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.