Go ahead and find I Kings 18.
1. A person with rainmaking faith hears and obeys the Word of the Lord.
Look at 1 Kings 18:1-After a long time, in the third year, the word of the LORD came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.”
Now, this may not sound like a big deal if you don’t know who Ahab is or if you don’t know the history between Elijah and Ahab, but it was a big and bold thing God was asking Elijah to do. Ahab was a wicked king who considered Elijah to be an enemy. There had been a draught for over three years and that draught started after Elijah got in Ahab’s face in I Kings 17:1 and told him in God’s name that there wouldn’t be any dew or rain for a few years. Ahab had been searching for him ever since because he wanted to kill him (18:10). So, to be told to go seek Ahab out rather than hide from him in fear for your life could have sounded like a death sentence to Elijah. Nevertheless, at the word of the LORD, Elijah set out to find the man who wanted him dead to tell him God was now going to send the rain.
Discerning and following the word of the Lord is a progressive process for most people. Most of us don’t just go from never hearing God’s voice to being willing to walk into a death sentence just because God says so. For most of us, learning to hear and follow the Word of God is something that is developed.
This wasn’t the first time Elijah obeyed the word of the Lord. After he pronounced the draught to Ahab in I Kings 17, the word of the LORD came to Elijah and directed him to move and live by a brook where he would have water and where ravens would bring him food. Had he not followed the word of the LORD he would have died of starvation. In that way, you could literally say that following the word of the LORD sustained his life.
We read in verse 7 of I Kings 17 that the brook eventually dried up. Since we serve a God who is never out of options, He simply spoke to Elijah again to tell him how he planned to sustain him next. It meant leaving where he was in order to receive God’s further provision. God could have sustained him even at a dry brook, but he chose to move him on.
If you are in a tough place, God can sustain you right where you are, but if he has other plans for you that include new experiences, new people, and new adventures in faith, if you are willing to listen for His voice, you will hear Him tell you when it is time to move on or move out in some new way.
So, we read in I Kings 17:8 that the word of the LORD came to Elijah again and he was instructed to go to a widow’s house where he would be supplied with food and drink. Elijah obeyed. There he was further sustained and as a result of his willingness to go, the widow witnessed the miracle provision of God when her oil and flour kept multiplying. She also received a miracle healing of her son who had stopped breathing. Her response to the miracle of the resurrection of her son is interesting, “1 Kings 17:24 24 Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD from your mouth is the truth.”
When we hear the word of the LORD and live by it, people will recognize God and will see his word as truth to live by. You and I have a great opportunity to not only do that which pleases God personally as we hear and follow His word, but we also have an opportunity to impact others to become believers as they watch our commitment to hearing from God and living out His instructions.
2. A person of faith confronts natural and supernatural evils.
So Elijah ran into one of Ahab’s servants who happened to be a God-fearing man. His name was Obadiah. Even though Obadiah feared God himself when Elijah asked him to go get Ahab so that he could meet with him, Obadiah couldn’t believe what he heard. He knew Ahab wanted Elijah’s head. Why request a meeting? Why put yourself in harm’s way? If Elijah was up to some kind of trick and didn’t plan on following through with a meeting, Ahab’s servant might have been killed for trying to set it all up. Elijah reassured Obadiah that if he would set the meeting up, he would show.
Well, let’s pick up the story in 1 Kings 18:16-24 16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” 18 “I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the LORD’s commands and have followed the Baals. 19 Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” 20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing. 22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the LORD’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let them choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire–he is God.” Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”
Do you wonder why Ahab didn’t kill Elijah on the spot? He and his wicked wife, Jezebel, had been looking to do just that. My guess is that he intended to kill him, but he was waiting until Elijah would make good on the promise of the rain to come again. Ahab knew it had been Elijah’s prayers and God’s power that had stopped the rain, and he was likely counting on Elijah’s prayers and God’s power to start the rain again, so instead of killing him, he had to follow Elijah’s suggestions about having a contest between God and the 450 prophets of Baal. Verse 19 tells us Elijah also requested Jezebel’s 400 prophets the prophets of Asherah to come to the competition, but for some reason they didn’t show! Maybe Ahab was so afraid of his own wife that he didn’t even tell her about the contest!
