Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 26, 1958
NUMBER 9, PAGE 3a,11b

Studies From Elijah -- (V)

Connie W. Adams, Bergen, Norway

The test having ended which determined beyond doubt which was the one true God, Elijah commanded that the prophets of Baal should be seized, and took them "down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there." It is sometimes difficult for us in the full light of the gospel dispensation to understand these accounts of slaughter which took place under that covenant which has now been taken away that the second might be established. Invariably we tend to judge such circumstances by the standards of the "law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus." Let us be reminded that Paul referred to the punishment meted out for sin in the old covenant as a "just recompense of reward." Heb. 2:2. We may be sure that the punishment administered was commensurate with the seriousness of the offense committed. It was a serious thing indeed to be engaged in the business of turning the hearts of the very nation which God had chosen through whom to bring redemption into the world, away from Him who had selected them, and to bring their knees down before false gods. Such a work was a virtual attack upon the eternal purposes of God as they moved toward consummation in Christ.

This done, Elijah sent word to Ahab to "get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain." There seemed to be no doubt in the prophet's mind that the drought would soon be broken. He then went to the top of Carmel and engaged in that earnest prayer for rain which James used as a perfect example of the force of a righteous man's prayer. From these heights, the prophet sent a servant to gaze toward the sea while he prayed. The servant returned to report that he had seen nothing. He was sent again seven times, and after the seventh time returned with the report that "there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand." This might have been small encouragement to many of us, but this man who walked so closely with God said, "Go up and say to Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not." There are many lessons on prayer which we may learn from this event. (1) "The ears of the Lord are open" to the prayers of a righteous man. Uprightness of character and close communion with God give men a power that is beyond the full comprehension of the human mind. "The fact of the Lord is against" the evil man. Many of our time who have come into covenant relationship with God, have stripped their prayers of any force because they have become "entangled again in the yoke of bondage." The prayers of such are hollow words which are an affront to God and which plunge the one who mouths them into gross hypocrisy. (2) Persistence was a noticeable quality of Elijah's prayer. Many pray with this attitude: "I will ask one time and see what happens." The servant of the prophet was sent seven times to gaze into the sky toward the sea, and it was not until the seventh time that he announced the sight of the small cloud. (3) Perfect confidence in the promise of the Lord was shown in the message that was sent to Ahab when only the small cloud had appeared. God had spoken through Elijah in the statement that "there would be neither rain nor dew from heaven" but by his words, and the prophet had now entreated God, the small cloud had been seen, and Elijah foresaw a great rain. Thus, "the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain." The prophecy spoken 31/2 years before was then fulfilled.

Ahab drove away speedily toward Jezreel with the prophet Elijah running before him. The purpose of this apparently strange accompaniment is not revealed. Some have thought that Elijah reasoned with him respecting the things which had transpired, others that he ran before him to press upon Ahab the necessity for haste if he would reach the city before the rain came, and that he himself fully expected his prayer to be answered. We see nothing in the passage to indicate the purpose at all, and hence have no inclination to guess. In what spirit Ahab related the events of the day to his wife Jezebel, we are not told, but there is no difficulty in determining the effect it had upon her. The news infuriated her and produced a threat to the very life of Elijah. There was no master in Ahab's house, but there was unquestionably a mistress. Rather than crying out as Israel and saying "the Lord he is God," this woman saw in the events a personal defeat, a challenging of her desires. She was not having "her way" and she was determined to have it if it meant destroying this man who hindered her. Her message to Elijah was short and to the point: "So let the gods do so to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time." Thus the man who had been so triumphant such a short time ago, whose heart beat with joy to hear the confession of Israel "the Lord He is God," and who had put to death the defeated and weary prophets of Baal, was forced to flee for his life, and in that flight to express a spirit of pessimism which did not become him, but which led to his learning a vital lesson concerning the ways in which God was able to accomplish his will. Here we shall leave him this time, under the juniper tree, in deep reflection, confusion and disappointment, a man about to learn that God works' in other ways beside demonstrations of fire from above, and that truly He moves in mysterious ways "His wonders to perform."