The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit. (James 5:16-18)
Elijah was a man with a nature like ours. Elijah was a man who could make it rain. The Holy Spirit, through this text, is trying to tell us that, if he can do it, we can do it. We can make it rain. But what does that mean?
Rain is a Type of the Holy Spirit Poured Out
In biblical typology, different liquids typify the Holy Spirit in different aspects:
New wine is a liquid which represents the Holy Spirit in the aspect of worship. Another liquid is oil, which speaks of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. But the living water, in Scripture, is always the Holy Spirit outpoured. The rain, outpoured, goes into the water table and becomes living water.
Jesus explained it this way:
"He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.'" But this He spoke of the Spirit whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified (John 7:38-39).
Jesus said directly that living water is the Holy Spirit outpoured.
For I will pour out water on your offspring, and My blessing on your descendants (Isa 44:3).
Once again, it says that God will pour out the water – that is rain – on the dry ground. And He says that this means He will pour out His Spirit. Rain is a figure.
Rain in One City, But No Rain on the Other City
And furthermore, I withheld the rain from you while there were still three months until harvest. Then I would send rain on one city and on another city I would not send rain; one part would be rained on, while the part not rained on would dry up. (Amos 4:7).
Why is it, for instance, that an evangelist like Reinhard Bonnke can preach in Africa and see thousands and thousands of people saved at a single meeting, but if he goes to Germany or England or Australia, nothing much happens? The answer is here in Amos 4:7. God would send rain on one city, but on another city he would send no rain. And the city without rain would have no harvest.
There is a sovereign work of grace in the outpouring of His Spirit. It is raining in Brazil, Korea, Indonesia, Philippines, and much of Africa. But in the Western Protestant countries which have had the Bible for 500 years, there is now a drought. God is turning His grace from the rich countries to the poor ones. White, Protestant Christianity is in numerical, moral, financial, theological and spiritual decline all over the world.
The church is growing in the Roman Catholic countries, the black countries, the olive-skinned countries and the yellow-skinned countries. The Anglican Church has declined massively in England, yet most of the African Anglican Bishops are outspoken evangelicals (Bishop Desmond Tutu being the notable exception). African Anglicans are terribly persecuted by Moslems in Nigeria. Throughout Asia the Anglican Church is very much alive. But in Britain, the Church of England is a dead church. The old time fire that happened in the Sunshine Revival in Australia, the Azusa Street Revival in California and the Sunderland Revivals in England with Smith Wigglesworth – that is what is happening now in places like Ecuador, Chile, the Philippines, Indonesia and Kenya. God will send rain on one city, while the city not rained upon will dry up.
Today we have people teaching formulas for Church Growth. That is nonsense. It doesn't work. There is a missing ingredient – the sovereign grace of God; His Spirit being outpoured.
His Word does not return void. (Is. 55:11) Some people will be saved, one here and one there, but, if you're talking about a massive harvest, no rain means no gain! But Elijah was a man who could make it rain and he was a man with a nature like ours. In other words, if he can do it, we can do it.
For the Sake of the Fathers and for His Name's Sake
I am convinced that God wants to give the Western Protestant democracies one more chance to repent before Jesus comes. God wants to give the Western countries another chance – not for our sake, but for His Name's sake. Not because we deserve it; we don't deserve it – our churches are, by and large, backslidden – but for the sake of our fathers.
As it says in Romans 11, God wants to give the Jews one more chance at the end of the world before Jesus comes. Why? Because when God looks at Israel, He doesn't just see Israel's sin and her ongoing rejection of her Messiah. When God looks at Israel, He still sees Jeremiah in prison. He still sees Isaiah being sawed in half by King Manasseh. He still sees Zachariah being martyred in the Temple. He still sees John the Baptist having his head chopped off. And he says "for the sake of their fathers, I want to give this nation one more chance."
