Let it rain!
Character in a time of Crisis Day 13
41 And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.”
(1 Kings 18:41 NIV)
Rain is not something we go looking for in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. We seem to get more than our fair share of it, and this past few months have been no exception! However in the time of Elijah and especially after three years of drought, the rain was more than welcome, it was needed for life itself. The Western seaboard of modern Israel looks very different from what it would have in Elijah’s day. Nowadays there are flourishing coastal cities like Tel Aviv, Netanya, Caesarea, and Haifa which did not really exist then. Haifa especially is related to the story of Elijah with its location on the slopes of Mount Carmel. We can imagine the prophet sitting down with his servant gazing out to the Mediterranean sea, looking for the coming rain and looking in faith not doubting that God would supply it.
After the contest on Mount Carmel, the people had been the first witnesses to the supernatural intervention of God in raising fire onto the altar of Elijah. They were soon to become witnesses to God supplying water to them. So Elijah said 41 And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” (1 Kings 18:41 NIV)
The Story of Elijah is the story of God’s hand upon a man, who no matter the odds, was to declare the truth of God’s word in a day of lawlessness and to live for righteousness in a time of wickedness. Elijah from his birth was a slap in the face of the spirit that sought to control Israel from king down. Elijah had in the name of the Lord opposed and proved triumphant over the false god Baal. And now much to the consternation of Ahab and the fury of his wife Jezebel, just as Elijah had promised in (1 Kings 17:1 NIV) he was proclaiming the end of the drought in a spectacular way.
“As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”
We mustn’t miss this point that the rain of God followed the fire of God. In this passage we see God answer Elijah’s prayer in two ways, firstly with the fire and then with the rain. It was no coincidence that through the very elements of nature (that the idolatrous god Baal was supposed to control) God answers His servant’s prayer. But we notice the rain followed the fire. The fire fell and consumed the offering, the sacrifice and burned up every trace of anything man-made in that area. What did John the Baptist ( who came in the spirit & power of Elijah) (Luke 1:17) say of the Lord Jesus “ he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with Fire” (Matt 3:11) It seems to show us that the rain of God’s Blessing will follow the fire of God’s Presence.
This was was no ordinary rain, and does not follow the pattern of rainfall in middle East. Though rainfall is rare at times in the Holy Land, there is a pattern to the rainfall. The Bible speaks of the former and latter rains. The former rains are in Autumn with the first soft showers, then the much heavier latter rains in our spring-time that soften the ground to enable ploughing to take place. A different Hebrew word is used to describe this rain though as being a sudden violent downpour. Maybe unexpected, maybe unannounced, but certainly supernatural. Surely this shows us that when God comes, it will not be in ways we expect or can control. He certainly didn’t in Elijah’s day, He didn’t come on the day of Pentecost in tame or domestic ways, but to pour out of His Spirit upon dry and thirsty land. How we must pray that the sound of such reviving showers of His Spirit would be heard and felt once again in our land.