Meanwhile, the sky grew dark with clouds and wind, and a heavy rain began to fall. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel.
There is no sense in always telegraphing to heaven for God to send a cargo of blessing, unless we are at the wharf to unload the vessel when it comes.
The wonders which accompanied the ministry of Elijah were not meaningless prodigies. Those who question the wisdom of miracles should remember that the condition of those for whom they were intended rendered them necessary. Sensuous men must learn through their senses, and worshippers of material force must be met by physical displays of power. We do not try to instruct a child by an essay, or to convince a savage by a syllogism. God could speak directly to the devout patriarchs; but when the worshippers of Baal were to know that there was a living God, they saw the fire from heaven, and heard the bursting of a storm after years of drought. Idolatry had just been swept away by a whirlwind of popular execration. The time had therefore come for the curse to be removed. Elijah with a premonition of the distant rain bade king and people eat of the sacrificial feast, while he went up the mountain to pray. Six times his servant ascended the loftiest peak of Carmel, and came back to say that there was no sign of change; but the seventh time, gazing over the blue expanse of the Mediterranean, he saw a cloud tiny as a man's hand, which was the pledge of answered prayer, for soon the heavens were "black with clouds," and over the thirsty land there was "a great rain." In dealing with events of Old Testament history, we must guard ourselves against giving a fanciful interpretation which cannot be reasonably justified; but we must not forget, on the other hand, that such incidents reveal great principles which run through the whole economy of God, in the moral as well as in the physical world.
I. THE SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BLESSING SOUGHT. The New Testament justifies us in regarding the rain which Elijah prayed for as a type of the Holy Spirit, without whom our hearts are barren, and the moral world is dead. See, for instance, how boldly the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews evolves from the tabernacle what those who constructed it little imagined. Take as another example the allusion which Paul makes to the rock in the wilderness, in which he says emphatically, "That rock was Christ." Recall passages in which the descent of the Spirit is likened to the failing of rain and the distilling of dew. Points of analogy: the grounds on which the heavenly blessing is withheld; the misery that follows its absence; the preparation and prayer for its coming; the subsequent fertility of the barren land, etc. The sins of our age are not unlike those of Elijah's time, though they are less gross in form. The enervating luxuries of civilization, the indifference of many to the decline of religion, the deification of force and of lust, are examples. There has been a forsaking of the Lord on the part of His people, and hence this barrenness of good, in spite of all our toil; because there is a withholding of the gracious influences of the Divine Spirit. May He "come down as rain upon the mown grass, and as showers that water the earth."
II. THE SPIRITUAL PREPARATION FOR THE BLESSING PROMISED.
1. Self forgetfulness. Elijah was personally provided for, and would lack nothing. His heart bled, however, for the suffering people. For them he prayed. We want more of such soul burdening on the part of parents and pastors.
2. Reformation. By the execution of the false prophets, Elijah had done all that in him lay to put away evil. Sins are obstacles in the way of descending blessings. We cannot win the Holy Spirit by good conduct, but we may hinder His work by our sin. Sin is a bar across the sluice gates of benediction, and must be removed or broken before the dry channel can be flooded.
3. Prayer. It is in the Epistle of James that we are told that Elijah's prayers brought both the drought and the rainfall. The fact that the prophet heard the sound of abundance of rain stimulated his supplication, and did not prevent it. He did not argue that God would send the storm whether he prayed or not, but believed that the reception of blessing was inseparably connected with the offering of prayer. Similarly the Holy Spirit was promised to the disciples, but they met to pray till He came. "Ask, and you shall receive."
4. Watchfulness. Elijah was so sure of God's fidelity and goodness that he sent his servant seven times to look for the faintest sign of rain. We need watchfulness for the following reasons:
(1) The answer to prayer does not always come when and how we expect it. E.g., we ask for holiness, and God sends an illness, in which our murmuring closes our heart against the very blessing that is then nearing us. Or we pray for spirituality, and have the possibility of it presented to us in some unexpected joy, which too often makes us more worldly than grateful. Or we entreat God for the salvation of our child; and because we do not watch, we fail to recognize the sign and pledge of the Holy Spirit's work in the child's eager questioning and simple prayer.
(2) The answer to prayer may be long delayed. Elijah was not discouraged even by the sixth repetition of the despairing phrase, "There is nothing." Yet on that very day his one earnest cry had instantaneously brought down fire from heaven. How often like the Psalmist we say," Hath God forgotten to be gracious? .... Wait on the Lord, wait patiently for him."
