Certainly one of the greatest prophets recorded in the Word of God was Elijah. Interestingly, we are provided little on his upbringing, education, and profession. However, the first abrupt appearance of “Elijah” in the Bible hints at the manner of man this was.
1Kings 17:1 (KJV) And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead […]
Thus, Elijah was dropped into the scriptures suddenly, proclaiming only that he was “the Tishbite.” The significance of this is profound. It is a city never mentioned previously in the bible. There had yet been no note-worthy prophets, leaders, men, or women that had ever come from here. It is a city, where many theologians submit, that was full of laborers who were un-kept, leather skinned, hairy, and un-educated. Therefore, the expectation surrounding this “Tishbite,” Elijah, was poised to achieve an equal insignificance. Simply put, no-one would expect much out of this insignificant man, from an insignificant family, in an insignificant city.
I believe the origin of Elijah was divinely intended. If we were to honestly and transparently reflect within ourselves (especially in our sinful condition), we would realize that we too are men and women poised for failure. Who am I to even entertain the hope of becoming or having “more,” in light of my sinful past? Who truly has a pedigree, education, or lineage that immediately demands and inherits the blessing of God? Honestly, we are all guilty of sin (Rom 3:23) and deserve the lowly reputation and life of a “Tishbite.” The Bible even prompts us to notice this similarity we have with the Elijah saying,
James 5:17 (KJV) Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are[…]
In the same verse, the ISV translation reads “Elijah was a man just like us”. The CEV says, “Elijah was just as human as we are.” We are people in whom situation, history, and lineage don’t destine success. However, God intended to take this “no-body” and show something applicable to every-body. Within chapter 17 of 1 Kings, Elijah was immediately used by God, despite his background.
– In verse 1, he prophesied accurately about a drought,
– In verse 2, he heard the voice and direction of the Lord,
– In verse 6, he was provided food by God during the drought,
– In verse 8, he directly heard from the Lord again,
– In verse 15, God used a widow to provide for him.
– In verse 22, God “heard the voice of Elijah” and raised the woman’s son from the dead.
By the end of this chapter, Elijah had been used mightily by God. The humble “Tishbite” – expected to be a man of no great effect – had heard the voice of the Lord directly, been used in prophesy, had experienced miracles of provision from God, and was used to raise a woman’s child from the dead. The simple words that would follow, identify one of the greatest transformations of seemingly insignificant individuals.
1Kings 17:24 (KJV) And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth.
No more was this a man seen for his humble beginnings. No more was he plagued with the remembrance of who he was, where he came from, or what was expected of him. His walked with God transformed him into being now known as Elijah the “man of God.”
The significance of this is simple: who we are doesn’t have to dictate what we become. If the Word of God is true, then Elijah was the same manner of man that we are (James 5:17). Thus, we are capable of the same measure of greatness he is. You may have come from a lifestyle of sin, a city that’s no-one has heard of, a family that didn’t know God – but you can end this life a man or woman of God! The bible says that “God is no respector of persons” (Acts 10:34). So any perceived limitation we have with God (whether it be due to our past or present), is really of our own creation and will be our own self-fulfilling prophesy. Instead, let us understand that there is no limit to the depths in God we can reach if we follow him. You can become an anointed and blessed man or woman of God.
Elijah wasn’t content to live at the level of the expectation others had for him. He found the will of God for his life (the expectation of God for his life) and lived at that level. Likewise, we ought to never settle for mediocrity when we are capable of greatness. God didn’t call you to be a “Tishbite” – to look like a Tishbite, talk like a Tishbite, act like a Tishbite, or live like a Tishbite. He called you to be a man/woman of God!
I close with this thought, knowing the capacity you have to excel in God, what would stop you from becoming that man or woman of God today? What would stop you from getting serious about your faith? What would stop you from getting serious about church? What would stop you from repenting, getting baptized in Jesus’s name, and letting God fill you with His Spirit? (Acts 2:38, John 3:5).
God is ready to change you from and insignificant “Tishbite” into a significant Spirit-filled man or woman of God that turns the known world up-side down! God has a greater calling, plan, and purpose for you (Jeremiah 1:5, Jeremiah 29:11).