How Many Times Is Elijah Mentioned in the Bible

By Paul King •  Updated: 09/12/23 •  15 min read

Throughout the pages of the Holy Bible, the name of Elijah is mentioned numerous times, signifying his great significance in the history of Israel and his prophetic role. One of the most notable mentions of Elijah is found in the book of 1 Kings, where his story unfolds.

Elijah, whose name means ‘my God is Yahweh,’ first appears in 1 Kings 17:1, where he boldly declares to King Ahab, ‘As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.’ This pronouncement sets the stage for Elijah’s role as a prophet and a messenger of God.

As the story continues, we see Elijah being fed by ravens during a drought, a miraculous provision that showcases God’s faithfulness to His chosen servant. Later, Elijah is led by the Lord to a widow in Zarephath, where he performs another miracle by multiplying her meager supply of flour and oil, ensuring that she and her son do not go hungry.

Another significant event in Elijah’s life is his confrontation with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. In 1 Kings 18, Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal to a contest, where each side would call upon their respective gods to consume a sacrifice with fire. Despite the prophets of Baal’s fervent pleas and self-inflicted wounds, their god remains silent. In contrast, when Elijah prays to Yahweh, fire comes down from heaven and consumes the sacrifice, affirming the power and authority of the one true God.

Following this triumph, Elijah faces persecution from Queen Jezebel and flees to Mount Horeb, where he encounters God in a still, small voice. This encounter reaffirms Elijah’s calling and strengthens his resolve to continue his prophetic ministry.

Elijah’s story doesn’t end there. In 2 Kings 2, we witness his dramatic departure from this world. As Elijah and his successor, Elisha, journey together, a chariot of fire and horses of fire appear, separating them. Elijah is taken up to heaven in a whirlwind, leaving Elisha to carry on his prophetic mantle.

The legacy of Elijah extends beyond his own life, as he is mentioned in various other biblical accounts. In the New Testament, Jesus Himself acknowledges Elijah’s importance, stating that ‘Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased’ (Matthew 17:12). This reference highlights the fulfillment of prophecy and the connection between the Old and New Testaments.

In conclusion, Elijah’s name appears multiple times throughout the Bible, highlighting his prominent role as a prophet and servant of God. Through his miraculous encounters, unwavering faith, and enduring legacy, Elijah’s story serves as an inspiration for believers today. As we delve into the mentions of Elijah in the biblical text, we gain a deeper understanding of his impact on the people of Israel and his significance as a symbol of God’s power and intervention.

Key Takeaways

Historical Background of Elijah

The historical background of Elijah is deeply rooted in the biblical narrative of the Old Testament. According to the Scriptures, Elijah emerged as a prominent figure during the reign of King Ahab in the northern kingdom of Israel.

During this time, idolatrous practices had taken hold in the kingdom, and Elijah’s role was to confront and challenge these practices. In 1 Kings 18:21, Elijah boldly questioned the people of Israel, saying, ‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.’ This question not only emphasized the need for the people to choose between the true God and false idols but also showcased Elijah’s conviction and determination.

Elijah’s confrontation with King Ahab and Queen Jezebel is a well-known event that further solidified his role as a prophet. In 1 Kings 18, Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to a contest on Mount Carmel. The prophets of Baal called upon their god to send fire upon their sacrifice, but to no avail. However, when Elijah called upon the Lord, fire came down from heaven and consumed his offering. This miraculous event showcased Elijah’s authority and power as a prophet and demonstrated that the Lord was the one true God.

Elijah’s mission was not only to confront idolatry but also to bring the people back to the worship of the Lord. In 1 Kings 19:10, Elijah expressed his frustration, saying, ‘I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.’ This verse highlights the challenges Elijah faced in his mission and his unwavering commitment to serving the Lord.

One of the most significant stories involving Elijah is his encounter with the widow of Zarephath in 1 Kings 17. During a severe drought, Elijah was directed by the Lord to go to Zarephath, where he met a widow who was preparing to eat her last meal before she and her son starved to death. Elijah, in faith, asked her to make him a small cake of bread first and promised that her jar of flour and jug of oil would not run dry until the Lord sent rain. The widow obeyed, and God miraculously provided for her and her household. This story not only showcases Elijah’s role as a prophet but also highlights the Lord’s faithfulness and provision.

Elijah’s impact on the people of Israel cannot be overstated. In Malachi 4:5-6, the last verses of the Old Testament, it is prophesied, ‘See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.’ This prophecy speaks to the lasting influence of Elijah as a prophet and his role in preparing the way for the coming of the Lord.

