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Elijah & Elisha

These two prophets, whose ministries are recorded in a few short passages in 1 & 2 Kings, stand out among the characters of the Bible. Though neither of them wrote a book, the accounts of their lives and service for the Lord tell us much about God's holiness, justice, love, power, provision, and protection.

The setting of their ministry was roughly the ninth century B.C., and dealt primarily with the "northern kingdom" of Israel at a time when idolatry had overrun the worship of the true God. Ahab, who was king when Elijah first appears, is said to have done "more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him" (1 Kings 16:33). Add to that the wicked influence of his wife, Jezebel, whose name has become synonymous with evil, and we can begin to get a picture of the moral conditions in the days when the Lord stirred up Elijah to announce a drought as punishment for this national rebellion against Jehovah.

Elisha, who served with Elijah for much of his ministry and then succeeded him as the foremost prophet in Israel, became possessor of Elijah's mantle—the outward sign of his office—and of his spirit—the inward power to act for God. Elisha was also honored with the same title he had ascribed to Elijah—"the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof" (2 Kings 2:12; 13:14), signifying that the strength of the nation was not in its military might or political leaders, but rather channeled through these spiritual men from God Himself.

In the articles that follow, we will trace a little of the actions of these spiritual powerhouses, and hopefully learn lessons that we can apply to our lives today. After all, "Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are" (James 5:17), and though he experienced the same thoughts, feelings, and despair that we often do, yet he also knew the power of prayer and the potential of faith.

We recommend that you read the portion given at the head of each article and, if possible, read the entire portion covering their ministries beginning in 1 Kings 17 and continuing through 2 Kings 13.

—T. Don Johnson