1 Kings 18:41-45
41 Then Elijah said to Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.”
42 So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees,
43 and said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” So he went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And seven times he said, “Go again.”
44 Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!” So he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.'”
45 Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel.
I hate to wait. Impatience is perhaps my worst character trait, and I don’t think I’m alone in that, am I? As a nation, we are an impatient people, and when we read in the Bible about the exodus from Egypt, we often see ourselves in those whining and impertinent Israelites–and even in Moses, who got impatient with their impatience. “All in the Lord’s timing” is the last thing we want to hear. I was telling a friend just last night, “Whatever the Lord is going to do in my life, I wish He’d just get on with it!” Of course, I don’t have much choice but to wait, to rely upon God’s perfect timing and judgment for my life. And I have to admit, often the waiting is well worth the result.
1 Kings 16:33
And Ahab made a wooden image. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.
King Ahab was so bad that the prophet Elijah proclaimed a drought in the land to bring Israel to its knees. (1 Kings 17:1) Eventually, Ahab sought out Elijah to end the drought, but before the prophet would seek to end it, he made a point of defeating the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel. Finally, after the powerful defeat of those false prophets, Elijah prayed for rain.
Elijah knew the rain would come. He told Ahab he heard “the sound of abundance of rain.” (v.41) What sound could the prophet have heard other than the word of the Lord God telling him the drought would soon end? But even knowing that the rain was coming, Elijah knelt down and prayed. Then he set his servant to watch for signs of rain.
Seven times the servant was sent out, and six times he returned and said, “Nothing.” Could you imagine being that servant? He had lived in a drought for several years, and his master told him to watch for the rain. And then he went out and saw nothing, nothing at all. Wasn’t this the Elijah who had started this whole drought? Wasn’t this the Elijah who had stood up to Ahab and Jezebel and the priests of Baal? Wasn’t this the Elijah who had called down the Lord’s fire on a sopping wet offering on Mount Carmel just a short time ago? And now that same prophet was praying for rain and NOTHING was happening? Yes, I think I’d be a little frustrated–in fact, I’d get more frustrated every time he sent me to look.
Then that seventh time, I think I’d trudge out there to look toward the sea with only half-hearted hope–and half-hearted doubt–that I would see anything at all. Then there it was, a cloud no bigger than my hand. Yes, now I would be excited.
That tiny cloud, rising up from the life-giving waters, rapidly grew into a heavy rain. Think about that for a moment: there were children who had been born into that drought who had never seen rain, had only heard about rushing rivers and torrents of rain that watered the land and made it green. Those children had been raised clinging to the dust, only half believing their parents’ folktales about clouds and storms, green fields and cool breezes. Some of those parents might have forgotten about rain, forgotten why the drought had begun–because of Ahab and those who bowed down to Baal–and perhaps even forgotten what life with rain would be like. And then, as suddenly as the waters left, they returned.
The Bible doesn’t tell us what happened next, doesn’t tell us how the people responded to this new miracle coming so soon after Elijah’s resounding defeat of the prophets of Baal. But God would have His way, and although Elijah had incited the anger of Queen Jezebel and feared for his life, the Lord still preserved a remnant of priests and believers for Himself. (1 Kings 19:18) That remnant of seven thousand would be more than enough for the Lord to use to break Jezebel and Ahab, and to preserve God’s covenant with Israel.
Today, I imagine I am not alone in wondering when and how God will bring the rain of revival to my country. I keep looking toward the sea, and I see nothing. Others claim they see that cloud as small as a man’s hand, but then nothing happens. But we must keep looking, keep praying, keep hoping. God has preserved a remnant of faithful believers for Himself, and He will water them in due time. And when He does, that tiny cloud will turn into a powerful storm of revival and rejuvenation, a water that washes over the land and brings the Living Water of Christ to people who have never believed in Him. In that day, the Ahabs and Jezebels will be overthrown, and people will worship the Lord God in spirit and in truth.
I am not Elijah, but as a believer, as a brother of Christ–adopted by God through the blood of His Son Jesus–I am committed to watch and pray, to fast and seek God’s healing hand upon the land. All believers are so commissioned, all believers are called to be so faithful. We must be patient, and we must not stop kneeling on our Mount Carmel just because someone tells us they see nothing. We may not see anything, but I HEAR something. Do you hear that sound, O impatient friends? That sound is the Word of God, and it is the voice of the Son of God saying, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38) Do you hear the sound of abundance of rain? Then look toward the sea, and believe that we will see that tiny cloud very soon.
Holy Father God, bring the rain. Help us to plant the seed among the remnant You have chosen. Guide us in cultivating the disciples You desire to fulfill Your covenant in the blood of Christ. We kneel before You now, and we look toward the sea. Lord God, prepare our hearts for the rain of Your mercy and salvation. Amen.