Elijah’s Role as a Prophet

One notable aspect of Elijah’s role in biblical texts is his depiction as a prophet, which is characterized by his divine messages and actions. Elijah’s teachings and prophetic messages played a significant role in the religious landscape of ancient Israel. As a prophet, he acted as a mouthpiece for God, delivering God’s commands, warnings, and promises to the people of Israel.

In 1 Kings 17, we see Elijah’s prophetic message and his miraculous encounter with a widow in Zarephath. When Elijah first meets the widow, she is gathering sticks to make a last meal for herself and her son, as they are on the verge of starvation due to a severe drought. Elijah, speaking on behalf of God, tells her not to be afraid and assures her that if she makes him a small cake first, her flour and oil will not run out until the day the Lord sends rain on the land. The widow, trusting in the word of the prophet, obeys his command, and miraculously, her flour and oil never run dry.

Through this story, we see Elijah’s role as a prophet in action. He delivers a message of hope and sustenance in the midst of a desperate situation. The widow’s faith in the words of Elijah and her obedience to his command demonstrate the power of God working through the prophet.

In addition to addressing issues of idolatry and social injustice, Elijah’s prophetic messages often call for repentance. In 1 Kings 18, we witness a dramatic confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Elijah challenges the people of Israel, asking them how long they will waver between two opinions and urging them to choose whom they will serve – the Lord or Baal. The people remain silent, and Elijah, fueled by his zeal for the Lord, proceeds to call down fire from heaven to consume the offering on the altar. This powerful display of God’s power leads the people to repentance, and they declare, ‘The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!’ (1 Kings 18:39).

Elijah’s prophetic messages not only addressed the spiritual condition of the people but also provided guidance and hope during challenging times. In 2 Kings 4, we encounter another story that showcases Elijah’s role as a prophet. A widow, whose husband served as one of the sons of the prophets, comes to Elijah in distress. She is in debt and is about to lose her two sons to slavery as payment. Elijah, moved by compassion, asks her what she has in her house. She replies, ‘Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.’ Elijah instructs her to gather empty vessels from her neighbors and pour the oil into them. Miraculously, the oil fills all the vessels until there are no more left, allowing the widow to sell the oil and pay off her debts.

This story demonstrates Elijah’s ability to provide practical solutions through his prophetic guidance. His teachings and messages not only touched the spiritual realm but also addressed the practical needs of the people.

Elijah’s Miracles and Supernatural Encounters

Elijah’s miracles and supernatural encounters are prominently portrayed in the biblical texts, illustrating his profound connection with the divine and his role as a vessel for God’s power. One remarkable instance of his supernatural encounter can be found in 1 Kings 19:11-13. After a significant victory against the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, Elijah found himself in a state of despair and exhaustion. In the midst of his vulnerability, God appeared to him in a powerful way:

‘The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.’

This supernatural encounter with God showcased His immense power, as He revealed Himself not in the mighty wind, earthquake, or fire, but in a gentle whisper. It emphasized the significance of listening for God’s voice in the midst of chaos and turmoil, reminding Elijah of his purpose and reigniting his faith.

Additionally, Elijah’s miracles further exemplify his divine authority. In 1 Kings 17:14-16, Elijah encountered a widow who was preparing to eat her last meal before succumbing to starvation. He boldly declared, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.” Miraculously, the widow’s flour and oil never ran out, sustaining her and her household throughout the drought.

Another extraordinary miracle performed by Elijah can be found in 2 Kings 4:32-35. He was called upon by a desperate woman whose son had unexpectedly died. Elijah prayed over the child, stretching himself over him three times, and the boy was miraculously revived, brought back to life by the power of God. These incredible demonstrations of God’s power through Elijah affirmed his role as a prophet and instilled hope and awe in those who witnessed them.

Elijah’s divine interventions not only impacted those directly involved but also influenced other biblical figures. In the New Testament, during Jesus’ transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared before Him, showcasing the continued significance and reverence for Elijah’s prophetic ministry (Matthew 17:1-3). This further exemplifies the lasting impact of Elijah’s supernatural encounters and miracles.

Elijah’s Influence on Other Biblical Figures

Moses and Elijah’s appearance before Jesus during His transfiguration in the New Testament demonstrates the enduring influence and reverence for Elijah’s prophetic ministry. This extraordinary event is described in Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:2-8, and Luke 9:28-36. As Jesus was transfigured before them, Moses and Elijah appeared and conversed with Him.

