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Elijah: among the greatest of God’s servants

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The scriptures contain little about the personal history of Elijah the prophet, who lived about 900 years before Christ during the reign of the wicked king Ahab. Yet there is sufficient information to attest to his status as one of the greatest among the servants of God. No outstanding prophecy is attributed to him, but his deeds as recounted in 1 and 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles were spectacular: calling down fire from heaven, sealing the heavens from rain for three years, blessing the widow's meal and oil to preserve it from depletion, raising her son from the dead and his departure from mortality in a chariot of fire.

His greatness and influence are evidenced by traditions that persist today among Jews, who believe that he will return in accordance with the prophecy in Malachi 4:5 and for whom Elijah is an invited guest during Passover observances.

Elijah's greatness is attributable largely to the authority that was conferred upon him. He was given the keys of the priesthood such that whatsoever he should bind on earth would be bound in heaven. Thus the same power by which he could declare the heavens sealed is present today in the authority that binds generations together for eternities through temple ordinances and covenants.

Those sealing keys were conferred upon Peter, James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration (See Matthew 17:3) and were restored in this dispensation through a personal visitation of Elijah to the Prophet Joseph Smith. (See Doctrine and Covenants 110:13-16.)

It was Joseph Smith who taught: "The spirit, power, and calling of Elijah is, that ye have power to hold the key of the revelation, ordinances, oracles, powers and endowments of the fulness of the Melchizedek Priesthood and of the kingdom of God on the earth; and to receive, obtain, and perform all the ordinances belonging to the kingdom of God, even unto the turning of the hearts of the fathers unto the children, and the hearts of the children unto the fathers, even those who are in heaven." (History of the Church 6:251.)