Sabbath, November 22, 2014
“Important lessons are presented to us in the experience of Elijah. When upon Mt. Carmel he offered the prayer for rain, his faith was tested, but he persevered in making known his request unto God…. Had he given up in discouragement at the sixth time, his prayer would not have been answered, but he persevered till the answer came. We have a God whose ear is not closed to our petitions; and if we prove His word, He will honor our faith. He wants us to have all our interests interwoven with His interests, and then He can safely bless us; for we shall not then take glory to self when the blessing is ours, but shall render all the praise to God.” –Sons and Daughters of God, p. 206.
The Lord’s message for the king
1. What had the prophet Elijah declared to the apostate King Ahab when no other means had brought about his and Israel’s repentance and conversion to God?
1 Kings 17:1 And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
“For stricken Israel there was but one remedy–a turning away from the sins that had brought upon them the chastening hand of the Almighty, and a turning to the Lord with full purpose of heart. To them had been given the assurance, ‘If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people; if My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.’ 2 Chronicles 7:13, 14. It was to bring to pass this blessed result that God continued to withhold from them the dew and the rain until a decided reformation should take place.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 128.
The drought becomes critical
2. Without rainfall anywhere in the land for three years, how difficult had it become to find grass for the cattle?
1 Kings 17:7; 18:3, 5 And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land…. 18:3 And Ahab called Obadiah, which was the governor of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly:… 5 And Ahab said unto Obadiah, Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks: peradventure we may find grass to save the horses and mules alive, that we lose not all the beasts.
“Through the long years of drought and famine, Elijah prayed earnestly that the hearts of Israel might be turned from idolatry to allegiance to God. Patiently the prophet waited, while the hand of the Lord rested heavily on the stricken land. As he saw evidences of suffering and want multiplying on every side, his heart was wrung with sorrow, and he longed for power to bring about a reformation quickly. But God Himself was working out His plan, and all that His servant could do was to pray on in faith and await the time for decided action.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 133.
“Israel had had abundant occasion for rejoicing. The land to which the Lord had brought them was a land flowing with milk and honey. During the wilderness wandering, God had assured them that He was guiding them to a country where they need never suffer for lack of rain. ‘The land, whither thou goest in to possess it,’ He had told them,… ‘is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven….’ Deuteronomy 11:11.
“The promise of abundance of rain had been given on condition of obedience.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 135, 136.
Elijah searched for everywhere
3. Where had Elijah been looked for without result? Finally, what commission did Elijah receive from the Lord? What hopeful message was included in the announcement made to Ahab?
1 Kings 18:10, 1 As the Lord thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee: and when they said, He is not there; he took an oath of the kingdom and nation, that they found thee not…. 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.
“The prediction of Elijah was meeting with terrible fulfillment. For three years the messenger of woe was sought for in city after city and nation after nation…. Yet the search was continued, for Jezebel and the prophets of Baal hated Elijah with a deadly hatred, and they spared no effort to bring him within reach of their power. And still there was no rain.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 137.
“In obedience to the command, ‘Elijah went to show himself unto Ahab.’ About the time that the prophet set forth on his journey to Samaria, Ahab had proposed to Obadiah, the governor of his household, that they make thorough search for springs and brooks of water, in the hope of finding pasture for their starving flocks and herds. Even in the royal court the effect of the long-continued drought was keenly felt. The king, deeply concerned over the outlook for his household, decided to unite personally with his servant in a search for some favored spots where pasture might be had.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 137, 138.
Appeal to the apostate people
4. Whom did Elijah first meet, and what was he told to do? How powerful was the message that the prophet gave the king and people assembled on Mount Carmel?
1 Kings 18:15, 16, 19-21 And Elijah said, As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself unto him to day. 16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah…. 19 Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table. 20 So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel. 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.
“In astonishment mingled with terror the king listened to the message from the man whom he feared and hated, and for whom he had sought so untiringly…. Could it be possible that the prophet was about to utter another woe against Israel?… And so, accompanied by a bodyguard of soldiers, the trembling monarch went to meet the prophet.
