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A Promise Kept

Key References: 1 Kings 18:41-46; Prophets and Kings, chap. 12, pp. 155-166; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 5, pp. 35-37; Our Beliefs nos. 10, 18, 3

Power Text

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Power Point

God always keeps His promises.

Have you ever prayed for something and not gotten an answer right away? That happened to Elijah right after he had experienced an instant answer to prayer—when fire came down from heaven on Mount Carmel. This time, however, he prayed seven times before he got an answer.

After God answered Elijah’s prayer on Mount Carmel by sending fire from heaven, the people realized that Baal was a false god. The prophets of Baal, however, refused to accept Jehovah as the true God. Even with the evidence of the burned-up altar, they would not recognize the power of God. Because of this, Elijah commanded that they be killed. Not one prophet of Baal escaped.

Then Elijah told the king to go and eat, because he knew a great rain was coming. But Elijah didn’t stop to eat and rest; he went to the top of Mount Carmel and looked at the sky over the Mediterranean Sea. It was blue. There were no clouds. Elijah heard no thunder. Swirls of dust rose from the barren sides of the mountain ridge. Withered plants bent in the wind. But Elijah believed that God would send rain to the land as He had promised. Without any evidence of rain, Elijah believed rain would come, and had told the king to prepare.

Elijah bowed down with his face to the ground and prayed for God’s people. A great miracle had occurred that day on Mount Carmel. God had demonstrated to His people once and for all that He was the God who had blessed them. The people had humbled themselves before Him. They had confessed their sins. The way was prepared for a great change to take place in Israel. Now Elijah wanted the people to receive the rain that would convince them of God’s love and care.

Elijah told his servant to go to a high point that overlooked the sea. “Tell me what you see,” he said.

The servant looked out over the vast Mediterranean. As far as his eye could see there were no clouds in the sky. He came back to Elijah. “There is nothing there,” he said.

God had answered Elijah’s prayer for fire from heaven immediately. However, God did not answer Elijah’s prayer for rain immediately. Elijah continued to pray. He did not become impatient. He did not become discouraged. He did not lose his faith in God. Elijah knew that God would keep His word. Six times Elijah sent his servant to look out over the sea for a sign of rain. Six times Elijah got the message “There is nothing there.” Then Elijah prayed again, the seventh time. He knew that God would send rain, just as He had promised. Then Elijah sent his servant the seventh time. “Go. Look for a sign of rain.” This time the servant returned with the exciting news “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea” (1 Kings 18:44). It was enough. Elijah rose.

He did not wait for the sky to fill with dark clouds. He did not wait for a sprinkle of rain to begin. He recognized this cloud as God’s sign that rain was coming.

Elijah immediately sent his servant to King Ahab with the message: “Prepare your chariot and start down the mountain now, before the rain comes to stop you.” But before Ahab could do as Elijah had commanded, the sky grew thick with gray clouds, the wind rose, the rain began. The king started his trip to the city of Jezreel, about 28 miles (45 kilometers) away. Meanwhile Elijah tucked his tunic into his belt, and with the power of God he ran in front of the royal chariot until they reached the safety of the city.

Elijah was a mighty prophet, and humble, too. But it was not Elijah’s might that had caused the heavens not to give rain for more than three years. It was not Elijah’s goodness that had brought fire from heaven. Nor were his seven prayers capable of opening the heavens to rain.

The rain had come because God had promised it. God keeps His promises. Elijah knew that. He believed in God and trusted His promises. As a result, Elijah witnessed God’s most miraculous answers to his prayers.