It was a beautiful day for sailing, and our friend Dave had invited us to go out on Long Island Sound with him and his wife. It was not hard to decide whether to go. The Sound was relatively calm that day - there was a very gentle breeze and not a cloud in the sky - but suddenly Dave announced to us, "We're heading in." I couldn't think of a single, rational reason to waste the rest of such an idyllic afternoon. I said, "Why Dave?" He said, "To beat the storm." Right? I checked the sky again, and there were still no clouds. Well, we headed for the harbor and pretty soon Dave was lowering his sails and we went the rest of the way propelled by his motor, and sure enough it started sprinkling as we entered the harbor! As we tied the last canvas around the folded sails, the skies opened up and dumped! Now, I was impressed - and dry, thanks to Dave hearing some static on the radio, knowing where that station transmitted from and sensing that rain was on the way. He saw no clouds, but he expected the rain.
Well, I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Rain When There Are No Clouds."
The prophet Elijah is an extraordinary character in the Bible. He got carried away in a chariot of fire at the end of his life. He appears from Heaven with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, but James tells us that he was a man just like us, except for one thing - the way he prayed. James 5 says, "A man just like us (but) he prayed earnestly that it would not rain and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the Heavens gave rain..." And just before that it says, "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." So there was something about the way that Elijah prayed that made him extraordinary, even though he was a man just like us.
Well, let's rewind the tape to our word for today from the Word, right back to the Old Testament. 1 Kings 18, Elijah summons all the prophets of the idol Baal to Mount Carmel for a showdown and he defies them to have their God send fire to consume a sacrifice they lay on their alter. They scream to Baal all day, no answer, then Elijah puts a sacrifice on God's alter, drenches it with water and then he prays. Verse 37, he says, "Oh, Lord, answer me, answer me so these people will know that You, oh Lord, are God, and that you are turning your heart back again." Well, the fire falls and the people fall on the ground in worship of Jehovah God. Then comes an incredible example of the kind of faith and prayer that God answers with miracles. 1 Kings 18:41, "And Elijah said to King Ahab, 'Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.'" It hadn't rained for three and a half years. "So Ahab went off to eat and drink but Elijah went to the top of Mount Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. 'Go back and look toward the sea,' he told his servant. And he went up and looked. 'There is nothing there,' he said. Seven times Elijah said, 'Go back!' The seventh time the servant reported, 'A cloud as small as a man's hand is rising from the sea.' So Elijah said, 'Go and tell Ahab to get up his Chariot and go down before the rain stops him.' Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose and a heavy rain came."
Hey, here's what happened - it reminds me of my sailor friend, Dave. He announces the rain before there is even a cloud! What does Hebrews 11 say - "Faith is being sure of what we hope for..." - God-pleasing faith believes that the answer will come when there is no apparent source from which it could come. There's no clouds but I believe God is going to send it! Sound like anything you're dealing with right now? So what is it about Elijah's praying that makes him so powerful? He prays desperately, "Oh, Lord!" with his face between his knees. He prays dependantly, "Only you can God," and he prays defiantly against all the odds, against all the enemies of God, and all the visible circumstances.
I love this scene, he prays and then he checks for an answer, he prays and then he checks for the clouds. You're on your knees right now believing God for something only He could do and you keep checking to see if there is any sign of the miracle - and there's nothing there. Here's the question: Will you trust your Heavenly Father so completely that you will hear the sound of a heavy rain when there's no cloud the rain could come from? Well, then grab your umbrella! What you see isn't what you're going to get! The downpour is on its way.