Andy Hollifield 5-1-18
1 Kings 18:44 And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not.
Chapter 18 of 1 Kings is well-known for the showdown on Mount Carmel between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. One part of that chapter is often overlooked. After the contest and after Elijah had slain the prophets of Baal, there was still the matter of ending the 3 1/2 year drought that Elijah had proclaimed in 17:1. Now, 3 1/2 years later, it is time for the drought to end. We talk often about Elijah praying and the fire falling from heaven, but he also prayed and it rained not for the space of three and a half years. By the time we get to chapter 18, Elijah had already been fed by ravens which brought him bread and flesh both morning and evening by the brook Cherith. The brook eventually dried up because of the drought so God sent Elijah to a widow woman in Zarephath, who was down to her last handful of meal, to sustain him. He had also raised the dead son of the widow woman and now he had presented himself to Ahab even though there was a price on his head. It was then that he proposed the contest between his God and Baal.
Can you imagine 3 1/2 years without rain. Ahab was going to likely have serious problems with the people if it didn’t rain soon. Verse 21 is the famous question, “How long halt ye between two opinions?” Now the contest is over and the false prophets are slain and here is Elijah still on top of Mount Carmel. The drought is still going on and the people are still in awe of what they had just witnessed. Immediately after the false prophets had been killed, Elijah tells Ahab to, “Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is sound of abundance of rain.” At this time, Elijah went on to the top of the mountain and cast himself down with his face between his knees, obviously praying. Six times he sent his servant to look toward the sea and 6 times he came back and reported that he saw nothing. I want to stop and ask a question; how do you think Elijah must have felt when he couldn’t get a prayer answered seemingly after just praying and the fire falling from heaven? He may have still been pretty pumped up about the earlier events but now this one wasn’t going quite as well. Can you imagine the faith it must have taken to keep sending that servant and getting more and more disheartened each time he returned? Elijah obviously had a lot of strong faith. If the truth be known, he may not have been getting discouraged but who could blame him if he was?
That seventh time he sent his servant to look toward the sea changed everything. He came back with a different report that didn’t really sound much different from previous reports. He only saw a little cloud about the size of a man’s hand. Aren’t you glad that “Little is much when God is in it?” Just one little cloud. One little shred of possibility. So seemingly insignificant, that most of us would have probably overlooked it or discounted it as not being important. God didn’t give much of a reason for hope, but when Elijah heard that report, business picked up in his soul. He told Ahab to get off of the mountain so the rain wouldn’t stop him. In verse 45, it says that there were dark black clouds, and wind, and finally a great rain. Ahab rode hard and headed to Jezreel but the hand of the Lord was on Elijah and he girded up his loins and outran Ahab’s horse and chariot to the city’s gate. All of that because he had faith in the little cloud that God gave him.
What about you? What has God given to you? It may be small and probably don’t seem like much and probably not near enough in your mind, but what has he given you? Your drought may just be dragging on with no end in sight. You keep going back to the Lord time after time but the report is always the same. Have you forgotten all of those times when the ravens fed you? You know, those little nuggets that God gives you from time to time in a song or maybe in a message you’ve heard when you felt so weak you didn’t think you could go on another step. What about all of those times? Can you really quit like they mean nothing at all? When was the last time that God let you down? That’s right, he never has. You know deep down in the recesses of your soul that God never will let you down. You remember having those same doubts and fears the last time. The last time that you came up against something you thought was impossible. That time when you could feel Satan’s hot breath breathing down your neck and hear him telling you, “If God was really that great and could do this, he would have done it for you already.” Yeah, that time. What happened then? That’s right; out of nowhere, in the midst of all of your doubts and fears, God gave you a little cloud. It didn’t seem like much at the time and you almost didn’t even notice it. But, out of that little cloud, God sent that great rain that settled the dust in your soul and washed away all of that doubt and fear! Yeah, that was impossible too, just like this time. But God did it because with him all things are possible! So keep going back to pray. Keep looking for any sign that he’s listening. And go back again, and again, and again. Keep going back until you see just a little cloud. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!
Andy Hollifield 5-1-18