Catechesis
Holy Prophet Elisha
Feast Day - June 14

The Holy Prophet Elisha lived in the ninth century before the Birth of Christ, and was a native of the village of Abelmaum, near Jordan. By the command of the Lord he was called to prophetic service by the holy Prophet Elias (July 20).

When it became time for the Prophet Elias to be taken up to Heaven, he said to Elisha, "Ask what shall I do for you, before I am taken from you." Elisha boldly asked for a double portion of the grace of God: "Let there be a double portion of your spirit upon me." The Prophet Elias said, "You have asked a hard thing; if you see me when I am taken from you, then so shall it be for you; but if you don't see me, it wilt not be" (4 [2] Kings 2: 12). As they went along the way talking, there appeared a fiery chariot and horses and separated them both. Elisha cried out, "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horse!" (4 Kings 2: 12). Picking up the mantle of his teacher which fell from the sky, Elisha received the power and prophetic gift of Elias. He spent more than 65 years in prophetic service, under six Israelite kings (from Ahab to Joash). While Elisha lived, he did not tremble before any prince, and no word could overcome him (Sirach 48: 13 ["Sirach" is called "Ecclesiasticus" in Catholic Bibles ]).

The holy prophet worked numerous miracles. He divided the waters of the Jordan, having struck it with the mantle of the Prophet Elias; he made the waters of a Jericho spring fit for drinking; he saved the armies of the kings of Israel and Judah that stood in an arid wilderness by bringing forth abundant water by his prayer; he delivered a poor widow from death by starvation through a miraculous increase of oil in a vessel. The Shunamite woman showing hospitality to the prophet was gladdened by the birth of a son through his prayer, and when the child died, he was raised back to life by the prophet. The Syrian military-commander Namaan was healed from leprosy but the prophet's servant Gehazi was afflicted since he disobeyed the prophet and took money from Namaan on the sly.

Elisha predicted to the Israelite king Joash the victory over his enemies, and by the power of his prayer he worked many other miracles (4 Kings 3-13). The holy Prophet Elisha died in old age at Samaria. "In his life he worked miracles, and at death his works were marvellous" (Sir. 48: 15). A year after his death, a corpse was thrown into the prophet's grave. As soon as the dead man touched Elisha's bones, he came to life and stood up (4 Kings 13: 20-21). The Prophet Elisha and his teacher, the Prophet Elias, left no books behind them, since their prophetic preaching was oral. Jesus, son of Sirach, praised both great prophets (Sir. 48:1-15).

John of Damascus composed a canon in honor of the Prophet Elisha, and at Constantinople a church was built in his honor.

Julian the Apostate (361-363) gave orders to burn the relics of the Prophet Elisha, Abdia (Obadiah) and John the Forerunner, but the holy relics were preserved by believers, and part of them were transferred to Alexandria.

In the twentieth century, the humble priest Nicholas Planas had a great veneration for the Prophet Elisha, and was accounted worthy to see him in visions.


Original Source: Orthodox Church in America - www.oca.org
 
Holy Prophet Elijah
Feast Day - July 20

The Holy Prophet Elijah is one of the greatest of the prophets and the first dedicated to virginity in the Old Testament. He was born in Tishba of Gilead into the Levite tribe 900 years before the Incarnation of the Word of God.

St Epiphanius of Cyprus gives the following account about the birth of the Prophet Elijah: "When Elijah was born, his father Sobach saw in a vision angels of God around him. They swaddled him with fire and fed him with flames." The name Elijah (the Lord's strength) given to the infant defined his whole life. From the years of his youth he dedicated himself to the One God, settled in the wilderness and spent his whole life in strict fasting, meditation and prayer. Called to prophetic service, which put him in conflict with the Israelite king Ahab, the prophet became a fiery zealot of true faith and piety.

During this time the Israelite nation had fallen away from the faith of their Fathers, they abandoned the One God and worshipped pagan idols, the worship of which was introduced by the impious king Jereboam. Jezebel, the wife of king Ahab, was devoted to idol worship. She persuaded her husband to build a temple to the pagan god Baal, which led many Israelites away from the worship of the true God. Beholding the ruin of his nation, the Prophet Elijah began to denounce King Ahab for impiety, and exhorted him to repent and turn to the God of Israel. The king would not listen to him. The Prophet Elijah then declared to him, that as punishment there would be neither rain nor dew upon the ground, and the drought would cease only by his prayer. Indeed, the word of Elijah was a torch (Eccles. 48: 1) The heavens were closed for three and a half years, and there was drought and famine throughout all the land.