Great Britain is the same. When God looks at Great Britain, He doesn't just see Britain as it is today, a so-called Christian country where Hindu gods are worshipped in Canterbury Cathedral whilst bishops deny the resurrection and the virgin birth. When God looks at Britain today, He sees all of it – past, present and future. He still sees John Bunyan chained to the wall of the Bedford County Jail for twelve years and writing The Pilgrim's Progress; He still sees John Wesley being stoned by mobs who were stirred up by the Church of England for preaching the Gospel; He still sees Tyndale being burned alive at a stake by the Church of Rome so we could have the Bible in English; He still sees Charles Haddon Spurgeon; He still sees Ridley and Latimer and Hooper, martyrs of England. And God says "For the sake of their fathers, and for my Name's sake, I want to give this nation one more chance."
This is equally true of the United States. He still sees Jonathan Edwards and D L Moody and Harry Ironside. He sees the faithful Christians. He doesn't just see what we have today with the Prosperity Preachers – the Mammon worshippers and the heretics.
God wants to give these Western Protestant nations one more chance to repent. But for them to have that chance, it has to rain.
First of all, we have to face up to the fact that we are in a drought. And, until this drought ends, all the programs in the world will not bring about repentance and revival in the church. It takes rain. No rain, no grain. No rain, no harvest. Elijah was a man like us who could make it rain. And today, God is looking for men and women like us, who can make it rain.
Now Elijah the Tishite, who was of the settlers of Glead, said to Ahab "As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word." And the word of the LORD came to him, saying "Go away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith which is east of the Jordan. And it shall be that you shall drink of the brook and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there."
So he did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and lived by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook. And it happened after a while, that the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land. Then the word of the LORD came to him saying "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you." So he arose and went to Zarephath and he came to the gate of the city; behold a widow was there gathering sticks; and he called to her and get me a little water in a jar, that I may drink".
And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said "Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand." But she said "As the LORD your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die."
Then Elijah said to her "Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first, and bring it out to me, and afterward you may make one for yourself and for your son. For thus says the LORD God of Israel 'The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty until the day that the LORD sends rain on the face of the earth.'"
So she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bowl of flour was not exhausted, nor did the jar of oil become empty; according to the word of the LORD which He spoke through Elijah. Now it came about, after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became sick; and his sickness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. So she said to Elijah "What have I to do with you, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my iniquity to remembrance and put my son to death!"
And he said to her "Give me your son." Then he took him from her bosom and carried him up to the upper room where he was living, and laid him on his own bed. And he called to the LORD and said "O LORD my God, hast Thou also brought calamity to the widow with whom I am staying, by causing her son to die?" Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and called to the LORD and said "O LORD my God, I pray Thee, let this child's life return to him." And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah, and the life of the child returned to him and he revived. And Elijah took the child, and brought him down from the upper room into the house and gave him to his mother, and Elijah said "See your son is alive." Then the woman said to Elijah "Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth."
Now it came about, after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying "To, show yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the face of the earth." So Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria. (1 Kings 17:1- 18:2) And it came about, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him "Is this you, you troubler of Israel?" (1 Kings 18:17)
Then Elijah said to them "Seize the prophets of Baal; do not let one of them escape." So they seized them; and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there. Now Elijah said to Ahab "Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of the roar of a heavy shower." So Ahab went up to eat and drink. But Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he crouched down on the earth and put his face between his knees. And he said to his servant "Go up now, look toward the sea" So he went up and looked and said "There is nothing" And he said "Go back" seven times. And it came about at the seventh time that he said "Behold, a cloud as small as a man's hand is coming up from the sea." And he said "Go up, say to Ahab 'Prepare your chariot and go down, so that the heavy shower does not stop you'". So it came about in a little while, that the sky grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy shower. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. Then the hand of the LORD was on Elijah, and he girded up his loins and outran Ahab to Jezreel. (1 Kings 18:40-46)
And it rained and it rained and it rained.
Some Background Information
The three and a half years in which it did not rain is a type of the three and a half years referred to in Daniel and Revelation, when the Spirit will not be outpoured at the end of the world. It is a type of what happens eschatologicallly, when the spirit of Elijah comes back into operation in some way, as predicted by the prophet Malachi. Similarly, the way that Elijah rescued the Gentile woman and her son teaches something about the way that God is going to use the spirit of Elijah, somehow, to take care of the Gentile church at the end of the world.
