In the first verse in 1 Kings 18, there is an eloquent phrase: “The word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year.” Three years! That’s an incredibly long time to go without rain. We can’t imagine it, can we? But God was up to something. By now, not even those false prophets could garner much credibility. All repetitious prayers and rituals and voodoo tactics had proven useless. Is it any wonder that Elijah had the people’s attention when he challenged the prophets of Baal and Asherah to a public showdown with Jehovah God? By now, they were willing to try anything. Elijah didn’t have to plead for their cooperation.
And is it any wonder that, when God proved Himself to them, the people “fell on their faces” and immediately acknowledged, “The LORD, He is God; the LORD, He is God” (18:39)? And when Elijah told those same people to seize the prophets and not let one of them escape, he didn’t have to beg them; the people of Israel had had enough of those idolatrous fools! The fire from heaven may have convinced them, but the never-ending drought had already sucked dry most of the confidence they’d had in the pagan leaders they had once followed. God’s delay worked wonders when the choice between who was worthy of worship needed to be made. Natural calamities normally turn hearts toward God, not from Him.
But look again at that first verse in 1 Kings 18, and you will find another promise of God. Elijah was more than ready to hear this one! “I will send rain on the face of the earth,” God said.
Finally. What relief that promise must have brought. I find it interesting that God’s prophet had never once complained about the drought, even though the very brook from which his water supply came had dried up, and even though it must have been as dreadfully difficult for him as it was for the others in the land of Israel. But the difference between Elijah and the others was simple: he knew God would one day fulfill His promise and bring rain. Until then, Elijah would wait, never doubting, because he was fully persuaded of something most of us, at one time or another, doubt: God keeps His promises.
Excerpted from Charles R. Swindoll, Great Days with the Great Lives (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission.