10 June 2010

1 Kings 18:41-46

"The heavens grew black with clouds and wind; there was heavy rain." (v.45)


In the time this passage is set, there had been three years of drought and famine and the Israelites had suffered terribly from lack of food and water. At the same time, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel had wrought terror in the land. Jezebel, a fearsome woman, worshipped the false god Baal and on her instructions the Israelites were persecuted and their prophets put to death. Hundreds had been killed. Her husband Ahab was an Israelite but he was too weak and afraid of his wife to oppose her evil commands. But Ahab felt guilty for the suffering of the people, the persecution of the prophets and for his own weakness. Ahab blamed God's great prophet Elijah for the famine because he believed it to be God's judgement for his own persecution of the Israelites.

Ahab was in awe of Elijah. He feared him as much as he feared his wife, but for different reasons. Jezebel represented the power of evil but Elijah was the power of the living God. Now Elijah had spoken and had heard the sound of rushing rain. How could this be? Such a sound had not been heard for three years. The people were desperate for rain. Was Elijah dreaming? Was he imagining these things? Elijah responded to Ahab's personal needs, telling him to eat and drink. This showed that Elijah was not dreaming.

Elijah went up Mount Carmel - he had received from God a vision that rain would come soon. On the mountain his servant was sent to look for the signs of rain, time and time again. Each time he returned with the news that there was no sign of rain. Eventually - the seventh time that he was sent - the servant saw a small cloud on the horizon. Then the living God was experienced in the life-giving, earth-drenching, refreshing rain.

To Ponder

In what ways might Elijah's persistence be a symbol of hope today?

What do you thirst for most?

Bible notes author

The Revd Barbara Calvert

Revd Barbara Calvert is a Methodist minister and superintendent of the Bromley Circuit. Before becoming a minister she was an RE teacher, area coordinator for Christian Aid and chaplain to international students in the three universities in Glasgow.