During this time of tribulation, the Lord sent him to a cave beyond the Jordan. There he was miraculously fed by ravens. When the stream Horath dried up, the Lord sent the Prophet Elijah to Sarephta to a poor widow, a Sidonian Gentile who suffered together with her children, awaiting death by starvation. At the request of the prophet, she prepared him a bread with the last measure of flour and the remainder of the oil. Through the prayer of the Prophet Elijah, flour and oil were not depleted in the home of the widow for the duration of the famine. By the power of his prayer the prophet also performed another miracle: he raised the dead son of the widow.

After the end of three years of drought the Merciful Lord sent the prophet to appear before King Ahab, and promised to send rain upon the earth. The Prophet Elijah told the king to order all of Israel to gather upon Mount Carmel, and also the priests of Baal. When the nation had gathered, the Prophet Elijah proposed that two sacrificial altars be built: one for the priests of Baal, and the other for the Prophet Elijah who served the True God.

The Prophet Elijah told them to call on their gods to consume the sacrificial animals with fire, and he would call on his. Whichever was first to send fire on the sacrifice would be acknowledged as the true God. The prophets of Baal called out to their idol from morning till evening, but the heavens were silent. Towards evening the holy Prophet Elijah built his sacrificial altar from twelve stones, the number of the tribes of Israel. He placed the sacrifice upon the wood, gave orders to dig a ditch around the altar and commanded that the sacrifice and the wood be soaked with water. When the ditch had filled with water, the prophet turned to God in prayer. Through the prayer of the prophet fire came down from heaven and consumed the sacrifice, the wood, and even the water. The people fell down to the ground, crying out: "Truly, the Lord is God!" Then the Prophet Elijah had all the pagan-priests of Baal put to death, and he began to pray for rain. Through his prayer the heavens opened and an abundant rain fell, soaking the parched earth.

King Ahab acknowledged his error and repented of his sins, but his wife Jezebel threatened to kill the prophet of God. The Prophet Elijah fled into the Kingdom of Judea and, grieving over his failure to eradicate idol worship, he asked God to let him die. An angel of the Lord came before him, strengthened him with food and commanded him to go upon a long journey. The Prophet Elijah traveled for forty days and nights and, having arrived at Mount Horeb, he settled in a cave.

The Lord told him that the next day Elijah would stand in His presence.There was a strong wind that crushed the rocks of the mountain, then an earthquake, and a fire, but the Lord was not in them. The Lord was in "a gentle breeze" (3 Kings 19: 12). He revealed to the prophet, that He would preserve seven thousand faithful servants who had not worshipped Baal.

Later, the Lord commanded Elijah to anoint Elisha into prophetic service. Because of his fiery zeal for the Glory of God the Prophet Elijah was taken up alive into Heaven in a fiery chariot. The Prophet Elisha received Elijah's mantle, and a double portion of his prophetic spirit.

According to the Tradition of Holy Church, the Prophet Elijah will be the Forerunner of the Dread Second Coming of Christ. He will proclaim the truth of Christ, urge all to repentance, and will be slain by the Antichrist. This will be a sign of the end of the world.

The life of the holy Prophet Elijah is recorded in the Old Testament books (3 Kings; 4 Kings; Sirach/Ecclesiastes 48: 1-15; 1 Maccabees 2: 58). At the time of the Transfiguration, the Prophet Elijah conversed with the Savior upon Mount Tabor (Mt. 17: 3; Mark 9: 4; Luke. 9: 30).

Christians of the True Faith of all times, and in all places, have venerated the Prophet Elijah for centuries. The first church in Russia, built at Kiev under Prince Igor, was named for the Prophet Elijah. After her Baptism St Olga (July 14) built a temple of the holy Prophet Elijah in his native region, at the village of Vibuta.

In iconography the Prophet Elijah is depicted ascending to Heaven in a fiery chariot, surrounded with flames, and harnessed to four winged horses. We pray to him for deliverance from drought, and to ask for seasonable weather.


Original Source: Orthodox Church in America - www.oca.org
 
Holy Prophet King Solomon
Feast Day - December 11

The biblical King Solomon was known for his wisdom, his wealth and his writings. Solomon was the son of King David and Bathsheba. Solomon was not the oldest son of David, but David promised Bathsheba that Solomon would be the next king. When David’s elder son Adonijah declared himself king, David ordered his servants to bring Solomon to the Gihon spring where the priest anointed him while David was still alive. Solomon inherited a considerable empire from his father.

Although he was a ruler at a young age, he soon became known for his wisdom. The first and most famous incident of his cleverness as a judge was when two women came to his court with a baby whom both women claimed as their own. Solomon threatened to split the baby in half. One woman was prepared to accept the decision, but the other begged the King to give the live baby to the other woman. Solomen then knew the second woman was the mother.

