Have you seen that little cloud? Thursday – 10th week in ordinary time 1 Kings 18:41-46
Elijah had just won a victory against Bal and his priests. He deliberately put himself in a disadvantage in this contest, simply to make a point to Ahab and his false priests, that YHWH and no other was the true God. Now that the contest was over and the people of Israel fell on their faces and worshiped YAHWEH Elijah seized the moment to end once and for all the worship of Baal. Elijah kills the prophets of Baal in the wadi Kishon.
Elijah could have said many things to Ahab after the victory on Mt. Carmel. He could have condemned him for the idolatry. He could have done a little dance and said, “Told you so! Told you so!” But there is no record of such activity. Instead gives Ahab a rather curious command while he makes a bold prophecy.
It was the worship of Baal that led to the three year drought. Now that the worship of Baal was defeated the purpose for the drought was fulfilled; it was time for rain. Elijah tells Ahab to go and get something to eat and drink for Elijah says he can hear a mighty rainstorm coming! There are many ways to look at this curious command. Was Ahab hungry from the events of a rather long day? Did he not eat because he was anxious to see who would win the day? But that’s not the only thing that Elijah says for he follows it with what could only be a bold declaration of faith, “ there is a sound of rushing rain”; this when all that covered the earth were powder puff blue skies and there hadn’t been a drop of rain in over three years. It seems like Elijah was going out on a limb. Well, that’s confidence!
Most of us reasonably wait for God’s promises to kick in. We hold that in his time he makes all things beautiful. I guess if we stood in Elijah’s place we would have told Ahab to expect a little sprinkle today or tomorrow and then maybe there’ll be some dew on the ground. Yet, in that one statement Elijah models for us a deep faith in God’s promises.
While Ahab hit the buffet line, Elijah hit his knees. It is true he has made a declaration of faith in God’s promise but he also recognises that God rejoices in receiving our ‘knee-mail’. Elijah ‘bowed himself down upon the earth and put his face between his knees.” This was an unusual posture of prayer for Elijah. He wasn’t kneeling, he wasn’t sitting, he wasn’t standing, and he didn’t lay prostrate before the LORD. This shows that the power in prayer resides in faith in the living God.
Elijah was able to tell Ahab that a mighty rainstorm was coming because he prayed expectantly. He believed God was going to come through. But more than he believed God would come through, he believed God would do what he said he would do. Elijah’s prayer was based on the promise of God not just the potential of what God could do. Elijah’s prayer was based on who God is, not just what God is able to do. The potential of what God can do is unlimited. It’s the promise of God though, that helps us to pray expectantly. Believing God for what he said he could and would do.
Elijah asks his servant to look towards the sea and while the servant had nothing to report he was asked to go seven times again. This was stubbornly persistent prayer. It was as if Elijah would not take “no” for an answer, because he had confidence that God’s will was to send rain. Let us not be dejected when we are disappointed, but continue to wait upon God, who will answer us. Elijah persisted in his prayer asking in faith for God to send the rain. Elijah obviously sensed this was the will of God, yet it was his fervent prayer that brought the rain. The evidence of the rain came slowly and in a small way, but out of this small evidence God brought a mighty work.