Summary: This message tells us that God can take care of problems of long standing. He can give us little signs that the answer is on the way and hope in the time of discouragement.
The Little Cloud in a Great Big Sky
INTRODUCTION: Elijah was a prophet, a man of God, who was appointed by God to preach and to prophecy in the land. There was a drought for three years. We could relate to his by saying, “there has been a recession in the land for three years—something of long standing. People suffered. There was a famine in the land. The people were weary of it. Enough was enough. Actually it came about because the people had turned from God. There was sin that needed to be dealt with first because the people were praying to Baal. Ahab said to Elijah, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”
Elijah said, “I have not made trouble for Israel but you have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed Baal.”
You and the people have gotten off on the wrong track. It came to a showdown between Baal and God. When Baal didn’t answer their pleas, Elijah repaired the altar of the Lord which was in ruins and made a sacrifice unto God and prayed, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, let it be known today that you are the God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
At that, the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice. When the people saw this, they acknowledged God and said, “The Lord—He is God!” At that time the prophets of Baal were all seized and killed.
The root problem—the sin had been dealt with. But the problem of no rain had not been dealt with. It was the very same as the day before. So they were still facing the same thing. The famine was still going on. No crops could grow. Things were still like they had been for the past three years.
Today’s scripture starts here in I Kings 18:41-46:
“And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.’” Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
“There is nothing there,” he said.
Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”
The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”
So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’”
Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. The power of the Lord came upon Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.
Elijah said to Ahab a turnaround is on the way because there is the sound of heavy rain. What would you have thought if you had heard this news? There could be a variety of reactions.
I don’t hear any sound of rain.
It hasn’t rained for three years—what makes him think today will be any different?
What does he know about it?
Elijah spoke out the prophetic word—there is a sound of abundance of rain. Many times God is telling us to DECLARE something by faith and speak it out before we see or hear the slightest indication of anything happening. Apparently Ahab believed what Elijah told him because he got up and ate.
Then Elijah went to the top of Mount Carmel with his servant. He got down on his knees and prayed then told his servant to go look toward the sea.
The servant went down and looked toward the sea and came back and said, “there is nothing. No sign of rain.” What happens when we go look and nothing has happened? We might say,
Maybe I missed God. Maybe this was not God telling me that. Maybe it is not God’s will. Maybe it is not possible. Maybe…
The devil brings doubt in when we are looking.
There was a sign on a shoe store that said, “Shoes repaired here—a miracle takes a little longer.”
Elijah said, “Go look again.” It doesn’t say how long it was before he went back the second time. It might have been an hour or five minutes. He came back a second time and said, “There is nothing.” It doesn’t say what Elijah thought or felt when there was still nothing.
What about the times when we pray and the answer doesn’t come one way or another. There is nothing at all. You apply for a job and don’t even hear back from the application. Just nothing. You go to the doctor and don’t get your test results. Days go by. Nothing. You think, They must not be interested in me” or “It must be a bad report.”