We’ve taken a small break from out study of Elijah the Prophet, but it is time to recommence. Since we have taken a hiatus of sorts, we should probably recap where we have been.
1 Kings 18:41-46
And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees, And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said, There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel. And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; and he girded up his loins, and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel
We started our study with Elijah handing a prophecy to King Ahab that, due to the sin and idolatry of both him and the nation, that God would withhold rain from the land or Israel as judgment upon them.
Elijah then spent three years basically keeping out of sight while the drought unfolded in the land, first living alone at the brook Kidron, then living in the home of a widow woman and her son. We learned that not only was God giving time for the drought to unfold in the land so that the people would understand the judgment they were under, but that God was shaping and molding Elijah for a great, great mission.
That mission, of course was the great confrontation on mount Carmel between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Of course we know there was really no showdown or contest in reality, as we know it was all merely an opportunity for God to showcase His awesome power and bring the people to repentance and forgiveness.
That is where we stand in our story. The “contest” on mount Carmel is over. God has shown to all the assembled just who is God and who is not; the prophets of Baal are all dead. At this point it is only Elijah, the people of Israel(who have immediately begun obeying God, as we see by the execution of the prophets of Baal at Elijah’s command), and King Ahab. What’s next?
It almost seems anti climactic at this point in some ways. Elijah seemingly said to Ahab; “Hey go get something to eat.”; however, Elijah did add some interesting words here: for there is a sound of abundance of rain. Basically, Elijah was telling the King to go celebrate the coming of the rain. Did Elijah actually hear rain here? Did Elijah have really good ears? Given what happened next, it doesn’t seem likely Elijah actually heard or saw anything to physically indicate rain was coming. What did Elijah hear?
Elijah has just spent three years relying on the promises and provision of God. He was fed by a raven, watched food refill itself for two years, and watched a young boy come back from the dead; Elijah had come to recognize the sound of God’s promises. While Elijah may not have physically heard or seen the signs of rain, he did know God had promised the rain would come. In 1 Kings 18:1 we see that: And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth. Elijah heard and heeded the promise of God to bring the rain.
Note what the great prophet did now. The great man who had only moments before been standing with strength and confidence now prostrated himself in supplication and prayer to his God. Elijah didn’t just pray once, as we see. He sent his servant to scan the horizon seven times looking for signs on impending rain. On the seventh persistent prayer, Elijah’s servant reported rain on the horizon.
The interaction between Elijah and King Ahab is very interesting. Why wasn’t the most evil King in Israel’s history slain along with his idolatrous prophets? Well, I certainly don’t know. But it apparently was in God’s sovereign plan, and Elijah knew it. He sent the servant to Ahab to tell him the rains were coming, and to head quickly back to his home in Jezreel before the deluge stopped him. Filled with the strength of the Holy Spirit, Elijah ran before the King’s chariot the entire distance back. This certainly showed Elijah’s loyalty to the man ordained by God to be the leader of the country, as the custom was for runners to precede the chariots of kings. It again also showed the empowering of Elijah for this mission as this was likely in the range of 15-25 miles back to the palace.
The story of Elijah, Ahab, and Jezebel is not over yet; there is still an important episode left to record in relation to this story, and we will head there next time. The lessons we can learn from Elijah continue to show themselves to us.
We see by Elijah’s prayer that he was bold before men, yet humble before God,, just as believers today should be.
We see that Elijah was persistent in his prayer. Seven times he prayed for God to deliver what He had promised that he would.
Elijah’s loyalty to King Ahab show the prophet’s continued willingness to act in accordance with God’s plan and be loyal the the man God had place in leadership, even when he certainly had personal feelings that would have prompted him otherwise.
Next up: Elijah suffers a setback.