…And it came to pass at the seventh time, that he said, Behold, there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not. – 1Kgs 18:44 KJV
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As a sign of God’s unhappiness with the reign of Ahab as king of Israel, he had through the Prophet Elijah, stopped it from raining in the entire land – 1Kgs. 17:1. With the challenge of famine hitting the land strongly, King Ahab declared Elijah wanted, accusing him of being the reason for his misfortune. This is hardly surprising as humans generally, always find someone except themselves to blame for any misfortune that has come to them, but are quick to accept all accolades for all the positives of their lives. However, in the third year of the famine caused by the absence of rain, God directed Elijah to go and present himself to King Ahab – 1Kgs. 18:1. Still as part of God’s plan to let King Ahab acknowledge His sovereignty, He led Elijah to ask him to arrange a contest between all those gods that Ahab and Israel chose to worship, represented by their prophets, and the Almighty God to be represented by Prophet Elijah, so as to determine which god is most supreme – 1Kgs. 18:19-26.
The king accepted the challenge and Elijah, whose name means, Jehovah is god, went into the contest telling the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and four hundred prophets of the grove who had gathered, to call on their god to consume their sacrifice by fire, if indeed their god existed. They spent the whole day doing all they could, with Elijah mocking them, until it was obvious that they were never going to be successful in their efforts at getting their sacrifice consumed by fire sent down by their god – 1Kgs. 18:27-39. That was when Elijah decided to offer his own sacrifice to his God and the Almighty God indicated His existence by sending fire to consume the sacrifice of Elijah.
As a follow up to this and under the direction of the Spirit of God, Elijah, bowing his head in prayer, pleaded with God to restore rain to the land. In the course of this special request to the Almighty God for restoration of rain, Elijah periodically sent his assistant to check for whatever sign he could see to indicate that the prayer was answered, who reported on six occasions that he saw nothing – 1Kgs. 18:43.
The scripture today is the report of the assistant on the seventh occasion. On this occasion he reported the sighting of a cloud, the size of a man’s hand rising from the sea. On hearing this report, Elijah advised the king to stand up and commence celebration in anticipation of on-coming abundant rain. The story is marked by several faith building events that will definitely help to build the faith and prayer life of the Christian today.
1. Elijah started the process of faith building by firstly removing doubt in the minds of the people and their king – 1Kgs. 18:21; 39. This was achieved by the failure of the 950 prophets, representing different gods of Ahab and his wife, to bring down fire to consume their sacrifice whereas he, with the support of the Almighty God, brought down fire which consumed his sacrifice. Today’s Christian should not expect any miracle over his/her situation when there is still doubt, no matter how little. Doubt remains a major hindrance to obtaining any miracle from the sovereign Lord – Jms. 1:6-8. Anyone who desires miracle from the Lord must see Him only as the only god and believe He is able do what is being requested of Him – Heb. 11:6.
2. Demonstration of faith in God will require the destruction of every symbol that is linking the individual with any other god, human or spiritual – 1Kgs. 18:40. It is not possible to want to serve the Almighty God and still retain any symbol obtained or is linking one with any other god. Destruction or breaking of such links will be the ultimate indicator that the trust in God is total.
3. There must be faithful adherence to, and implementation of, every instruction from the Lord, no matter how much it seems abnormal. Elijah told King Ahab to stop mourning and start celebrating, even when he was yet to see rain and he complied – 1Kgs. 18:41-42. The Christian must demonstrate faith by taking steps of faith. Faith is not in saying but in doing. People must be able to recognise acts of faith for them to believe that faith is been demonstrated.
4. The essence of all these is to make the miracle expecting individual focus rightly and this was further demonstrated by the assistant of Elijah. On being sent out on the seventh occasion, he was able to see rightly. According to him, he saw a cloud of the size of a man’s fist coming out from the sea. Although cloud was supposed to be an indicator of rain so the assistant was right to associate it with answered prayer but he would have missed the sign because it was rain that was being expected. That being the case, he would have been expected to check the skies but he must have been rightly focused to see it rise up from the Sea. The origin of your miracle may not be in that direction that you are focused on. It may not be that brother, or uncle, or friend. Learn to lean on God to help you focus rightly as that may just be why many people miss their solution.
5. Elijah capped the faith milestones in this event by instructing his servant to tell Ahab to cut short his celebration and leave immediately – 1Kgs. 18:45b. That fist sized cloud was enough to convince him that big rain was coming. The miracle does not have to start big. Recognise those small things and place faith in them and before you know it, it will result in that big thing that you are expecting.
The result of all these acts of faith by the different personalities involved was always going to be a favourable answer to their request. The Bible says, the little cloud quickly transformed into a huge dark cloud and wind, both of which are always preludes to a great rain, which did arrive – 1Kgs. 18:.
Your request for the famine in your life to cease, irrespective of the cause will be also be granted if you can structure your activities along these divinely inspired faith lines. With your faith, you can move those mountains that are boasting and threatening to be permanent features of your life. You were not born with them so they cannot dictate the direction of your life. Live your life along the lines of your creator and his good plan for your life will manifest in Jesus name. Amen.