Be a Prophet Like Elijah and Elisha

By Marjorie Foerster Eddington

Background Information
Elijah and Elisha were prophets for Israel, the northern kingdoms, at a time when Israel was governed by really bad kings and when the people's faith in God was wavering. The people were being influenced by those around them to disobey God and worship a god named Baal. Elijah destroyed the idols and revealed God's power, after which Jezebel, the queen, tried to kill him (I Kings 18-19). Aside from corruption within, the Israelites suffered from attacks by the Syrians. Through spiritual understanding, careful listening to God, and confidence, Elisha eventually helped free his people from Syrian aggression (II Kings 6). In the midst of confusion and disbelief, Elijah and Elisha proved that God was still all-powerful.

Elijah and Elisha made a difference. They:

  • Consistently listened closely to God.
  • Foretold events, as God had told them what would happen.
  • Affirmed that God was the only God in the face of those who would rather worship other gods.
  • Kept Israel from being captured or defeated by Syria: Elisha saved his nation because he told the king of Israel about Syria's specific plans (II Kings 6).
  • Helped people live through famine by providing supply in different ways: the women of Zerephath (I Kings 17) and Shunem (II Kings 4), widows, families. Learn more about these women.
  • Restored life and health to individuals: to the sons of the women and families who had helped them (I Kings 17, II Kings 4)).
  • Broke through stereotypes.
  • Expressed courage in the face of war, especially Elisha.

You can make a difference:

  • Listen closely and carefully to God.
  • Allow yourself to trust that God is taking care of your future. Foretelling events really has nothing to do with fortune telling. It has everything to do with listening to God. I bet you've had a sense of what would happen. That's God speaking to you. God knows how best to take care of us and is constantly telling us what to do. We just have to tune into God's channel.
  • Declare everyday that God is God, and that no one is going to make you believe otherwise. Like Elijah, destroy the idols in your life. Perhaps you can:
    • watch less TV;
    • spend more time with God and your family and less time on email or the internet;
    • examine what you're "worshipping" by seeing what you spend most of your time doing or thinking about;
    • love cars, food, clothes, money less, and love God more.
  • Keep yourself, your family, and your friends from being defeated from the inside or the outside:
    • be the peacemaker in your family: don't let arguments or differences tear you apart;
    • open the lines of communication;
    • find solutions to problems;
    • work and pray as a family together;
    • express gratitude for all the good in your family;
    • pray for our country and our men and women fighting to defend our country, regardless of what you think about the current situation.
  • Help others who are in need:
    • invite people over for dinner;
    • give those in need some of your clothes you no longer need;
    • give the gift of friendship and a listening ear;
  • Restore life and health to others and yourself:
    • heal someone;
    • help someone gain a better perspective -- a happier, more satisfied outlook on life.
  • Break through stereotypes:
    • make different friends at school;
    • try something new, even if people tell you that you can't do it because it's not your thing;
    • when peers make fun of other people, speak up to stop the cruelty instead of remaining silent (your silence only perpetuates the problem).
  • Express courage in the face of threats, violence, persecution:
    • stand up for what you believe;
    • help others get out of abusive situations (tell the appropriate people in authority who can help);
    • find peaceful (not weak) ways to deal with problems -- Elisha showed the Syrians mercy after he helped capture them.

Have fun thinking of other ways that you can be a prophet and help yourself, your family, school, church, community, and world see spiritual solutions.


Don't miss this interesting information provided by Bible scholar Mary Jane Chapin Chaignot, who answered questions regarding the women whose lives were changed by Elijah and Elisha. These women were blessed because they were willing and gracious enough to help the prophets in times of need.

What is the significance of the women being from Zarephath and Shunem?
The women of Zarephath and Shunem were most likely not Jews. Zarephath was definitely in Gentile territory. It was in Sidon, which was the hometown area of Jezebel, noted for her role in helping Ahab, the king of Israel, turn to pagan gods. There's not a definitive location for Shunem, but it is also believed to be Gentile country.

From the Biblical standpoint, there are so many parallels between Elijah and Elisha, that it makes total sense they would both have healed the son of a Gentile woman. The authors of I and II Kings wanted to make the point that Elisha was the true successor of Elijah, hence the repetition of many of Elijah's healings (much like Jesus, Peter, and then Paul).

Were there any customs, as there were in Jesus' time, that governed the Jews' entrance into homes of Gentiles?
Nothing is said about any customs preventing them from entering a Gentile's house. A lot of those limitations grew out of the exile period, which was after Elijah and Elisha. Frankly, other than not worshipping other gods, it's not clear what the Jewish customs were at this time. Scholars think that all the laws regarding cleanliness were finalized during the exile and then put back into Leviticus.

Is it possible that the women knew each other?
It's doubtful that the women knew each other. Women didn't get around much, and we don't know how much time passed between these two incidents. Plus we don't know for certain where Shunem was.

What do you see as significant in these women?
It is remarkable that these women treated the prophets so well. First of all, the woman of Zarepheth was a widow, and she was considered vulnerable. Men were supposed to take care of her. She exhibited great faith and qualities of hospitality in feeding Elijah. Later writers will remember this and make the point that God sent Elijah to be saved by a Gentile, not a Jewish widow. I think the major point here is one of hospitality, much like what Abraham did for the "three" visitors who announced the birth of Isaac. He showed great hospitality, and that's a good quality. The women showed great hospitality and likewise were rewarded.