Elijah hears the sound of a heavy rain. The Lord is ready to send revival. After witnessing the weaknesses of the gods they’d been trusting in and seeing a demonstration of the Lord’s mighty power on Mt Carmel, (18:39) the people fell on their faces and cried – “The Lord – He is God! The Lord, He is God!” It’s going to rain again. Crops are going to grow again. People are going to feel clean again. Thirst will be quenched. The nation has a chance to prosper again. But, before any of that could happen:
1 Kings 18:42b “Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.”
Elijah climbed back to the top of Mt Carmel, put his face between his knees and prayed.
Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. (James 5:17
“Elijah was a man just like us;” an ordinary, imperfect human being, at times feeling helpless and unsure of himself just like us. But he was someone the Lord could use, someone who was willing to do whatever the Lord asked them to do.
“Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. (James 5:18(
“Again he prayed.” The first time he prayed “that it would not rain.” But when Elijah prayed again, the Bible doesn’t say he prayed that it would rain, that the Lord would make it rain. Elijah already knew it was going to rain because the Lord had told him He would make it rain. Elijah could already hear it raining. He just wasn’t getting wet yet.
We can tell what Elijah was praying by looking at the way Elijah was praying. Bending down to the ground and putting your face between your knees was the Old Testament posture of repentance. When he heard the sound of a heavy rain, Elijah climbed back to the top of Mt Carmel and started repenting of his sin.
The Lord is going to forgive Israel and send the rain again. But Elijah is on his face before the Lord saying, “We don’t deserve it Lord. We are a sinful people. We have angered you. We have broken your heart. We have disobeyed your word and followed after other gods. We are selfish. We are stubborn. We are a rebellious people. We will always be this way. We have short memories. It’s just a matter of time before we do it all over again. Thank you for your grace and mercy, Lord. We desperately need it but we certainly don’t deserve it.”
Wait a minute! What’s going on here? What’s Elijah doing? Elijah was a righteous man, a godly man. He was one of the few men who refused to bend their knees to worship Baal. Why is he on the ground with his face between his knees repenting of sin? Why is he the first one, maybe the only one, who’s repenting of their sin? King Ahab should be doing this. He’s the one who sinned the most. If that’s what we think, if that’s what we believe, we don’t understand the heart, the core of true repentance.
True repentance acknowledges that my sin is every bit as bad, every bit as offensive to God as anyone else’s sin. We can’t accuse or judge anyone else of sin until we’ve completely dealt with the seriousness of our own sin. True repentance acknowledges that all sin is my sin. All sin in my home, all sin in my church, all sin in my nation is my sin.
It’s never going to rain, we’re never going to get wet as long as God’s people keep insisting, “It’s not my fault, Lord, it’s theirs. I’m not the one who’s sinned, they are.” Pride holds back the rain. Pride delays the revival. Elijah isn’t blaming Ahab or anyone else for the trouble Israel is in right now. He’s on his knees before the Lord saying, “I’m the problem, Lord. I’m the one who’s sinned. Please forgive me.”
That’s the secret. That’s the key. That’s the heart of true repentance. Revival comes and the rain begins to fall when God’s people learn the secret of true repentance. We can’t continue to be right in our own minds if we ever hope to see revival. As long as we continue to believe that someone else’s sin is the problem, we’ll never see revival.
Elijah wasn’t on the mountain praying, “Lord, please make it rain,” He was up there praying, “Lord, please forgive me.” Pride holds back the rain but repentance brings on revival.
Lord wiling, we’ll pick it up again from here next Tuesday. Thanks for being in God’s word with Pastor Buj.