The fifth edition of Charles Swindoll's Great Lives series is entitled Elijah, A Man of Heroism and Humility, and takes us through the "biblical life" of the Hebrew prophet Elijah as detailed in the Old Testament in 1,2 Kings. I use the term "biblical life" here because Elijah bursts onto the scene in about 900 B.C. in the northern kingdom of Israel, already an older man. He is used mightily by God and then leaves this earth in a most unusual manner. He is only one of two people recorded in the scriptures who passed into God's presence directly, without experiencing death.
Elijah serves as God's appointed and anointed prophet. The kingdom of Israel is lead by King Ahab and his domineering wife Queen Jezebel. They are described as among the most wicked people on the face of the earth. Under their leadership, the kingdom has been turned away from worshipping God; all of this has occurred just a few generations after King David had left a united and God-fearing nation. Ahab and Jezebel worshipped a god known as Baal. Elijah serves as God's instrument to rid the land of Baal, along with his priests and prophets, by reminding them of the one true God. However, before Elijah is ready to be used mightily by God, he is trained to fully rely on God by hiding out during a long drought at a secluded brook and later by living with a poor woman and her son.
The pinnacle of Elijah's moment on this earth is the showdown that he sets up for the people to witness between himself and the prophets of Baal. Each side was called to erect an altar and call upon their God to rain down fire and set it ablaze. The false prophets danced and carried on for hours next to their altar and were silenced. Elijah had his altar soaked with water before he called upon God to set it alight. Of course, that is just what God did. Many people where called back to God that very day. Ultimately, Elijah, having fulfilled his calling and purpose from God, with heroism and true humiility at every step along the way, trained his successor Elisha to take his place. Now, on to the next volume in the series, Paul, A Man of Grace and Grit.