On the twentieth of this month [July], we commemorate the fiery ascent to Heaven of the Holy and Glorious Elijah (Elias) the Tishbite.
He shut off the rain, thrice bringing fire below,
Parting the river, Elias was carried off above.
On the twentieth you were taken up, Elias, by chariot.
The Holy Prophet Elijah was the son of Sobach, and was from Tishbe in the land of Arabia, of the tribe of Aaron, since Tishbe belonged to the Priests. He lived in Gilead. When his mother gave birth to him, his father Sobach beheld a vision, in which he saw men dressed in white calling the child Elijah, which is translated as "God is Yahweh". He saw the child wrapped in fire, and they gave him a flame to eat. Hence he went to Jerusalem, and revealed the vision to the Priests. The Priests said that this was a prophetic and revelatory anointing. They said: "Fear not, O man, for the child dwells in light, and his words are destined for decisions, and his life is destined to be according to the Lord, and his zeal will be pleasing to God, and he will judge Israel with a sword and fire."
He prophesied for twenty-five years, and lived eight-hundred and sixteen years before the coming of Christ. This was the Elijah who brought fire down from heaven three times. By his word he prevented the rain from falling, and it did not rain from the sky for three and a half years. He raised the son of the widow Zarephath. He burned two sets of five hundred men sent to him by King Ahab. On Mount Horeb he saw God, as much as it is possible for a man to see Him. After dividing the Jordan River he was taken up to Heaven in a chariot of fire. And at the Transfiguration he stood next to the transfigured Christ, together with the Prophet Moses. His Synaxis and Feast takes place at his revered Temple, which is at Petrion, as well as at the church called New.*
* It should be noted that the Prophet Elijah, eight or ten years after he was taken to Heaven, sent a letter to King Jehoram of Judah, the son of Jehoshaphat, because he had forsaken the worship of the true God, and foretold that he would die of a sickness because of this, and so it happened (2 Chronicles 21:12-14). Some Church Fathers believe that since Elijah dwelled physically in Heaven, this letter was sent by an Angel, while others believe that Elijah was merely translated to Heaven and placed in another location on earth, from where he sent this letter and later died (though a tradition exists that says he may still be alive waiting for the Second Coming).
Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Incarnate Angel and summit of the Prophets, second forerunner of the coming of Christ, glorious Elias sent down grace from on high to the Prophet Elisha. He heals diseases and cleanses the leprous. He pours healings on all who honor him.
Kontakion in the Second Tone
Ο Prophet and seer of the great deeds of God, renowned Elias, who stayed the rain clouds by your word, intercede on our behalf with the Lord who alone loves mankind.
Oikos in the Second Tone
Seeing humanity’s great iniquity and God’s measureless love for humanity, Elias the Prophet was angry and troubled and spoke uncompassionate words to the compassionate God. “Vent Your wrath,” cried he, “on them who renounced You, Ο Judge most just.” But in no way did he move the heart of the Good One to punish the ones who renounced Him. For He ever awaits the repentance of all, as the Lord who alone loves mankind.