People from surrounding nations also came to hear Solomon’s wisdom. He composed 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs. He wrote the Song of Songs, the Book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

Once Solomon’s empire was tranquil, he began to build the Holy Temple. He received wood from King Hiram of Tyre and imposed a compulsory labor service on both the Israelites and the foreign nations that were under his control. Solomon was also renowned for his other building projects in which he used slave labor from the Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. He spent 13 years building his own palace, and also built a city wall, a citadel called the Millo, a palace for the daughter of Pharaoh (who was one of his wives) and facilities for foreign traders. He erected cities for chariots and horsemen and created storage cities. He extended Jerusalem to the north and fortified cities near the mountains of Judah and Jerusalem.

Solomon’s downfall came in his old age. He had taken many foreign wives, whom he allowed to worship other gods. He even built shrines for the sacrifices of his foreign wives. Within Solomon’s kingdom, he placed heavy taxation on the people, who became bitter. He also had the people work as soldiers, chief officers and commanders of his chariots and cavalry. He granted special privileges to the tribes of Judah and this alienated the northern tribes. The prophet Ahijah of Shiloh prophesied that Jeroboam son of Nebat would become king over ten of the 12 tribes, instead of one of Solomon’s sons.

Solomon died in Jerusalem after 40 years as ruler of Israel. He was buried in the City of David. His son, Rehoboam succeeded him as king. Under Rehobaum’s rule, Solomon’s empire was lost and his kingdom was divided into two parts.
 
Holy Prophet King David
Feast Day - December 26

The Holy Prophet-King David was a forefather of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh. The youngest son of Jesse, David shepherded a flock of sheep belonging to his father. He was distinguished by his deep faith, and he zealously fulfilled the will of God.

During a battle with the Philistines, he vanquished the giant Goliath in single combat, which decided the outcome of the war in favor of the Israelites. He endured many things from King Saul, who saw him as a favorite of the people and his rival. David, however, showed his own decency and magnanimity. Twice, when he had the possibility of killing Saul, he did not do so.

After Saul and his son perished, David was proclaimed king of the southern part of Israel, and after Saul's second son was killed, he became king of all Israel. He built a new capital, Jerusalem ("the City of Peace"), and a new tabernacle. His great wish to build a Temple was not realized. It was foretold to him that his son would build the Temple.

The life of the Prophet David was darkened by a grievous falling: he took Uriah's wife for himself, and sent Uriah to his death in battle. He was also an example of great repentance, humbly and with faith bearing the sorrows sent in punishment for his sins. St David gave a model for repentance in Psalm 50/51. King David died in great old age with steadfast faith in the coming of the promised Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ. His divinely-inspired Psalter is widely used in the divine services and in personal prayers. (See the Books of Kings and Chronicles).

The holy Prophet-King David is invoked by those facing a difficult situation, such as an interview, etc.


Original Source: Orthodox Church in America - www.oca.org
 
Holy Prophet Moses
Feast Day - September 4

The Holy Prophet and God-Seer Moses was of the tribe of Levi, the son of Abram and Jochabed (Exodus 6:20). His life is described in the Bible (Exodus 2 through Deuteronomy 34:12).

Moses was born in Egypt around 1689 B.C. When Pharaoh ordered all male children of the Hebrew slaves to be killed (Exodus 1:22), Moses' mother placed him in a basket of papyrus coated with pitch, and set him adrift on the Nile. Pharaoh's daughter found him and raised him as her own son.

At the age of eighty, Moses fled to Midian, where he spoke to God in the Burning Bush on Mt. Horeb (Exodus 3:2). God chose Moses to lead His people from the slavery of Egypt. They crossed the Red Sea as if it were dry land, and for forty years they wandered in the desert.

Arriving in the land of Moab, Moses went to the top of Mt. Nabau, or Nebo (Deuteronomy 32:49), which is called Phasga (Deut. 34:1). There, according to the will of God, he died in 1569 B.C. at the age of 120 without entering the Promised Land.

The first two Biblical Odes are attributed to Moses: "Let us sing to the Lord…" (Exodus 15:1-9), which was sung on the shores of the Red Sea after the Hebrews had crossed it. "Attend, O heaven…" (Deut. 32:1-43) was sung in the land of Moab, a few days before Moses' death. He is also regarded as the author of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament).

The holy Prophet Moses performed many miracles during his lifetime, and also after his death. He appeared on Tabor with the Prophet Elias at the Transfiguration of the Lord (August 6).

On the day that St John of the Ladder (March 30) was installed as abbot of Mt. Sinai, the Prophet Moses was seen going around and giving orders to the cooks, stewards, and servants. When the guests had gone and the monks were sitting at table, they wondered what had become of the stranger who had been giving orders. St John said, "Our Lord Moses does nothing strange by serving in the place which belongs to him."


Original Source: Orthodox Church in America - www.oca.org
 
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