God Who Stopped The Rain Will Start it Again
The stage has now been set for the great challenge to begin. Baal was “the storm god.” As such he could send lightning bolts for fire and storms for rain. It should have been an easy task for 450 Baal prophets to beseech him for rain. But there was more at stake than rain. There were no altars remaining in Israel dedicated to Jehovah. Sacrifice to the True God had come to an end. Elijah would bring much more than rain. His obedience would bring revival.
21 And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.”
– 1 Kings 18:21New King James Version (NKJV)
Notice the actions of the 450 prophets of Baal. They cried louder and louder to their god who did not hear; they leaped upon the altar; they cried some more; they cut themselves after their custom with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them v.28. They did this from morning until afternoon but their chief god, the great fire god, Baal, did not hear them.
And now it was time for the evening offering – the most important offering. This was the time when centuries later Jesus would die on the cross. Elijah said to the people: “Come near to me.” Elijah would proceed to do everything according to God’s commands.
He would begin by reminding God and the people that they were in covenant together:
10 So he said, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword.
– 1 Kings 19:10 New King James Version (NKJV)
The twelve stones, the building of the altar, the kind of water that was used in the trench – all these represented aspects of the covenant. Further information on the covenant can be found at:
In all of Elijah’s actions the people recognized that he was following the almost-forgotten Levitical laws for the sin offerings for the priest and for the nation (Leviticus 4:1-21). He was bringing them back to God and His ways.
To induce their god to answer, the Baal priests worked themselves into a religious frenzy. Elijah, on the other hand, prayed a short and simple prayer. He prayed in faith while resting in God’s grace and covenant promises.
36 And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and 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.
– 1 Kings 18:36 New King James Version (NKJV)
The difference between the frenzy of the prayers of the prophets of Baal and the mighty, God-given prayer of Elijah is breathtaking.
[Elijah’s] public prayer occupies only two verses and 63 words in the English Bible, and even fewer in the Hebrew… in these verses we see the power of God manifested from Heaven…we see men and women turning back to the Lord. Elijah reminds them that they belong to a Covenant God. In Genesis 15 God confirmed His Covenant with Abraham by coming down in fire to consume the evening sacrifice. He was a pillar of fire by night to the nation of Israel on their long trek across the desert from Egypt to The Promised Land. He has not deserted them; He has been waiting for them. Here we see revival, restoration, and repentance. God had needed a humble, obedient “prophet of power” to rightly state: “I am Your servant…I have done all these things at Your Word.”
One Simple Prayer: The Fire Fell and Now The Rain Will Come
The time for the conclusion of Elijah’s mission was at hand. Elijah had fulfilled all the steps leading to this point. It was time to entreat God to send the rain.
Everything he had done; every step he had taken; every move he had made; every word he had spoken had been ordered and directed by God. He was a man under command. He was a soul submissive to the sovereign Spirit of God, a person promptly obedient to the will and wish of the Most High. No wonder he was a prophet of such power. (Keller, p.90)
It was time for the deception to end. In blindness the people had followed a false god. It was time for that false god’s prophets to be silenced. Before rain could come the people had to make a clear choice to “come ye out and be ye separate and touch not the unclean thing” (2 Corinthians 6:17) for there can be “no harmony between Christ and Belial” (2 Corinthians 6:15). The people took the 450 prophets to the Kishon Valley and disposed of them.
Yet one thing remained for Elijah – to pray for rain:
16 … The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 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. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
– James 5:16-18 New King James Version (NKJV)
Six times Elijah sent his servant to scan the western sky for signs of rain. There was none. Yet Elijah did not trust in what his eyes saw; he trusted in God, only God. God Who never fails. God Who stopped the rain and now, three and a half years later, will start it again. God, Who got all the glory for it when it came.
45 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 New King James Version (NKJV)
Not just a rain, but a heavy, mighty rain came, with powerful winds and thunder and lightning. It might, to our way of thinking, not be the wisest rain to send. After all, the earth was so dry and parched it was baked over. It could not absorb the water; so, instead, the water ran off and began to flood the land. Yet it was the water God had sent. God had His reasons and Elijah, in humble obedience, accepted those reasons.
It wasn’t ending the “physical” drought that was of such importance. It was ending the spiritual drought that mattered. There could be no refreshing and blessings from Almighty God unless His people had first been broken and had repented. There could be no fresh beginnings unless the old, idolatrous ways had been done away with. God could only bless His people if they were once again exclusively His. That’s why the sacrifice on Mt. Carmel had to come first before the drought could be attended to. There were bigger things at stake. He is a holy God and He will not share His glory – nor His people – with another.
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I would like to thank my fellow consultants for all their assistance in getting this blog published: Michelle Arrington, Hannah Hall, Ariel Mcgarry, Carol White, Tracy Yoder, and J.P.Wilhelm. Their encouragement and patience have been invaluable to me.
Keller, Phillip. Elijah Prophet of Power. Thomas Nelson, 1987.