Today, we meet one of the most interesting characters in the bible, Elijah. As the representative prophet of scripture, Elijah plays a huge role throughout the bible, from here through Revelation.
In today’s reading alone, Elijah confronts one of Israel’s most evil kings, raises a young man from the dead, and calls down fire from God. Moving forward, Elijah becomes the forerunner of the coming Messiah and takes his place in the Seder celebration that Israel has been celebrating since the Exodus. Not only does he have a Cup of his own (the other four are drunk in celebration of the events of the Exodus – only his cup remains undrunk throughout the meal), and not only does he have his own recitation, “Elijah the Prophet, Elijah the Tishbite, Elijah the Gileadite, come speedily…”, but he is prophecied to arrive at the Seder to herald the Messiah’s arrival.
In fact, Jesus even calls John the Baptist “Elijah, if you can understand it” not to say that Elijah was reincarnated – that doesn’t exist – but to say that as Elijah represented the forerunner of the Messiah, so John the Baptist was filling that role.
Later, when Peter, James, and John join Jesus on what has become known as the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus meets with those representing the entire Old Testament, the Law and the Prophets, and these are Moses and Elijah.
So prophet of the Messiah, representative of all the Prophets, Elijah is a deeply important figure. But even one as important as Elijah is only a forerunner, a follower, a servant of Jesus. We do not worship Moses, the law of the Old Testament. We do not worship Elijah, the prophecy of the Old Testament. We worship Jesus, the Son of God, the prophecied Messiah who came to fulfill the law.
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