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Elijah's Ascent in a Chariot of Fire by Gustav Dore

Elijah was an ancient biblical prophet who preached to the people of the northern kingdom of Israel, which had separated from the southern kingdom of Judah. Owing to the decadence of Israel's rulers, Ahab and Jezebel, the people had almost entirely abandoned the worship of Jehovah and had become worshippers of the Phoenecian god Ba'al. Because of Elijah's manifested power and his performance of miracles, he is considered to be one of the greatest ancient prophets. Malachi 4:5 prophecies of his future return. The New Testament record shows that some thought that Jesus himself was Elijah returned. As a result of his ministry, Ba'al worship was greatly reduced as a threat to Israel.

Elijah's Miracles

  • Elijah prophecied and pronounced life and death predictions to Ahab and Jezebel. These were fulfilled.
  • Elijah called down fire from heaven to consume the wicked priests of Ba'al.
  • Elijah sealed the heavens so that there was no rain for three and a half years.
  • Elijah blessed the widow's supply of meal and oil, so that it sustained her and her son through the famine.
  • Elijah raised a boy from the dead.
  • Elijah was translated in a chariot of fire that went up by a whirlwind into heaven (2 King 2:11, 12).

Elijah and Latter-day Revelation

Elijah held the sealing powers of the Melchizedek Priesthood. He was the last prophet to hold these powers until Christ Himself. He appeared as a translated being with Moses (also a translated being) on the Mount of Transfiguration to confer the keys of the Priesthood upon Peter, James, and John (Matthew 17:3).

Elijah has returned as promised. He appeared on April 3, 1836, in the Kirtland Temple to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery to restore the keys of the sealing power in preparation for the Second Coming of Christ (Doctrine and Covenants 110:13-16). He returned on the Jewish high holy day of Bikkurim, which occurs near the beginning of Passover. Traditionally Jews reserve a seat for Elijah at the Passover seder table in expectation of his return. Tradition holds that the Messiah will come very shortly after Elijah's return.

Bikkurim is an almost forgotten holiday, but its imagery is profound. Occurring the "day after the Sabbath during the Passover," it is the offering of the first grain of the new harvest season in the spring. A field was planted near the temple, which could be neither watered nor weeded -- it had to grow up unto itself. With the common consent of the people, the priests selected a perfect sheaf and set it apart with a flaxen cord. It was then harvested and offered as a wave offering to guarantee a perfect harvest throughout the rest of the year. As this wave offering was presented, Christ was resurrected, guaranteeing a perfect harvest of resurrected beings for eternity.

The sealing power of God, administered by Elijah, is the power that seals in heaven what is bound on earth. The sealing power is used in all the ordinances of the gospel for the living and the dead.