Elijah, Elisha and John the Baptist all had the same spirit. The Lord told Moses that He would "take of the Spirit who is upon you, and will put Him upon" the elders of the people (Num. 11:17).
When events happen in the same geographical location it usually means that there is some spiritual and theological connection between them. Elijah's ministry ended on the plain of Jericho where Elisha received his mantle (meaning his authority), and John the Baptist's ministry occurred at the same place. The wicked woman, Jezebel, is a type of the woman Jezebel in the Book of Revelation – the spirit of false religion – who turned the king, the political power, into someone she could manipulate. On behalf of Ahab, she obtained Naboth's vineyard, which Ahab coveted. (1 Ki. 21) In scripture the vineyard speaks of Israel and, by extension or incorporation, the Church. The wicked woman tried to get the vineyard for the king. This brought her into conflict with Elijah and she persuaded the king to try to destroy Elijah. This is exactly the picture in the story of Herodias (Matt 14:3- 12) – the wicked woman turned the king against Elijah (John the Baptist).
Wicked women in the Bible all point in some way to the character of the wicked woman in the Book of Revelation where the conflict with Elijah is going to be replayed in the Last Days.
Why Did the Rain Stop?
The first thing in our study of how God takes a man like Elijah and turns him into someone who can make it rain is to learn why the rain stopped. The rain stopped because of the sin of God's people. The Holy Spirit is not being outpoured on the Western Protestant world because of its sin, which is identical to the sin of Israel in the days of Elijah.
Abortion replays the sacrifice of children to demons that we see within Israel and Judah in the Old Testament. The worship of other gods – the priests of Baal were not foreigners, they were Jews. Today it is the same. Across the Western Protestant world there is a dramatic increase of the worship of other gods – Islam, New Age, Hinduism. New Age is permeating many of the Evangelical and Pentecostal churches today. People are mixing Christianity with Paganism – that is where Roman Catholicism came from, and that is what is happening today in many Pentecostal churches.
Materialism - the Church is lukewarm, materialistic, filled with crazy doctrines. It has a version of "faith" that is not biblical – the worship of Mammon in Christian masquerade; covetousness disguised as Christianity.
That is why the rain stopped. The first and foremost responsibility for the decline of Western civilization does not lie with secular society, it lies with us. It was the sin of God's people that stopped the rain. the problems proliferating throughout our society – drugs, abortion, divorce, violence, crime – all testify to the failure of the church. God's people compromised and eventual Israel ended up with the priests of Baal. That is what happened in Elijah's day, and that is what is going on today. It is not raining in our countries, because of the sin of God's people.
The first thing God told Elijah to do, was to go to the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan (1 Kings 17:3), and there the ravens would feed him.
Cherith was on the other side of the Jordan. When God told Elijah to leave his land and go to Cherith, he told him to leave behind his national identity, his cultural identity and his home comforts. On top of that, Elijah was to be fed by ravens. Ravens were not kosher – they were an "unclean" bird. God was going to provide for him in ways he would never have expected.
The drought is so critical in the Western world today, that people who would make it rain will have to be willing to go to Cherith.
Sometimes that will mean churches leaving traditional denominations that have compromised. Sometimes it will mean Christians leaving churches that have compromised, or that have gone into error and refuse to repent. And it will certainly mean trusting God to meet your needs in ways and in places you might not expect, even through things we consider to be almost unholy, like the ravens. Elijah had to be willing to put God first and his land second. So often today, the problem is that people are putting their land first – their culture, their identity, their denominations and their loyalties to those denominations – before obedience to the Word of God.
But the people who will make it rain will be the people who are not afraid to go to Cherith and trust God.
It is darkest before the dawn. Things will become much worse before they get better. The brook of Cherith will eventually dry up.
In verse 9 we see that Elijah has to go to a place called Zarephath. The word “Zarephath” comes from the Hebrew root meaning “to burn or to purify by fire”. For God to take somebody with a nature like ours and turn them into somebody who can make it rain, He needs to purify them by fire.
