“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again and the heaven gave rain and the earth produced its fruit.” James 5:16b-18
Elijah was the most famous and dramatic of Israel’s prophets. It is only fitting that God would use him during Ahab’s rule. Ahab is known as the most evil king of Israel. Ahab, along with his famous wife Jezebel, established the worship of a false god called Baal. The god Baal was worshipped because they believed that Baal was the god of the dew and the rain.
Elijah Proclaims a Drought
In order to turn God’s people back to the One and Only God, who is the Creator of the Universe, the rain, the wind and the thunder, Elijah was sent by God to Ahab. Elijah walks onto the scene unafraid, unannounced and uninvited and says this to Ahab, the King of Israel, “As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years except at my word.” 1 Kings 17:1
God’s unfailing love for His people is proven as He uses Elijah to get his people’s attention. At that time, their eyes and hearts were on the false god Baal. Elijah challenged the worshipers of Baal to a contest. Elijah said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” Elijah said, “Call on the name of your gods and I will call on the name of the LORD; and the God who answers by fire, He is God. So all the people answered and said, “What you say is good.” 1 Kings 18:24
The Baal worshippers called out to their god to answer by fire from the early morning to the late evening but there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention. The Baal worshippers were so desperate in wanting their false god to answer them that they even danced around the altar and shouted loudly and slashed themselves with swords and spears, until their own blood flowed. But there was no response, no one answered or paid attention.
Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” Before Elijah called out to God to answer by fire, he instructed for this to be done, “Fill four waterpots with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice and on the wood.” Elijah asked for the waterpots to be filled and poured out on the altar three times until the water ran all around the altar. Elijah even made sure that the trench was filled with water! 1 Kings 18:30, 33,35
Now it was time for Elijah to prove who is the only God who hears! Elijah said, “LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.” 1 Kings 18;36-37
“Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces, and they said, “The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!’”1 Kings 18:38-39
The Bible says that Elijah seized all the prophets of Baal and did away with them at the Brook Kishon.
The Drought Ends
What happens next is one of the main reasons I wrote this blog – to encourage you to never stop praying! Elijah was so confident of God’s promise (1 Kings 18:1) that he immediately tells Ahab before he sees one drop of rain, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.”
Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, and said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.”1 Kings 18:42
Elijah was bowing down, praying to God asking the LORD to end the drought after 3 years and six months. He was asking his servant to go up and look towards the sea for a sign that rain is coming. But his servant came back and did not see a cloud in the sky! His servant said, “There is nothing” (1 Kings 18:43b). However, Elijah doesn’t give up! Instead Elijah sends his servant back to check the sky seven times! Don’t miss Elijah’s tenacity! The Bible says that on the seventh time his servant went looking towards the sea, he came back saying this to Elijah, “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!” That is all the confirmation that Elijah needed to hear! Elijah immediately said this, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you’.”
I love His faith! Elijah did not give up in praying to God – even when there was not a cloud in the sky!
May I encourage you today?
What have you been praying for?
Have you been discouraged because your prayers seem to go unheard and unanswered?
Have you been waiting a long time for God to fulfill His promise to you?
Continue praying! Remember Elijah’s faith – he told his servant to go check the sky seven times before there was a sign from God in the sky! Elijah was acting based upon God’s word spoken to him in 1 Kings 18:1 when the LORD came to Elijah and said this, “Go, present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the earth.”
I love that all it took was a cloud in the sky as small as a man’s fist, for Elijah to confirm that a great, abundant rain was coming to shower the earth!
“Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain.” 1 Kings 18:45
I pray that we will not give up praying for what is righteous and good in God’s sight.
If we are experiencing any form of “drought” – whether it is in our relationships, our finances, or in our spiritual growth, I pray that even though we don’t see the small cloud in the distance, we will continue to pray!
I also pray that when we do see the small cloud in the distance, we will have the same confidence and boldness and faith as Elijah did to know that the rain is coming!
Blessings to you in the New Year! May we continue to say what the people said, “The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!”