July 20 – Elijah, Prophet – Elias (Hebrew ‘Eliahu) –
The loftiest and most wonderful prophet of the Old Testament. What we know of his public life is sketched in a few popular narratives enshrined, for the most part, in the First Book of Kings. These narratives, which bear the stamp of an almost contemporary age, very likely took shape in Northern Israel, and are full of the most graphic and interesting details. Every part of the prophet’s life therein narrated bears out the description of the writer of Ecclesiasticus: He was “as a fire, and his word burnt like a torch” (48:1).
The times called for such a prophet. Under the baneful influence of his Tyrian wife Jezabel, Achab, though perhaps not intending to forsake altogether the worship of the true God, had nevertheless erected in Samaria a temple to the Tyrian Baal(1 Kings 16:32) and introduced a multitude of foreign priests (xviii 19); doubtless he had occasionally offered sacrifices to the pagan deity, and, most of all, hallowed a bloody persecution of the prophets of the great I Am.
~Image: Prophet Elijah, Serbian painter, 18th c.