Have you ever wondered how the Lord trained His servants
for their hard and difficult callings? So many of the
finest Scriptural characters make their appearance on
the pages of history ‘fully-fledged’ in their calling.
There are tantalisingly few direct pointers to guide us
to the hidden processes by which the Lord prepared men
such as Amos, Isaiah and Elijah for their demanding
ministry. My desire to learn more about the way God
equips His people led me to take a closer look at the
life of one of the greatest of all the prophets: Elijah
Mention the name of Elijah and all manner of stirring
images spring to mind: drought and fire, rank despair
and triumphal faith, tyrants humbled and God exalted.
True, we will find no book in Scripture named after
Elijah: no grand schemes for reforming Temple Worship or
mighty visions of the future. Even the number of times
we see him ‘in action’ is limited, but the impact he
made on friend and foe alike was deep and lasting. The
few words we hear from his lips resonate with fervour
and insight, spanning the intervening centuries with a
clarion-call that demands our fullest attention.
|The more we meditate on the life of this man whom God
considered worthy to appear with the Lord Jesus on the
Mount of Transfiguration, the more we will see that the
whole tenor of Elijah’s life, as well as the message he
brought from his God, has much to say to our spiritually
For if at first Elijah appears
so full of holy fire that he towers above lesser
mortals, a closer study will reassure us. Elijah’s
intimacy with God – and perhaps his weaknesses too –
will surprise and inspire rather than intimidate us.
I have endeavoured to communicate the heart of the
message God entrusted to Elijah, because it contains a
prophetic challenge for our own generation. I have been
equally concerned that such an understanding should lead
not to greater head knowledge, but to a greater
closeness to the Lord Himself. The tone of this book,
therefore, lies midway between the prophetic and the
devotional, while the teaching ranges far beyond the
life of the prophet himself. At the end of the day, I
have been more concerned to communicate certain
spiritual insights than to write a textual commentary. I
offer no apology, therefore, for making so free a use of
the Elijah narrative; it makes an ideal springboard for
developing our intimacy with God.
The Call to Intimacy with God
Scripture offers us no direct glimpse of Elijah’s early
years, but we are given one clue. His first recorded
utterance reveals that he ‘stood before the Lord.’
Hidden within these simple words lies the key not only
for understanding Elijah’s ministry, but for all who
would follow in his footsteps.
|Centuries before, the Lord had called Abraham His
friend, spoken face to face with Moses, and described
David as a man after his own heart. Now, in the
obscurity of a remote mountain village, the Lord spent
many years drawing Elijah deeper into His presence.
be designated as a mouthpiece for the Lord God Almighty
is the highest of all callings. Long before exposing him
to the perils of public ministry, God had been at work,
alerting him to the peril that faced the nation, scoring
His burden deeply into his heart. Much hidden training
preceded Elijah’s rare but exceedingly significant
forays onto the public stage.
To reach the mountain peaks, it is necessary first to
pass through the foothills. In a sense, I have been more
concerned in this book to explore the foothills that
lead to the mountain ranges than with the summits
themselves. This dimension of training will therefore be
an important part of our study of what it means to live
in the spirit and power of Elijah.
|This book is an invitation to understand more of the God
who supplies His people through ravens, and who speaks
to us through prophets. The ravens symbolise God’s
imaginative provision for His people, just as the
prophet represents the person who has learnt to express
So far as is possible, I have made each chapter complete
in itself, whilst alluding in the references to a wealth
of Biblical texts, and other Christian literature. The
prayers and meditations at the end of each section are a
means of applying the teaching, and stimulating our
the little word ‘Selah’ that we come across so
often in the Psalms is, as many suppose it to
be, an exhortation to ‘Pause and Pray,’ then let
there be many such selahs in the course of reading this book.
Who knows what the Lord may have to show us as we spend
time in His presence?
It will be helpful to approach these times of reflection
prayerfully. Take them slowly, and record any thoughts
and insights as they come. It is my prayer that, long
after you have finished reading this book, the wisdom
and discernment that you glean through these times of
reflection may remain as a precious and abiding part of
your walk with the Lord.