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The man who needs no introduction

By REV. DANNY GODDARD - For The Courier-Times

Most biblical figures come with a brief bio, a Bible verse or two that give their name, where they’re from, maybe who their parents were, and something about their character. That’s not the case with Elijah. The first glimpse of him is in 1 Kings 17:1, “Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab …” Without introduction, explanation, preparation, or warning, the prophet Elijah suddenly appears in an era of gross evil and wickedness! King Ahab was the worst king in the history of Israel! (1 Kings 16:30-33) Though Elijah’s introduction is extremely brief, it gives us a few things that can help us today …

To begin with, we are given his name, “Elijah,” a name that was sure to get the attention of any Israelite! The Hebrew word for “God” is “Elohim,” often abbreviated, “El.” “Jah” is the word for “Jehovah.” In between is “I,” a personal pronoun meaning “my”or “mine.” Put them together: “My God is Jehovah” or “The Lord is my God” So Elijah bursts on the scene of rampant idolatry with a name that proclaimed, “I have one God, His Name is Jehovah, He’s the One I serve!”

In the second place, we notice his origin. The Bible tells us Elijah was “the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead.” So we know he’s from Tishbe, but where is that? No one seems to know. It’s not even on the map!

In the Christmas story, Herod asked the Wise Men where Jesus was to be born. The answer was, “In Bethlehem of Judea.” Then they quote the prophet Micah, “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.” (Matthew 2:5-6) The smallness of Bethlehem is stressed, yet from this tiny town came the Savior of the world! So Elijah comes from a tiny spot in the road to become a legend among the prophets of God.

Finally, we have his style. Without hesitation, he’s in the king’s face! “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.’” (1 Kings 17:1)

Elijah has declared himself the servant of Lord in the midst of Baal worship! Without preparing the audience with any warning, he has announced, “No rain!” One writer says, “He’s shaking his fist in the devil’s face!” This was a serious matter—no crops meant cattle will die, people will die! But God is looking for “Elijahs” today to call sin “sin” and take a stand. Might that person be you?

What is your name? What are you called? Do people know you are a Christian without your telling them? Where are you from?

Are you from a godly home or one where there was no mention of God? What’s your style? Though it may be unpopular, are you willing to take a stand for Jesus?

My Dad suffered for years from diabetes and kidney disease. After we lost my mom, Daddy had no one to cook his specialized meals, so he hired the lady across the street. When Annabelle ran into health problems herself, Dad moved in temporarily with his niece and nephew and their 16-year old daughter so his niece could prepare his meals.

The teenaged daughter, my cousin, did not attend church but she watched Dad while he was in their home. She noticed something different about him, something attractive, she had heard that he was “a Christian.” My dad passed away a few weeks later. Standing with me by my dad’s flag-draped casket, my teenaged cousin made a statement I’ll never forget, “If a Christian is what he was, that’s what I want to be.”

So you may be a Christian today in a godless world. Can people see a difference in you? Do they find that something is different about you? Are you like the prophet Elijah—you need no introduction because your mere presence says it all? May we have more Elijahs from Tishbe among us!

The Rev. Danny Goddard is senior pastor at  New Castle First Church of the Nazarene. He is a regular contributor to Faith Perspective.