1 Kings 17.1
“Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”
It was a time of darkness and despair in the nation of Israel. Because of Israel’s idolatry, there was a great chasm between God and His people. Then, abruptly and with little introduction or background, the prophet Elijah appears. In response to the great spiritual chasm, Elijah alone stood in the gap.
Elijah’s name is significant. “Elijah” means “The Lord is my God.” Ahab and Jezebel were in control of the land, and Baal was the false god they worshiped. But when Elijah burst on the scene, his very name proclaimed: “I have one God. His name is Jehovah. He is the One I serve, before whom I stand.”
Because of its obscurity, Elijah’s place of origin is also significant. Elijah was from Tishbeh; therefore, he’s called “Elijah the Tishbite.” We know very little about Tishbeh, not even its exact location. However, the text does indicate that it was in Gilead, which was in the northern Transjordan area—that is, on the eastern side of the Jordan River.
Gilead was rugged hill country, far away from the sophistication of the city. It was an austere land, and one senses that Elijah’s appearance was in keeping with that. His manner might have bordered on coarse and crude, rough and rugged, and altogether different than anyone attending the court of Ahab and Jezebel.
It was Elijah—a simple man from the hill country of Gilead—whom the Lord called to confront Ahab and Jezebel.
Please take some time and reflect deeply on what that means for you as a follower of Jesus. Like the calling and commission of Elijah, the Lord has called you to Himself and then has sent you into the world as an ambassador for His kingdom. He sends you into a world that is deeply broken and in desperate need of God’s saving grace.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5.17-20)
God has commissioned you to proclaim the gospel to a world that has rejected Him and is in rebellion. He has commanded you to live the standards of the kingdom before a watching but cynical world. There is no higher calling. There is no greater purpose on planet earth.
May we learn from the prophet Elijah, and may we be faithful to the mission to which the Lord calls us.