Sunday, November 15, 2009

Elijah Prayed and Knew that God Would Help
(1 Kings 17:1-24; 18:1-2, 41-46; James 5:17-18)

Elijah was a prophet of God in Israel about nine hundred years before the birth of Jesus. In Elijah’s time, Israel was divided into the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah, with the city of Jerusalem retained as the seat of government for Judah. The northern Kingdom of Israel was ruled by King Ahab and his wife, Queen Jezebel, originally from Phoenicia. Ahab allowed within Israel the worship of another god other than Jehovah—in other words, a false god. The god’s name was Baal, the god of the Canaanites. What’s more, Queen Jezebel, a priestess of Baal.

Needless to say, the Israelite prophets were pretty upset about the whole Baal situation, but none was more upset than the prophet Elijah. Elijah’s name in Hebrew is “Eliyahu,” meaning “my God is Yahweh” (my God is Jehovah). We are not certain whether Elijah was his birth name, or whether he was given the name because of his loyalty to Jehovah. Elijah prayed to God and Elijah listened to God. He did what God told him to do and went where God told him to go.

God had Elijah tell King Ahab that there would be no more rain. God then had Elijah hide from Ahab and God took care of Elijah while he hid. After three and a half years of drought and famine, God sent Elijah back to a very mad King Ahab.

Ahab blamed Elijah for the drought, but Elijah responded that Ahab and the kingdom’s idolatry were ultimately the cause of the problem. Elijah had prayed that God show the people the error of their ways by holding back the rain. Since one of Baal’s powers was over the weather, bringing a drought to the kingdom showed just how powerless Baal truly was.

Elijah told the people it was time for them to stop dividing their attention between Jehovah and Baal. They should choose once and for all. Elijah proposed a contest with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. To sacrifices were prepared. Whichever sacrifice was consumed by fire, that was the true God. Elijah stood alone against almost 1,000 worshippers of Baal. Baal did not respond to the hours of dancing, cutting, and calling of the prophets of Baal. Then Elijah called upon God. God answered with fire that consumed both the sacrifice and the altar. Following this demonstration, the people recognized the truth and made short work of the prophets of Baal.

Elijah then told Ahab to prepare because rain was coming. Elijah knew that Jehovah would send the rain, but it was not instantaneous. Elijah’s servant checked six times with no visible response to Elijah’s prayer. But with the seventh time, the answer came.

Elijah prayed and the rain stopped; Elijah prayed and the rain fell. Elijah asked God for help and God responded. Try making a list of requests for God’s help. Note what you hear from Him and how He answers your prayers. And be sure to thank God for His faithfulness in hearing you.

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