OK, remember, there was a 3 year drought in all of Israel. To end the drought, Elijah had just participated in an awesome event against the prophets of Baal, so now, in 1 Kings 18:41-46, Elijah says to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” So Ahab went off to eat and drink (he was fasting for rain), but Elijah climbed to the top of Mt. Carmel, bent down to the ground, and put his face between his knees.
“Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
“There is nothing there,” he said.
Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”
The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”
So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’”
Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. The power of the LORD came on Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.
Notice though that after all this, and the rain was meant to be the end of the drought, as well as final proof that the Lord ruled the Heavens (not Baal), for some reason, the Lord took His time bringing the rain.
There’s also the fact that Elijah fell to the ground, bowed down, and put his face between his knees, then told his servant to look at the sea for clouds. 7 times, Elijah sent his servant to look for clouds. Finally, on the 7th time, he reported a very tiny cloud, no bigger than a person’s hand, rising out from the sea. Before long, the skies became black with rain clouds, then heavy winds and rain.
It just makes me wonder why the Lord waited so long? I mean, it only took God 6 days to create everything that exists, so it’s not like God needed time for the water to evaporate into clouds.
But then, this also shows something about Elijah’s faith. He expected the rain, and knew it was coming, but expected it immediately, and even as it wasn’t immediate, Elijah continued to search. Elijah’s servant was also obedient to continue running back and forth. But Elijah was no doubt confused about the delay of rain.
Question: Why do you suppose that God took so long to bring the rain?
The whole point of the Mt. Carmel experience and drought was because Baal was named the god of Heaven. But God wanted to prove that HE is the only God of Heaven. So He closed the waters (drought), answered by fire from Heaven (only the Lord did), and brought rain.
The whole point was to glorify God. By Elijah telling Ahab to break the fast, maybe God saw him as feeling glorified in it all as well. But glory should only go to the authority, and only the Lord has that authority (only God deserves the glory). So for Elijah to tell Ahab to break his fast, maybe that put the authority and glory onto himself? (What do you think?)
Notice also, 19:1, Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done. See? Elijah didn’t do it, God did. But for some reason, Ahab associated this great event with Elijah. This is a common practice even to this day. Notice, when the Lord decides to produce a miracle through somebody, suddenly everybody looks at that person as the special one. Sure, God gets some of the glory, but that person becomes the go-to person whenever the miracle is needed to be repeated. For example, when somebody lays hands on another who’s severely ill, and God heals them, suddenly that person is given thanks, is recognized as being special, suddenly everybody wants to be around him/her, and they even name them something in relation to the miracle that was performed, like “The Healer” or something. But where’s the glory that God deserves? He was the one who did it. So maybe, by Elijah giving Ahab permission to break his fast, Ahab recognized Elijah as the one who did the miracle, maybe even the master of God, like God will do as Elijah tells Him to do and therefore Elijah is to blame (like Aladdin and his genie). So God responded by holding up the rain, causing Elijah to sweat it out some first.
But regardless of the reason, I believe it’s important to recognize the fact that all miracles are God’s doing, not ours. For example:
- Prophecy: Do you know the future? I don’t, but the Lord has shown it to me on occasion in dreams. In the same way, we’re not actually given a gift to see such on our own, but to see as God shows us, when He decides to show us.
- Healing: When I was serving as a chaplain at MacNeal Hospital in Cicero, IL, everybody I prayed for, I prayed would be healed Sometimes God healed them, but most of the time not. Some even got worse, or died. If it was me doing the healing, and if I was doing it according to my will, then everybody would have been healed, because that was what I wanted and asked God to do. But that wasn’t the case because it’s not I, but God who heals as He wills, when He wills, through us.
- Tongues: The correct understanding of this is explained in Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit landed on the disciples, looking like flaming tongues. The disciples didn’t run out and begin speaking languages that nobody knew, but of languages that everybody in town would understand. The Apostle Paul also says that if we speak in tongues, but nobody’s there to translate it to the rest present, then we should ‘shut the hell up’. For speaking in tongues without an interpreter just puts glory onto ourselves, and nobody can be edified by the message. But similarly, we don’t speak the language out of our own knowledge of it, but God, through the Holy Spirit, speaking it through us. If we spoke it, then we would be able to claim the glory, but it’s not us, it’s God.
- Miracles: Can we cause them? When I lived in Kentucky, we had a youth rally organization, and every month when we held it, it rained. On two occasions, we were outdoors without cover and lots of electrical equipment for the band. On the first occasion, when we saw the clouds rolling in, a bunch of us gathered into a circle and prayed for the Lord to hold back the rain. Next thing we knew, the rain clouds were circling the area where we were, but above us was blue sky. The second time, we were hosting a national Christian band called the “ApologetiX”. People from states all around were driving to our little town to see them play for a free show. They kept asking about the rain, and were concerned about the chances, for it was coming down in buckets everywhere else. But I promised them it wouldn’t rain, and nothing came down during the event. It was only as soon as we packed everything up and closed the last trailer that the rain began to fall. Now did I do that? Seriously? Can I, a mere human being, hold back rain? I used to own a waterbed, and I had enough trouble holding back the water mattress to put the sheets on. So there is no way that I could have held rain back in the clouds way high above us. That was God. Therefore, since it was God who held back the rain, God should receive the glory (and credit). Our glory is as God’s servant, not the other way around.
So we need to remember this whenever we see something awesome happen. Jesus even said that through our actions, people will praise God for what we did, even if they don’t believe as we do. Therefore, in all occasions, we must be sure to give all the glory to God. It’s not because we are more holy or blessed that “we” were able to do this, but because God decides to reveal Himself to others around us that He does it through us. We don’t do it, He does, and therefore He alone should be praised and given full credit for it.