The presence of Moses and Elijah alongside Jesus holds great significance. Moses represents the Law, as he was the one who received the Ten Commandments from God on Mount Sinai. Elijah, on the other hand, represents the Prophets, as he was a prominent prophet in Israel’s history. Their presence at the transfiguration emphasizes that Jesus is the fulfillment of both the Law and the Prophets.

Elijah’s impact on other biblical figures is profound, as his teachings and example left a lasting impression on those who came after him. One notable figure influenced by Elijah is John the Baptist. In Luke 1:17, it is prophesied that John would go before the Lord ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah.’ This connection between John and Elijah highlights the continuation of Elijah’s prophetic ministry through John. Just as Elijah confronted idolatry and called for repentance, John the Baptist preached a message of repentance and prepared the way for Jesus.

Elijah’s powerful encounters with God and his unwavering commitment to proclaiming God’s truth made him a revered figure in Jewish and Christian traditions. His confrontation with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, as described in 1 Kings 18, is a remarkable example of his faithfulness and God’s power. Despite being outnumbered, Elijah called upon God, and fire came down from heaven, consuming the sacrifice and proving that the Lord is the one true God.

The legacy of Elijah’s boldness and dedication to upholding the worship of the one true God inspired others to follow his example. In 2 Kings 2, when Elijah was taken up to heaven in a whirlwind, his disciple Elisha asked for a double portion of his spirit. Elisha witnessed Elijah’s powerful ministry and desired to continue it. God granted Elisha’s request, and he performed even greater miracles than Elijah, demonstrating the lasting impact and influence of Elijah’s teachings.

Elijah’s significance in the Bible is also highlighted in the book of Malachi. In Malachi 4:5-6, it is prophesied that before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, Elijah will come to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. This prophecy is often interpreted as Elijah’s return or the coming of a prophet in the spirit of Elijah before the Messiah’s second coming.

Understanding the legacy and importance of Elijah in the Bible allows us to appreciate the profound impact he had on biblical history and the faith of those who followed him. Through his unwavering commitment to God, Elijah left a powerful example of faithfulness and dedication for future generations to emulate. His influence can still be felt today, as his teachings continue to inspire and guide believers in their walk with God.

Legacy and Importance of Elijah in the Bible

The enduring impact of Elijah’s teachings and example can be seen throughout biblical history, influencing other figures and shaping the faith of those who followed him. One of the most significant moments in Elijah’s life is his showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, as described in 1 Kings 18. In this powerful demonstration of God’s power, Elijah challenged the idolatry of his time and proved that the Lord is the one true God.

Elijah boldly declared to the people of Israel, ‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him’ (1 Kings 18:21). This question still rings true today, challenging us to examine our own allegiances and commit wholeheartedly to the Lord.

In response to Elijah’s challenge, the prophets of Baal spent hours calling upon their false god, but to no avail. Elijah, on the other hand, called upon the name of the Lord and immediately fire came down from heaven, consuming the sacrifice, the wood, the stones, and even the water in the trench (1 Kings 18:38). This miraculous display of God’s power not only affirmed Elijah’s role as a prophet, but also revealed the futility of idol worship.

Elijah’s unwavering commitment to God and his role as a mentor to his successor, Elisha, further exemplify his significance. Before his departure from this earth, Elijah asked Elisha what he could do for him before he was taken away. Elisha replied, ‘Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit’ (2 Kings 2:9). Elisha recognized the anointing and power that rested upon Elijah, desiring to continue his legacy.

Elijah’s example of faithfulness and dedication to God inspired future prophets and leaders, such as John the Baptist. In fact, in Luke 1:17, it is prophesied that John the Baptist would come ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous.’ This connection between Elijah and John the Baptist highlights the enduring impact of Elijah’s teachings and the continuity of God’s plan throughout history.

The story of Elijah continues to resonate with believers today, serving as a reminder of God’s faithfulness and the importance of standing up for truth in the face of opposition. It calls us to wholeheartedly follow the Lord, rejecting the idols and false gods of our time. As we read about Elijah’s miracles, his confrontations with kings, and his unwavering faith, we are encouraged to trust in God’s power and to faithfully fulfill our calling just as Elijah did.

Paul King

I post written versions of my powerful sermons exploring topics like prayer, praise, biblical truths, and more expressions of faith. My church has a deeply spiritual culture, which I try to convey through vivid storytelling and applications in our everyday life. I spread the Good Word with lots of conviction and passion.