(3) The answer to prayer may begin in what seems trifling. A cloud the size of a man's hand, hardly describable on the horizon, was enough to transfer Elijah's prayer into praise. Little in itself, it was the beginning of a glorious blessing. The baptism of the Holy Spirit will not suddenly fill the world with worshippers; but it will be seen, perhaps, in the turning to God of one lad, who shall prove the Elijah of his age; or in the new light given to one who has long been under the shadow of doubt; or in some holy resolve, some noble thought that shall presage blessing to the world. Slight and insignificant as it may seem, gratefully welcome it, and still hope, and wait, and pray, till He "come and rain righteousness upon us." - A.R.
And said to his servant, Go up now, look toward the sea. I.
THAT TO AIM UPWARDS IN OUR THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS IS THE BEST WAY TO OBTAIN RELIEF IN TIMES OF DANGER OR DIFFICULTY. Elijah went up to the topmost position of Mount Carmel, and he bade his servant go up still higher, to the very peak of the mountain, so as the better to observe the appearances of the sky far and wide. Are we in search of some good? Then let us raise our affections above the unsatisfying, the perishing, the earthly, to the beatific, the eternal, the heavenly; let us scale the heights of our celestial Carmel, and seek for the rain-cloud of promise, by the waters of which a well of water shall be made to spring up in our hearts unto eternal life.
II. THAT WE SHOULD NOT PROCRASTINATE IN SPIRITUAL MATTERS. "Go up now," Elijah says to his servant, "Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation." "What thou doest, do quickly." Indolence cannot win heavenly riches any more than worldly. "Procrastination is the thief of time." The sluggard loses all his to-days in thinking of his to-morrows. To-morrow, in fact, is the watchword of the lazy and the idle.
III. THAT THE TRUE SPIRITUAL LIFE CONSISTS OF TWO PARTS, THE ACTIVE AND THE CONTEMPLATIVE. Elijah went up, after his strenuous exertion in his contests with the priests of Baal, to the top of the mountain, and there rested upon the ground with his face between his knees, that is, in prayer or Divine meditation. The servant, too, was to "go up." That necessitated active exertion, and then to "look" over the face of the heaven. That showed the desirability of contemplation.
IV. THAT WE MUST NEVER DESPAIR. The servant of Elijah had to go up seven times ere he saw any sign of the coming of the wished-for rain. Let us not then be "weary in well-doing," let us not give way to disappointment if we succeed not at once in our efforts after higher things. To few persons in this life does success come immediately or at one trial. The spider — that, by its frequent efforts to cast its web between two distant points, taught perseverance to the royal Bruce — might also speak to us the lesson to persevere unto the end, to continue in well-doing, to show forth in heavenly things patience and perseverance.
V. THAT IN SMALL THINGS, AS WELL AS IN GREAT WE SHOULD LEARN TO TRACE GOD'S HAND. This little cloud, even at last, was no bigger than a man's hand; yet it was a messenger sent to fulfil God's decree. Many persons are willing enough to recognise God's agency in great events, in national revolutions, popular outbreaks, natural disturbances; but are not inclined to see the power of God in lesser matters, in individual trials, in the every-day phenomena of life.
VI. THAT WE SHOULD REGARD TEMPORAL MATTERS IN THE LIGHT OF ETERNITY. This servant of Elijah was to look towards the sea. The sea has ever been taken as an emblem of eternity. It was a fitter emblem of eternity in the ancient world than it is in the modern, because the ancients knew little of its depth or its extent, whereas we have mapped out in a great degree both the one and the other.
A beautiful little book, Expectation Corners
, tells of a king who prepared a city for some of his poor subjects. Not far from them were large storehouses, where everything they could need was supplied if they but sent in their requests. But on one condition — they should be on the outlook for the answer, so that when the king's messengers came with the answer to their petitions, they should always be found waiting and ready to receive them. The sad story is told of one desponding one who never expected to get what he asked, because he was too unworthy. One day he was taken to the king's storehouses, and there, to his amazement, he saw, with his address on them, all the packages that had been made up for him, and sent. There was the garment of praise, and the oil of joy, and the eye-salve, and so much more; they had been to his door, but found it closed; he was not on the outlook. From that time on he learnt the lesson Micah would teach us: "I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me."
()The Electric Light Company of one of London's districts has a weather watcher who sits all day on the roof in a small glass house. It is his business to keep his eyes open to every sign of change, especially the gathering of clouds causing darkness, as in that case a sudden demand is made for electric lighting all over the district, and this requires a greatly intensified power in the huge generators below. As soon as he sees a great dark cloud travelling Londonwards, he telephones to the engine-room below that additional power will soon be needed, and by the time required it has been generated. Would that God's people everywhere were watchmen who, when they saw the clouds gathering over the church and the world, would turn that into a plea for power — power from God.
