Elijah, and the rain
Elijah came in like a whirlwind, and went out with a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11).
Because he honored God and His word, Israel was given new hope.
It begins with Elijah praying for the rain to stop. (James 5:17) But why?
When Ahab the king of Israel married a idol worshipper, Jezebel, she began to run the government. She outlawed all other worship beside her idol of Baal.
She intimidated and slew any who opposed her.
Yet God always has His remnant.
He was torn apart by his country following this horrid idol, and not following the Lord God.
So, claiming a verse God had promised (Deuteronomy 11:14-17), he began to pray that God would withhold the rain, to wake up the people that they should return to the Lord.
Rain was essential for any crops. The former and latter rains were needed.
Six months passed. God had honored his prayer, and there had been no rain.
He was told to go to the king, and….
1 Kings 17:1 “And Elijah the Tishbite, who was the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, as the Lord God of Israel liveth, before Whom I stand, there shall not be dew or rain these years, but according to my word.”
“but according to my word”. Elijah was standing before God in prayer, therefore he was empowered to stand before the king.
He does not say “according to God’s Word”, for that would mean nothing to Ahab, or Jezebel. And Elijah’s word was God’s word.
All their attention would be focused on Elijah, and his prayers to God.
Would God answer them?
God did. For three more years there would be drought and famine, because Israel had forsaken God.
It was a very bad time. But God had said what He was going to do.
But the Lord always leads us through measured trials, so…..
And in the third year, the Lord said, it was enough: He would send rain.
1 Kings 18:1 “And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year saying, Go, show thyself unto Ahab, and I will send rain upon the earth.”
But before the rain is sent; Elijah calls for all Israel to be gathered together to Mount Carmel.
There Elijah wanted to talk to Israel, remind that they were to be God’s people. Show them God’s Power, and show the falseness of their idol.
1 Kings 18:21 “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.”
A test was chosen: the priests of Baal, the idol, would choose a sacrifice, and make an altar; But put no fire under the sacrifice.
Their idol would have to send down fire and burn it up.
Elijah would do the same, and God would send down fire and burn up his sacrifice.
1 Kings 18:23-24 “Let them therefore give us two bullocks, and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under.
And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the Lord, and the God that answers by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.”
Well, all morning and all afternoon, the priests of Baal jumped and hollered, and cried, and moaned for fire to come down. They cut themselves and begged.
But nothing happened.
Then Elijah built an altar:
1 Kings 18:32-33 “And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord: and he made a trench about the altar,…
And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.”
Elijah was making it extra hard: putting water on everything. Because he knew God’s power, and faithfulness.
And then Elijah prayed: “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and of Israel, let it be known this day that Thou art God in Israel, and that I am Thy servant, and that I have done all these things at Thy word.
Here me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that Thou art the Lord God, and that Thou hast turned their heart back again.”
Then fire fell.
1 Kings 18:38-39 “Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, He is the God; The Lord, He is the God.”
And when Elijah prayed again, the Lord sent the rain.
1 Kings 18:45 “And it came to pass in the meanwhile, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain….”
Prayer is the means here. The sacrifice was offered to the Lord, for there had been no sacrifice to God for three years (the sacrifices in the Old Testament always looked forward to Christ), and prayed that God would bless it.
The rain was prayed for.
God was awakening His people that He is a God that answers prayer. And that He was calling them to return to Him.
James said, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16)
Elijah was shown a way by prayer to help his people, and he did. By prayer he showed Israel a way back to God.
We, too, should help God’s people by our prayers.