- The Holy Prophet Elias (Elijah) Saint Elias–the God-seer, miracle-worker and zealot for faith in God–was born of the tribe of Aaron in the town Tishba, for which he was called the Tishbite. When Elias was born, his father Sabbas saw angela of God hovering around the child, wrapping the child in fire and feeding him flames. That was a foreshadowing of Elias’s fiery character and his God-given fiery power. He spent his entire youth in divine contemplation and prayer, withdrawing frequently into the wilderness to contemplate and pray in tranquility. At that time the Jewish kingdom was divided into two unequal parts: the kingdom of Judah consisting of only two tribes–the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, with their capital in Jerusalem; and the kingdom of Israel consisting of the remaining ten tribes, with their capital in Samaria. The former was governed by the descendants of Solomon, and the latter was governed by the descendants of Jeroboam, a servant of Solomon. The greatest confrontation that the prophet Elias had was with the Israelite King Ahab and his evil wife Jezebel, for they worshipped idols and were turning the people away from serving the One Living God. In addition Jezebel, a Syrian, persuaded her husband to erect a temple to the Syrian god Baal and appointed many priests to the service of this false god. Through great miracles Elias displayed the power and authority of God. He closed up the heavens, so that there was no rain for three years and six months; he called fire down from heaven to consume the sacrifice to God, which the pagan priests were unable to do for the false god, Baal; he brought rain by his prayer; he miraculously multiplied flour and oil in the home of the widow in Zarephath, and resurrected her son; he prophesied to Ahab that the dogs would lick up his blood, and to Jezebel that the dogs would consume her flesh– all of which came to pass; and he performed many other miracles, and prophesied other events as well. He spoke with God, and heard the voice of God in the calm after the wind, earthquake and fire on Mount Horeb. Before his death, he designated Elisha as his successor in the prophetic calling; and, with his mantle, he divided the waters of the Jordan. Finally, he was taken up into the heavens in a fiery chariot drawn by fiery horses. On Mount Tabor he appeared together with Moses beside our Lord Jesus Christ. At the end of the world, St. Elias will appear again, to put an end to the power of the Antichrist [Revelation, Chapter 11]. *)
*) In the Greek Synaxarion the following miracle of the holy Prophet Elias
is recorded: “A certain Paisius, Abbot of the Monastery of the holy Prophet Elias in Jerusalem, came to Constantinople, and from Constantinople went to Belgrade, at the time that Patriarch Paisius was there. At that time there lived in Belgrade an Orthodox Christian who had a Roman Catholic wife. On St. Elias’s day his wife was going to knead bread, but her husband said to her, ‘Today is the Feast of the Prophet Elias, and you shouldn’t work.’ His wife replied that this feast had passed ten days earlier (according to the papal calendar). And so a quarrel arose between them. The stubborn woman kneaded the dough, but lo the wonder! The dough turned to stone in her hands. All the neighbors gathered to see the miracle and each one took a piece of the stone. Paisius also happened to be there, and he likewise took a piece of the stone as evidence of the miracle of God and took it with him to Jerusalem. Paisius placed the stone before an icon of the holhy Prophet Elias in his monastery.”
- Saint Elias, Patriarch Of Jerusalem, And Saint Flavius, Patriarch Of Antioch. Saint Elias and Saint Flavius were great zealots for the Faith and defenders of Orthodoxy. They were driven into exile by the heretical Emperor Anastasius, anbd there they both died. They precisely foresaw the death of Emperor Anastasius, as well as their own death. They wrote to each other at the same time from places quite far apart: “Anastasius the emperor died today, let us both go before the judgment of God with him.” Two days later, both saints died, in the year 518 A.D.
Hymn Of Praise
Saint Elias The Prophet
O fiery man, Prophet Elias,
With heavenly radiance, you shone on earth
And pleased the Lord by your prayers:
You closed the heavens, and from heaven, brought down fire–
All with the help of God’s mighty right hand.
