Great is the virtue of fasting; in short so splendid is the warfare that it delighted even Christ to fast; and so mighty that it raised people to heaven. And, that we may use human rather than divine examples, a word sent from the fasting mouth of Elijah closed heaven to the sacrilegious people of the Jews. For when an altar had been set up to an idol by Ahab, at the word of the prophet for three years and six months dewy rain did not fall on the earth. A worthy punishment fittingly to check insolence, that heaven should be closed to the impious who had polluted the things of earth! It was also right that a prophet, for the condemnation of a sacrilegious king, was sent to a widow in Zarephath of Sidonia, who, since she preferred piety to food, merited that she alone should not feel the distress of the general drought. And so the “urn of barley meal did not fail” when the water of the torrent failed. Why should I present the rest of this history? While fasting he raised the widow’s son from the dead, while fasting he brought down rain at his word, while fasting he drew down fire from heaven, while fasting he was snatched in a chariot to heaven, and by a fast of forty days he gained the presence of God. Then finally, he deserved more when he fasted more. With fasting mouth he caused the waters of the Jordan to stand, and with dusty footsteps he passed over the channel of the overflowing stream suddenly become dry. The divine will judged him to be just and worthy of heaven, so that with his very body he was snatched up, since he lived the heavenly life in the body and exemplified on earth the manner of living above.1
EPHREM THE SYRIAN:
From the typological point of view this symbol has two meanings. The stream [wadi] of Elijah prefigures that, at the fullness of time, the Messiah will come and will send the sinners to the stream that comes out of the sanctuary, just like the one that Ezekiel saw. That is the stream that gives healing to the sick when its waters are applied. The [second meaning is that] the stream is the baptism of the Messiah.2
- ON ELIJAH AND FASTING 2.2–3. Conti, M., & Pilara, G. (Eds.). (2008). 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (pp. 99–100). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
- ON THE FIRST BOOK OF KINGS 17:2. Conti, M., & Pilara, G. (Eds.). (2008). 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther (p. 100). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.