He came from nowhere. No warning, no advanced notice, nothing. One day, he just showed up and spoke a few words that brought an entire nation to its knees… literally. Without any fanfare, pedigree, entourage or press agent, this strangely-clad man with intense, piercing eyes stood among the lunchtime traffic, raised his arms, and bellowed:
“As the Lord, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”*
And just like that, the sky dried up, the three and a half year drought began, and our lives were changed forever. Thus was our introduction to Elijah the prophet— the Elijah of Mount Carmel fame.
You must understand that a drought in Elijah’s day was much different than a drought today. There was no water rationing or voluntary restrictions. There were no, “You may wash your car on even numbered days and water your lawn on odd numbered days”— type of official pronouncements. No, it was nothing like that.
A drought in Elijah’s day meant crop failures, the death of all livestock, systemic famine, and disease that ran unchecked among a starving population. It meant that people, innocent people— the young and old and infirmed, died. It meant the loss of homes and farms and families and futures.
It meant an economic upheaval many times worse than the Great Depression or the plagues of Europe. Drought brought prolonged suffering to tens of thousands of people with no end in sight. It led to hopelessness, depression, despair, and suicide.
When Elijah spoke those 26 words of divine judgment he literally pronounced a death sentence on their society and culture.
But, why? What was his reason for shutting up the sky for an indeterminate amount of time? What was he trying to accomplish by calling for the destruction of Ahab’s kingdom? What was Elijah, and God, trying to do?
You know the answer. As the late Paul Harvey would say, “And you know the rest of the story.” Elijah was hoping to bring the land of Israel to repentance and back into fellowship with the God of the land— the God they had long ago rejected and abandoned. He was hoping, once the people of the land were stripped of their pride, sin and self-sufficiency, they would repent “in dust and ashes” and be drawn back into a dependant relationship with the Creator of the land.
Elijah’s goal was not destruction, but repentance. And that’s just what happened in 1 Kings 18.
Did it ever dawn on you that, like Elijah of old, God may have some of His holy ones praying for judgment to fall on America in order to bring her back to repentance? That maybe, after a three year drought, we as a nation may experience our own Mount Carmel encounter with God?
Remember the words of Elijah to the nation of Israel, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” * In other words, now is the time to choose… for them and for us.
Are you praying for the same? Should you be? Should I?
*1 Kings 17:1; 18:21
Listen while we look at Praying for Judgment to Fall on America. This is a study of Revelation 14:8-11.