PeopleAhab, Elijah, Isaac, Jacob, Jezebel, Jezreel, Obadiah
PlacesJezreel, Kishon River, Mount Carmel, Samaria, Zarephath
TopicsAhab, Black, Carriage, Chariot, Clouds, Got, Grew, Heaven, Heavens, Heavy, Jezreel, Jizreel, Mean, Meantime, Pass, Pour, Rain, Rideth, Rode, Rose, Shower, Sky, Thick, Wind
Outline1. In the extremity of famine Elijah, sent to Ahab, meets good Obadiah
9. Obadiah brings Ahab to Elijah
17. Elijah, reproving Ahab, by fire from heaven convinces Baal's prophets
41. Elijah, by prayer obtaining rain, follows Ahab to Jezreel
Dictionary of Bible Themes1 Kings 18:45
1 Kings 18:36-46
4816 drought, physical
1 Kings 18:41-46
1 Kings 18:44-45
To the Young '... I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth.--1 KINGS xviii.12. This Obadiah is one of the obscurer figures in the Old Testament. We never hear of him again, for there is no reason to accept the Jewish tradition which alleges that he was Obadiah the prophet. And yet how distinctly he stands out from the canvas, though he is only sketched with a few bold outlines! He is the 'governor over Ahab's house,' a kind of mayor of the palace, and probably the second man in the kingdom. But …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
The Trial by Fire
'And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose yon one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under. 26. And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made. 27. And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
Elijah's Appeal to the Undecided
Now, we have these three classes here this morning. We have, I hope, a very large number who are on Jehovah's side, who fear God and serve him; we have a number who are on the side of the evil one, who make no profession of religion, and do not observe even the outward symptoms of it; because they are both inwardly and outwardly the servants of the evil one. But the great mass of my hearers belong to the third class--the waverers. Like empty clouds they are driven hither and thither by the wind; …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 3: 1857
Obadiah; Or, Early Piety Eminent Piety
The Lord does not love that his servants, however great they are, should think lightly of their lesser comrades, and it occurs to me that he so arranged matters that Obadiah became important to Elijah when he had to face the wrathful king of Israel. The prophet is bidden to go and show himself to Ahab, and he does so; but he judges it better to begin by showing himself to the governor of his palace, that he may break the news to his master, and prepare him for the interview. Ahab was exasperated …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 30: 1884
The Prophet Hosea.
GENERAL PRELIMINARY REMARKS. That the kingdom of Israel was the object of the prophet's ministry is so evident, that upon this point all are, and cannot but be, agreed. But there is a difference of opinion as to whether the prophet was a fellow-countryman of those to whom he preached, or was called by God out of the kingdom of Judah. The latter has been asserted with great confidence by Maurer, among others, in his Observ. in Hos., in the Commentat. Theol. ii. i. p. 293. But the arguments …
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament
But Some one Will Say, Does He not Know Without a Monitor Both what Our...
But some one will say, Does he not know without a monitor both what our difficulties are, and what is meet for our interest, so that it seems in some measure superfluous to solicit him by our prayers, as if he were winking, or even sleeping, until aroused by the sound of our voice?  Those who argue thus attend not to the end for which the Lord taught us to pray. It was not so much for his sake as for ours. He wills indeed, as is just, that due honour be paid him by acknowledging that all which …
John Calvin—Of Prayer--A Perpetual Exercise of Faith
Selfishness and Prayer. A Contrast.
"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."--1 KINGS xviii. 42. WHAT A CONTRAST! And yet, both men were perfectly consistent. It is in each case what you would expect, and yet how differently it might have been. What a different story it would have been if only Ahab had listened to the teaching of God! How often we see men having chances of turning round and beginning a new …
Thomas Champness—Broken Bread
The West Coast of Galilee-Carmel.
The people of Issachar had "Carmel and the river for their bounds in length": the people of Zabulon, "Carmel and the sea." Carmel was not so much one mountain as a mountainous country, containing almost the whole breadth of the land of Issachar, and a great part of that of Zabulon. It was, as it seems, a certain famous peak among many other mountain tops, known by the same name, lifted up and advanced above the rest. The promontory Carmel, in Pliny, and in the mountain a town of the same name, heretofore …
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica
Ninth Sunday after Trinity. How Long Halt Ye Between Two Opinions? if the Lord be God, Follow Him; but if Baal, Then Follow Him.
