down from heaven and burnt the stones, the water in and the trench itself.
When all the gathered people around saw this great miracle of God, they bowed down and confessed the One and only God.
By Elias’s order the Baal’s false priests has been killed.
After this great miracle, Elias said to Ahab to came back home, before the rain has followed him.
The saint prophet climbed to the mountain top and prayed for a very long time.
After the holy man of God completed his prayers a powerful wind started blowing and the sky has filled with big clouds and a pouring rain come down to the overdried earth.
The king’s wife Jezabel, still kept her stubborness and continued severely hunting for st. Elias and even gave a vow to kill him because all her prophets were killed.
But God again was with st. Elias and saved him by warning him to run away in the wilderness.
Elias was in a big sorrow, here because many of the people still continued to honour the false god baal even though all the great heavenly signs.
God however by a great miracles, has once again shown the prophet he should be of a good spirit always and always to trust in God as he even send his Angel to give Elijah food in the desert.
Elias was among the only 7000 of Israelish man who does rejected to venerate the false god Baal.
By God’s providence st. Elias had a pupil prophet called Elijah.
The time now drew near when he was to be taken up into heaven (2 Kings 2:1-12). He went down to Gilgal, where there was a school of prophets, and where his successor Elisha, whom he had anointed some years before, resided.
Elisha was distraught by the thought of his master’s leaving him, and refused to be parted from him. The two went on and came to Bethel and Jericho, and crossed the Jordan, the waters of which were “divided hither and thither” when smitten with Elijah’s mantle.
Upon arriving at the borders of Gilead, which Elijah had left many years before, it “came to pass as they still went on and talked” they were suddenly separated by a chariot and horses of fire; and “Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven,” Elisha receiving his mantle, which fell from Elijah as he ascended.
Elijah’s chosen successor was the prophet Elisha; Elijah designated Elisha as such by leaving his mantle with him (2 Kings 2:13-15), so that his wish for “a double portion” of the older prophet’s spirit (2:9)
Later on in New Testamential time it was again st. prophet Elias, who appearance in glory on Mount Tabor and talked with our Saviour Christ at the Son of God’s Glorious Transfiguration.
An interesting fact is that Elias and Enoch are the only two people who according to the Holy writtings were taken by God straight to heaven. No other mortal man has been taken that way in flesh.
According to Orthodox Church’s tradition, Elias and Enoch will be brought back to earth again by God in the last days of the anti-christ, when they will again testify about our Lord Jesus Christ’s being the truth God and will also expose the anti-christ who will falsely pretend as being the true god of Israel and a true saviour of mankind.
Again according to this church history this two prophets at this last days, will be given an enormous power from God, even a power to stop the rain to come down to earth and the power to command the rivers to stop.
Oh Holy Prophet Elias, let God have mercy on us the sinners by your Holy prayers and save us, give us grace and always show us His great mercies.