Here’s what the angel Gabriel said about Zechariah and Elizabeth’s son John: “He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared” (Luke 1:17).
Who was Elijah? He was an Old Testament prophet who infuriated some and blessed others. He called for a three year famine to move God’s people to repentance during the reign of Ahab. He also miraculously provided for a widow during that time. He wiped out the prophets of Baal after his sacrifice to the true God was consumed with fire from heaven.
Four hundred years before, Malachi had prophesied, “I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes” (Malachi 4:5). Everyone had their eyes peeled for an Elijah-type personality. When he showed up, the Messiah couldn’t be far behind. And then it would finally rain. Or as Jesus put it, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37).
Later, Jesus would help his audience put the pieces together by explaining, “if you are willing to accept it, [John] is Elijah who is to come” (Matthew 11:14). Not only that, but this is how Jesus identifies himself as the Christ.
Sometimes we need an Elijah to get our attention, call us to repentance, and turn our hearts to Christ. Thank God for those people in our lives who challenge us, “What are you doing?” Or urge us, “You need to make better choices!” Or even better, “Our God abounds in steadfast love.”
Who’s your Elijah? For whom might you be an Elijah?
Thank you, Lord, for those Elijah-types in my life, who grab my attention and remind me of you. Amen.