“The king and the prophet stand face to face…. In his first faltering words, ‘Art thou he that troubleth Israel?’ (1 Kings 18:17) he unconsciously reveals the inmost feelings of his heart. Ahab knew that it was by the word of God that the heavens had become as brass, yet he sought to cast upon the prophet the blame for the heavy judgments resting on the land….
“It is natural for the wrongdoer to hold the messengers of God responsible for the calamities that come as the sure result of a departure from the way of righteousness. Those who place themselves in Satan’s power are unable to see things as God sees them.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 139, 140.
The announcement of imminent rain
5. Trusting completely in God’s message following the vic–tory on Mt. Carmel, what did Elijah tell the king? What earnest prayer did the prophet send to the Lord for rain?
1 Kings 18:41, 42 And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain. 42 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.
“Elijah humbled himself until he was in a condition where he would not take the glory to himself. This is the condition upon which the Lord hears prayer, for then we shall give the praise to Him…. God alone is worthy to be glorified.” –Our High Calling, p. 133.
“It was not because of any outward evidence that the showers were about to fall, that Elijah could so confidently bid Ahab prepare for rain. The prophet saw no clouds in the heavens; he heard no thunder. He simply spoke the word that the Spirit of the Lord had moved him to speak in response to his own strong faith…. Having done all that was in his power to do, he knew that Heaven would freely bestow the blessings foretold. The same God who had sent the drought had promised an abundance of rain as the reward of rightdoing; and now Elijah waited for the promised outpouring. In an attitude of humility, ‘his face between his knees,’ he interceded with God in behalf of penitent Israel.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 155, 156.
Trust in God’s answer
6. Being sure that the Lord’s message would be fulfilled, what did Elijah tell his servant when there was still no sign of rain? What happened then in fulfillment of God’s word?
1 Kings 18:43-45 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. 44 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. 45 And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain.
“Six times the servant returned with the word that there was no sign of rain in the brassy heavens. Undaunted, Elijah sent him forth once more; and this time the servant returned with the word, ‘Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand.’ 1 Kings 18:44.
“This was enough. Elijah did not wait for the heavens to gather blackness. In that small cloud he beheld by faith an abundance of rain; and he acted in harmony with his faith…. As he prayed, his faith reached out and grasped the promises of Heaven, and he persevered in prayer until his petitions were answered. He did not wait for the full evidence that God had heard him, but was willing to venture all on the slightest token of divine favor. And yet what he was enabled to do under God, all may do in their sphere of activity in God’s service….” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 156, 157.
An unforgettable experience
7. How well known is this event? What does it teach concerning faith and prayer?
James 5:17, 18 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
“Faith such as this is needed in the world today–faith that will lay hold on the promises of God’s word and refuse to let go until Heaven hears. Faith such as this connects us closely with Heaven, and brings us strength for coping with the powers of darkness. Through faith God’s children have ‘subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong,…’ Hebrews 11:33, 34. And through faith we today are to reach the heights of God’s purpose for us. ‘If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.’ Mark 9:23.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 157.
- What is essential for victory to be obtained when one faces the most difficult opposition?
- Is it possible for God to help even by using nature when apostasy must be confronted?
- What great promise is made to those who ask according to God’s will and for His honor?
For further study
Education, p. 151; Prophets and Kings, pp. 157, 158.
“The Lord abhors indifference and disloyalty in a time of crisis in His work. The whole universe is watching with inexpressible interest the closing scenes of the great controversy between good and evil. The people of God are nearing the borders of the eternal world; what can be of more importance to them than that they be loyal to the God of heaven? All through the ages, God has had moral heroes, and He has them now–those who, like Joseph and Elijah and Daniel, are not ashamed to acknowledge themselves His peculiar people. His special blessing accompanies the labors of men of action, men who will not be swerved from the straight line of duty, but who with divine energy will inquire, ‘Who is on the Lord’s side?’ (Exodus 32:26), men who will not stop merely with the inquiry, but who will demand that those who choose to identify themselves with the people of God shall step forward and reveal unmistakably their allegiance to the King of kings and Lord of lords. Such men make their wills and plans subordinate to the law of God. For love of Him they count not their lives dear unto themselves. Their work is to catch the light from the Word and let it shine forth to the world in clear, steady rays. Fidelity to God is their motto.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 148.