For their lack of faith, you rebuked men;
And for the Living God, you were greatly zealous,
And, as its prophet, the Church celebrates you.
The king did not frighten you and the queen, even less,
For your king and all your wealth was the Lord God:
Food and drink were not your concern.
To God’s providence, you were wholely dedicated,
And fearing none, you were fearful to all–
As a powerful lion is to little mice.
For the Living God, you were greatly zealous,
And as its prophet, the Church celebrates you.
As few else, the Lord glorified you,
For the Living God you glorified!
To consume the sacrifice, God sent you fire;
To raise the dead, power He gave you–
All the world, your mighty works amazed:
All your prophecies were fulfilled.
In soul and body, you were alive and whole,
Wherefore death had no part in you.
In both soul and body, O prophet of God:
Glory! we exclaim to you with joyful souls.
Writing about the life of his sister St. Macrina, St. Gregory of Nyssa hesitates to enumerate her miracles, saying: “…that I may not be responsible for the sin of unbelief among weak men.” His term for those who do not believe is “weak.” Truly, there is nothing weaker than a man without faith. The man without faith believes in the power of dead things and dead elements of nature, but does not believe in the power of God or of men of God. This is spiritual dullness, and this dullness is equivalent to spiritual death. Thus, living souls believe and dead souls do not believe. Living souls believe in the powerful miracles of the Prophet Elias. These miracles give them courage and joy, for they know that they are a manifestation of the might of God. When God manifests His might through lifeless things and elements of nature, why would He not manifest it through living and holy men? The Prophet Elias’s appearance on Mount Tabor at the time of the Transfiguration of the Lord in particular gives the faithful the greatest joy. During his life on earth, this great prophet gave proof of the existence of the One and Living God and, by his appearance on Mt. Tabor hundreds of years after his departure from the earth, he gave mankind visible proof of life after death.
To contemplate God’s miraculous aid to the Israelites in battle (Deuteronomy 2- 3):
- How Moses defeated the pagan kings, Sihon of the Amorites and Og, king of Basan, for it was God’s will that they perish;
- How Moses was unable to take the land of Moab, for God did not want this, for the sake of the descendants of the righteous Lot;
- How victory and defeat in wars do not occur without God’s permission.
About the apostle’s personal testimony
“This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased.” And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount" (2 Peter 1:17- 18).
Let us hear the testimony of the true and faithful one who was crucified on a cross because of his testimony. Let us hear the Apostle Peter, who proved what he was unable to prove by his words, by his bloody death on the cross, being crucified upside down by the pagans. He testifies that he was on the holy mountain, i.e., Mount Tabor, when our Lord was transfigured, and Moses with Elias appeared. He testifies that a voice was heard from heaven, saying: This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased (2 Peter 1:17). In this text, the apostle does not speak of what he and his companions saw on the holy mountain, which is narrated in the Gospel, but repeats only that which they heard. That which they heard is just as important as that which they saw. Therefore, let mankind hear that the apostle saw the Lord Jesus transfigured in a wondrous, heavenly light, and let them know that He is the Son of God. Let mankind also hear that the apostles saw Moses and Elias alive, and let them know that life after death is real, as is the judgment of God. Let them also hear the Lord Jesus called the Son of God–by God the Father Himself, and not by mere men. Those who speak these words to mankind and relate to them what their eyes saw and what their ears heard are faithful and true witnesses. He who does not believe the apostles, believes Judas, Caiaphas, Herod and Nero–the persecutors of the apostles and traitors to the truth. He who does not believe in the righteous ones has no alternative but to believe in the unrighteous ones. He who does not believe in the pure ones, must believe in the impure ones. He who does not believe in those who suffer for the truth, must believe in the torturers and libertines. Day does not dawn for any other reason than that mankind may take sides with one or the other. O Lord, our Savior and Enlightener, enlighten our souls by Your holy words, for which Your apostles suffered. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.