I originally blogged about ‘A Cloud The Size Of A Man’s Hand’ in October 2011 when my blog was elsewhere, and had shared about it in the church I was in about a year before that. I was just thinking of reposting that blog post after mentioning about it the other day on Facebook, but on re-reading it I could see that a complete rewrite was in order, so here goes!
Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of rushing rain.’ So Ahab went up to eat and drink. Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; there he bowed himself down upon the earth and put his face between his knees. He said to his servant, ‘Go up now, look towards the sea.’ He went up and looked, he said, ‘There is nothing.’ Then he said, ‘Go again seven times.’ At the seventh time he said, ‘Look, a little cloud no bigger than a person’s hand is rising out of the sea.’ Then he said, ‘Go and say to Ahab, “Harness your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.”‘ In a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind; there was heavy rain. Ahab rode off and went to Jezreel. But the hand of the LORD was on Elijah; he girded up his loins and ran in front of Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel. (1 Kings 18:41-44 NRSV)
The land was dry, Israel had been in drought for three and a half years, it hadn’t rained since Elijah had prayed that it wouldn’t. God had answered Elijah by fire when he burnt up the sacrifice on Mount Carmel and the false prophets of Baal had just been killed, but the land was still physically in drought.
The land was still physically in drought, but it was no longer spiritually in drought. Like Jesus centuries later Elijah saw and heard what God was doing and responded accordingly.
Elijah HEARD and PROCLAIMED, he PRAYED and EXPECTED, then he PREPARED and RAN.
Elijah HEARD ‘the sound of rushing rain’ in the Spirit. He heard it because in the spiritual realm it was already raining.
Elijah PROCLAIMED what God was doing to Ahab. It is powerful when we start to speak out God’s word. Even before Elijah prayed he proclaimed what God was doing. In the spiritual realm it was already raining, it would soon also be raining in the physical realm.
Elijah PRAYED for the rain, in fact it could not rain until he had prayed for it, which he did. He returned to Mount Carmel to pray, he had prayed for fire which God had answered there, now he was praying for rain which he knew God would answer. Elijah’s prayer was prayed in faith, he was expecting God to answer. In fact, God not answering would not even have been considered an option by Elijah.
Elijah EXPECTED rain, he sent his servant to see the physical signs of the spiritual reality, if there was going to be rain then there would be a cloud. It wasn’t until the servant had been seven times that he was able to see what Elijah already knew was there. We do not know if Elijah just prayed once or if he prayed more than once, but both his actions that of praying and of sending the servant to look were done out of faith expecting to see the answer, than out of fear worrying that it might not happen.
Elijah PREPARED himself. He ‘girded up his loins’, or to put it another way he hitched up his garments and tucked them in his belt. This was a short time of preparation and change for Elijah, now was the time for him to change his focus from prayer to action.
Elijah RAN in the power of the Lord. It is between 15 and 20 miles from Carmel to Jezreel and although we cannot say for certain what that chariots top speed would be it would probably have been at least 12 miles an hour. Elijah could have done this in human strength alone if he was a world-class marathon runner on flat ground. The terrain is definitely not flat, and though probably very fit by modern standards I doubt that he was a marathon runner! If the chariot pace was higher he couldn’t have humanly done it at all. Elijah ran because the hand of the Lord was on him, we too must run in his power as his hand is upon us.
So where are you? Are you hearing and proclaiming the future in faith? Are you praying in faith and expecting the answer from God? Or are you preparing to run or running in the power of the Spirit, with the hand of God upon your life? Where are we as a country? Can you hear the rain? Can you see the cloud the size of a man’s hand? Are you running in the rain?
Different people and different churches and areas are at different places, so wherever you are seek God to move you on. What if you can’t sense anything at all? Than ask God to open your spiritual senses and let you hear and see what he is doing.
Heavenly Father, thank you that you are on the move in this land once again, you are speaking revival and the rain is coming. Help me to hear and proclaim your word, to pray and expect you to answer in power and to prepare and run with your hand upon me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.