There is going to be a very difficult period – not just trial and testing, not just drought, nor even persecution – but all those things together. It will get to the point where the people you try to help will think you have betrayed them, as with the widow at Zarephath. But no matter how bad things get, no matter how dark it becomes, no matter how critical the drought, I can promise you two things: there will be flour in the dish and oil in the jar for those who are willing to be purified. Things are going to get bad before the breakthrough comes. But there is going to be flour in the dish and oil in the jar. You will have the Word of God and you will have the anointing of the Spirit, no matter what happens. You will have your grain and your oil when the others die from famine.
So she said to Elijah…
"What have I to do with you, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my iniquity to remembrance, and to put my son to death!" (1 Kings 17:18)
Her son died. And she blamed Elijah. The very people you try to help will see the hardship and they will blame you. Things have been so bad for so long that the things we love most will have to die before they can be resurrected.
Much of the church in the Western world will have to die before it can be resurrected. New wine cannot go into old wine skins. (Mk. 2:22) That was one of the problems with the Charismatic Movement – they tried to store the new wine in the old wine skins. In order to renew a church you have to replace the wine skin. The things that we have loved the most will have to die before they can be resurrected.
Troublers of Israel
"Is this you, you troubler of Israel?" (1 Kings 18:17).
Is this you, you troubler of the church? Is this you, you troubler of the Baptist Union? Is this you, you troubler of the Assemblies of God?
- You who are standing up against ecumenism and Kingdom Now and Faith-Prosperity and Name-It-and-Claim-It.
- You who are standing up against false miracles and bogus healings.
- You who are standing up against ministers making themselves rich by exploiting pensioners with lies.
- You troublers of Israel!
That is what they said to Elijah and, if you want to make it rain, that is what they are going to say to you.
Next they go to Mount Carmel. Here the conflict occurs with Jezebel – the conflict with the spirit of false religion, with Roman Catholicism, ecumenism, Free Masonary, Islam, homosexuality, abortion and New Age. There is going to be a conflict, and those who win that conflict will be those who have been purified at Zarephath.
So much of what we call "charismatic worship" today – with the noise, the ranting and raving, and the hype – looks more like the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel than like Elijah. Notice that the priests of Baal really thought it would work, they thought they would get a response.
Our brethren today, caught up in ecumenism, Kingdom Now theology, Restorationism – all unbiblical, false and dangerous doctrines, all associated with hype and with prophecies that don't happen – actually believe these things. But the conflict will come and the people will see who the true prophets are.
The Rain Cloud
It begins small. It doesn't seem like anything is going to happen at first. Where is it?
With the priests of Baal it was all loud boasting and arrogance and cheering and hype. But God doesn't work that way. It begins small. Like a little hand coming out of the sea. It always begins small. But it gets bigger and soon the whole sky is filled with rain clouds. Lightning strikes and God's Spirit falls. And it rains and rains and rains.
There is no easy way to stop the decline of Christianity in the Western world. It has gone too far for too long. We have been sold down the river by our leaders. All the programs and hype and gimmicks in the world will not bring a harvest of souls. That takes rain. But the rain has stopped. Why? Partly because of the sin of society, but mostly because of the sin of the Church. And until there is repentance in the Church, there is not going to be a repentance in the world.
Why has the rain stopped? It is not primarily the fault of pornographers or pimps or prostitutes or drug dealers or homosexuals or abortionists. It is primarily my fault, because I know the truth and I have the message that can make the difference. It is our fault, because the church in the West is Laodicea (s), because we are trusting in this life and this world more than we are trusting in Jesus. It is not raining because of my sin and your sin.
Those Who Make It Rain
Those who make it rain will be those who are not afraid to go to Cherith – people who are not bound by tradition or institutions.
They won't try to put new wine into old wine skins. They will do what God tells them and trust God to provide for them in ways they don't expect.
They will be people who are not afraid to be purified, people who will go to Zarephath, people who are willing to see things that they love die, knowing that these things will be resurrected in purity. It will be difficult. But no matter how difficult it gets, I promise you that there will be oil in the jar and flour in the dish.
And those people who are purified will go to Carmel and stand in front of Jezebel – in front of false religion and Free Masonry and homosexuality and Roman Catholicism and Islam. They will stand in front of the prophets of Baal – those who dare to call themselves ministers of the Gospel, but who compromise with false teaching.
There will be a conflict. And those troublers of Israel are going to win.