Elijah ministered in dark times. Ahab was king: he did more evil than all the kings before him. His wife, Jezebel, was killing God's prophets. All Israel was worshipping Baal. It was at this darkest hour that God raised up Elijah. On Mount Carmel Elijah proved once-for-all that the Lord is God, not Baal. But it didn't work. Israel kept worshipping Baal. In Israel we see ourselves. It's not just our culture: our hearts keep chasing idols! The enduring ministry of Elijah is to remind us that we have an idol problem we can't fix on our own. We must seek help. One greater than Elijah would have to come to rescue God's people from idolatry. Elijah is simply Christ's torchbearer. It is how he "makes ready a people prepared for the Lord."
In our mission to spread the gospel, it is easy to lose hope. We see the obstacles (in ourselves, in our culture), but they should not blind us to the fact that Christ has come. Help is here.