How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him. Was kinket ihr betrognen Seelen Lehr. 1733. trans. by Catherine Winkworth, 1855 Why halt thus, O deluded heart, Why waver longer in thy choice? Is it so hard to choose the part Offered by Heaven's entreating voice? Oh look with clearer eyes again, Nor strive to enter in, in vain. Press on! Remember, 'tis not Caesar's throne, Nor earthly honour, wealth or might Whereby God's favour shall be …
Catherine Winkworth—Lyra Germanica: The Christian Year
Fall of the Western Empire (Ad 451-476)
The empire of the West was now fast sinking. One weak prince was at the head of it after another, and the spirit of the old Romans, who had conquered the world, had quite died out. Immense hosts of barbarous nations poured in from the North. The Goths, under Alaric, who took Rome by siege, in the reign of Honorius, have been already mentioned (p 93). Forty years later, Attila, king of the Huns, who was called "The scourge of God," kept both the East and the West in terror. In the year 451, he advanced …
J. C. Roberston—Sketches of Church History, from AD 33 to the Reformation
Will the Knowledge that Some of Our Own are Lost, Mar Our Happiness in Heaven?
This is a difficult question to answer satisfactorily, on account of our instinctive feelings of natural affection, which arise, and, like a mist, obscure our judgment. Nevertheless, the difficulty is much lessened, and even entirely removed from some minds, at hast, by the following considerations. 1. Our happiness, even in this world, does not depend on the happiness of those who are bound to us by the ties of kindred or of friendship. This is especially the case when their unhappiness proceeds …
F. J. Boudreaux—The Happiness of Heaven
Of Prayer --A Perpetual Exercise of Faith. The Daily Benefits Derived from It.
1. A general summary of what is contained in the previous part of the work. A transition to the doctrine of prayer. Its connection with the subject of faith. 2. Prayer defined. Its necessity and use. 3. Objection, that prayer seems useless, because God already knows our wants. Answer, from the institution and end of prayer. Confirmation by example. Its necessity and propriety. Perpetually reminds us of our duty, and leads to meditation on divine providence. Conclusion. Prayer a most useful exercise. …
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion
This was Antony's First Struggle against the Devil...
7. This was Antony's first struggle against the devil, or rather this victory was the Saviour's work in Antony  , Who condemned sin in the flesh that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.' But neither did Antony, although the evil one had fallen, henceforth relax his care and despise him; nor did the enemy as though conquered cease to lay snares for him. For again he went round as a lion seeking some occasion against him. But Antony …
Athanasius—Select Works and Letters or Athanasius
Upon Our Lord's SermonOn the Mount
Discourse 7 "Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: And thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly." Matthew 6:16-18. 1. It has been the endeavour of Satan, from the beginning of the world, …
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions
Subterraneous Places. Mines. Caves.
Thus having taken some notice of the superficies of the land, let us a little search into its bowels. You may divide the subterraneous country into three parts: the metal mines, the caves, and the places of burial. This land was eminently noted for metal mines, so that "its stones," in very many places, "were iron, and out of its hills was digged brass," Deuteronomy 8:9. From these gain accrued to the Jews: but to the Christians, not seldom slavery and misery; being frequently condemned hither by …
John Lightfoot—From the Talmud and Hebraica
The First Commandment
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.' Exod 20: 3. Why is the commandment in the second person singular, Thou? Why does not God say, You shall have no other gods? Because the commandment concerns every one, and God would have each one take it as spoken to him by name. Though we are forward to take privileges to ourselves, yet we are apt to shift off duties from ourselves to others; therefore the commandment is in the second person, Thou and Thou, that every one may know that it is spoken to him, …
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments
But I give myself unto prayer.' Psa 109: 4. I shall not here expatiate upon prayer, as it will be considered more fully in the Lord's prayer. It is one thing to pray, and another thing to be given to prayer: he who prays frequently, is said to be given to prayer; as he who often distributes alms, is said to be given to charity. Prayer is a glorious ordinance, it is the soul's trading with heaven. God comes down to us by his Spirit, and we go up to him by prayer. What is prayer? It is an offering …
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments
Of Passages from the Holy Scriptures, and from the Apocrypha, which are Quoted, or Incidentally Illustrated, in the Institutes.
TO THE AUTHORS QUOTED IN THE INSTITUTES PREFATORY ADDRESS TO HIS MOST CHRISTIAN MAJESTY, THE MOST MIGHTY AND ILLUSTRIOUS MONARCH, FRANCIS, KING OF THE FRENCH, HIS SOVEREIGN;  JOHN CALVIN PRAYS PEACE AND SALVATION IN CHRIST.  Sire,--When I first engaged in this work, nothing was farther from my thoughts than to write what should afterwards be presented to your Majesty. My intention was only to furnish a kind of rudiments, by which those who feel some interest in religion might be trained to …
John Calvin—The Institutes of the Christian Religion
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