It’s been less than a hundred years since David had been their king and only about seventy/eighty years since the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem, but in those seventy/eighty years, Israel, which was once a mighty nation united under God, has been divided into two separate kingdoms. They’ve drifted away from the faith and the principles of their founding fathers and have begun to worship the false gods of the unbelieving world around them.
The Lord sent the prophet Elijah to speak to Ahab, the king of Israel, the ten tribes now known as “the kingdom of the north.” Ahab had done more to provoke the Lord to anger than all the other kings before him. Each generation kept getting more depraved. Elijah told King Ahab that it would not rain again until the Lord said so. Then he left and he’s been living in Zarephath with a widow and her son.
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.’”
“After a loooooooong time…” Do you like deadlines? Here’s a deadline we all have to deal with – April 15th. When we’ve been given a deadline, some of us like to get it done right away to get it over with, but many of us don’t really get moving on it until the last minute.
The Lord has deadlines. He knows exactly when He’s going to do something and exactly when something has to be done. Unfortunately, the Lord doesn’t tell us what those deadlines are and that makes it terribly inconvenient for us, doesn’t it? We hate not knowing how long it’s going to take. We hate not knowing how much longer it’s going to be, don’t we?
Why didn’t Jesus just say, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel. Make disciples and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I’ll be back at 6:00pm on February 2, 2021 and I’d like you to have it all done by then.” If we knew that Jesus was coming back this afternoon at 6:00, what do you think we’d all be doing right now?
“in the third year…” The Lord didn’t tell King Ahab or Elijah that it wasn’t going to rain for three years. He just said it wasn’t going to rain again for “a few years.” How long is that? He’s coming “soon.” What does that mean?
Nothing is a greater threat to a believer’s faith than TIME. It’s not the trial; it’s not the persecution that weakens our faith, it’s time. History has proved over and over again that suffering and persecution will strengthen our faith. They’ll keep faith alive. But the passing of time can erode and eventually destroy our faith.
In the overall scheme of things, three years is not really that much time. But, because repentant believers live by every word that comes from the mouth of our Heavenly Father, not hearing from the Lord, not having the bread of life for three years can seem like an eternity.
I’m talking about three years when our trial keeps getting worse and we don’t hear the Lord speaking so it seems like the Lord is either punishing us or ignoring us. That’s when all the questions, all the doubts and all the fears begin to build up in our minds. Have I done something wrong? Have I grieved the Holy Spirit? Why isn’t the Lord answering me? How much longer is this going to go on? How much worse is this going to get?
When the Lord is silent or invisible for, what seems to us to be, long periods of time, our faith begins to crumble. Romans 5:3 NCV tells us that “troubles produce patience.” KJV uses the word “Tribulation”
Patience is the willingness to wait, the ability to maintain our faith over extended periods of time. We’re not really able to trust in the Lord until we are able to wait for the Lord over an indefinite period of time. The longer we have to wait, the more time that passes without any visible evidence that the Lord is with us, that the Lord is working and fighting for us, the more He is asking us and teaching us to trust in Him without being afraid.
1 Kings 18:2a “So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab.”
Without any advanced notice, the Lord just tells Elijah to speak to Ahab again and Elijah just got up and went. It may seem like the Lord is never going to move, but when the Lord is ready to move, He moves quickly. We need to be expecting it and we need to be prepared for it regardless of how long it seems to be taking.
1 Kings 18:2b – “Now the famine was severe in Samaria.”
Samaria is the capital of Israel right now. The famine was bad throughout the entire nation, but it was particularly severe for King Ahab whose palace was in Samaria.
Lord willing, we’ll see where this is going next Tuesday. Thanks for being in God’s word with Pastor Buj.