So the 450 prophets of Baal were told to pick a bull, cut it into pieces for a sacrifice and put it on the wood but not to set fire to it. They were to call on Baal to see if Baal would start the fire for the sacrifice. After they took their turn Elijah was going to do the same thing. Everyone agreed.
So the prophets of Baal set their sacrifice up, and boy did they work hard to try to win this contest. Verse 26 says they started praying and shouting in the morning and at noon still nothing had happened. They started dancing around their sacrifice in hopes of getting their god’s attention. The whole thing was a bit entertaining for Elijah. He kind of enjoyed watching them make fools out of themselves. Remember, the whole assembly of Israel was watching this too. Elijah started to taunt the false prophets. Look what he said in verse 27: “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” So, they started shouting louder and they started cutting themselves in a ritualistic way with swords and spears. This went on for hours, and nothing happened.
Now let’s back up and analyze what Elijah had just done. He had taken on the king who wanted to kill him, and he had taken on 450 people who opposed his God. One person had just taken on 451 people. He was in command. He was calm, cool and collected. He was confident that because he was following the word of the LORD that he would prevail. Elijah knew something we must embrace: One is a majority with God.
You and I need to acknowledge that when we take God to be our LORD we are an enemy to anything that opposes Him. There are powers in the flesh, people who will not be happy about your life and your mission and there are powers of darkness, Satan and his demons, who will seek to take you down and snuff you out. What matters is not how many are against you. What matters is where your personal identity is. 1 John 4:4 “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” When I am found in Christ, I am always standing in power and always have the power to overcome any other power whether it is a power in the flesh or a dark power in the spirit.
Now let me show you something. Elijah wasn’t just confronting King Ahab. He wasn’t just confronting the powers of darkness. He was also confronting the Israelite people who had wondered away from God. The Israelite community assembled to watch the contest and Elijah had some words for them. Look at 1 Kings 18:21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing.
In faith, Elijah was calling God’s people to decision. They had gotten off track with God. They were playing both sides of the fence. If they thought something good that happened could be attributed to Baal they would run and worship him. If they thought something that happened was the work of God, they would run and worship Him. They were “wavering between two opinions.” Scripture tells us that won’t work, and Elijah had the guts to call the people to make a decision about where their loyalty would be.
People who have rainmaking faith are all in for God. They don’t waver. If you waver in your decision to trust God, you will experience instability in the rest of your life for the rest of your life. (James chapter 1)
I love that in this story in chapter 18 there is a sequence to the way faith is pictured. The need for the people to settle that God is God comes before the abundance of rain at the end of the chapter. There had been a physical draught in their lives, but there had also been a spiritual draught. Before the abundance of rain which we will get to in a minute, there had to be a re-commitment to the one true God. Listen, first things have to be first. The Bible says in Matthew 6:33 to “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Then things start being added to your life. Then victory comes to your life. Then blessing will come to your life. Then abundant rains will fall in your life.
Well, Elijah asked them to make a decision and the people said nothing. He was looking for an “amen” and he got chirping crickets! (I feel his pain!) What was about to happen was just as much to dispel any credibility of the prophets of Baal as it was to convince God’s people that they needed to place all of their hope in Him alone.
Baal didn’t answer his false prophets, and Elijah was up to bat. Before he could offer his sacrifice, however, he had to do something. Look at verse 30: 1 Kings 18:30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which was in ruins. Commentators argue that some of the Baalites, some who had compromised faith in God, had participated in the tearing down of the altars which had been built to revere Jehovah God. The repairing of the altars takes us to the next point:
People with rainmaking faith will rebuild what the enemy destroys.
John 10:10 tells us that Satan seeks to steal from us and destroy pieces of our lives. People with rainmaking faith have the authority based on the word of God to experience restoration in their lives. You can choose to step out and reclaim and rebuild the ruined places of your life when God is at the center of your life.
We have all made mistakes. We have all been vulnerable to the attack of the enemy. We have all no doubt participated with the enemy from time to time by succumbing to temptation that compromised our faith. It is time to rebuild some altars. It is time to consecrate some pieces of our lives back to God. It is time to see some things put back together that the enemy has taken from God’s people.
Follow this idea with me. I don’t have a commentator to quote, but God has put this in my spirit. When the Israelites built altars it was to honor something God had done or to acknowledge something God had revealed about Himself. It became a sacred place, a reminder that they were His people and He was there God. To destroy an altar was then, an attempt to undo the thing God had done or to try to discredit the everlasting faithfulness of God. It was a mockery of the holy. It was a black eye to the relationship God had with His special people.
When Elijah picked up twelve stones in verse 31, one representing each tribe of Israel, he was cleverly and creatively reminding all who were present that God had a people and that God had been faithful to His people. He was lovingly calling them back to the
Relationship; back to where God was held in reverence and honor by them. Surely some of the people gathered had been there the day the altar had been built in the first place. Surely they remembered why it had been built and how God had met them in a special way which prompted the first building.
Though they had been scattered from God, symbolized in the scattered stones that once were a holy altar, God was calling them back. God was bringing them back to Him, and Elijah believed it was possible.
I don’t know what altars have been knocked over in your life. I don’t know what once was sacred to you that has been torn apart and torn down. I don’t know what pieces of your faith have been scattered and given to something other than God, but God wants to remind you this morning that He has a people. If you are in Christ, you are one of them. He has bought you with a price. He wants to repair the broken altars in your life. He wants you to remember His faithfulness and everlasting love. Let today be a day of rebuilding and healing.
Well, Elijah placed his sacrifice on the altar, and he even poured water all over the sacrifice because he wanted to give God an opportunity to show off! Elijah called upon the God of Heaven and fire fell and consumed the sacrifice. The people, after being reminded they were God’s through the rebuilding of the altar and after witnessing God’s mighty power again in that place, they recommitted to serving Him. They killed the 450 prophets of Baal.
Remember how chapter 18 began? It began with God telling Elijah to get to Ahab to tell him the rain was coming. God was doing a lot of teaching along the way, but we finally get to verse 41 where Elijah, still in control and giving commands, says to Ahab, (NKJV) “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.” 42 So Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; then he bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees, 43 and said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” So he went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And seven times he said, “Go again.” 44 Then it came to pass the seventh time, that he said, “There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!” So he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot, and go down before the rain stops you.’ ” 45 Now it happened in the meantime that the sky became black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain. So Ahab rode away and went to Jezreel.
People with rainmaking faith pray fervently without giving up.
We just read that Elijah was almost in a fetal position as his face was between his knees. He wasn’t doubled over in pain, but in prayer. He was humbling himself before the Lord. He prayed and then asked a scout to go see if any rain was on the horizon. Time after time the answer was “No.” But Elijah didn’t give up. The seventh time, Elijah’s servant said, “I see something! It is a cloud as small as a man’s hand, and it is headed our way!” In a very short time, heavy rains fell.
What an example of humility and expectation. Elijah didn’t just pray and hope. Elijah persevered and expected. He believed the word of the LORD that had come to him at the beginning of chapter 18, and he stayed in prayer until he prayed through and witnessed the answer.
How easy would it have been for Elijah to conclude God had changed his mind and that He wasn’t going to send rain? Every time his servant came back and said, “I don’t see anything” Elijah could have been tempted to quit. Why did he persevere? He kept going in prayer because he believed the word of the LORD at the beginning of chapter 18 and his spiritual ears were so tuned to the spirit realm and supernatural that even though he couldn’t see the rain he could hear it! Verse 41 says he heard the sound of an abundance of rain. Listen, what you can hear from God can give you rainmaking faith to persevere in prayer. Elijah got wet! He got poured upon. The land and the people of God received a huge refreshing.
The testimony we heard from Justin Waybright this morning is an encouragement to me. He could have been quickly re-employed, but he isn’t just taking the first job to be offered. He is seeking a word from the LORD. He has proven through his writing he will take on the forces of evil and will hold up the standard of truth. His testimony speaks to the rebuilding of altars in his life when it comes to how he is going to react when difficulties come and how he will stay true to the LORD even when there is great temptation to follow the advice of the world or drowned his sorrows in a bottle of alcohol. He believes God is going to sustain him during this time of financial draught. He is seeking God’s face because he believes the next job is going to be a job that will be a blessing to him and his family and will give him a greater platform from which to glorify God. He’s a rainmaker!! I want to be a rainmaker!
Is it raining in your life?
Have you heard and obeyed the word of the LORD?
Are you willing to confront natural and supernatural evils in your life?
Are you seeking to rebuild the altars in your life that have been destroyed?
Are you praying fervently in faith without giving up?