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Elijah is spoken of in the prophecy of Malachi ; thus, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, before tbe coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord, and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse." And though John the baptist came in " the spirit and power of Elias,”
“ so that our Lord said of him, “and if
ye will receive it, this is that Elias that was to come,” yet, as our Lord also says, “Elias
« shall truly first come and restore all things," there is reason to suppose Elijah will come again when the Jews have their kingdom restored to them. The coming of Elijah is one of those prophecies which has more than one accomplishment. It has been partly fulfilled in John the Baptist, it will be more fully fulfilled in the very person of Elijah, for it cannot be said John“ restored all things.”
There is another allusion to Elijah in the New Testament which we must now notice, as it has to do with what we read about him in this chapter we are considering. In the last chapter of St. James' epistle, he says, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed
earnestly that it might not rain, and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.
And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit."
Now, we learn from this what we should not have otherwise known, that when Elijah told the people of Israel that there was to be no rain for three years, he had been ing to God that it might be so.
Elijah said unto Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel liveth before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years but according to my word.”
We may suppose therefore, that Elijah was fully convinced that the people needed some heavy judgment to bring them to a sense of their sins, and turn them from their idolatrous worship of Baal to the worship of the true God. He sought therefore in this way to convince them. He showed them that the God they were neglecting was the Creator of heaven and earth and all things, and that it was He, who for their sins withheld rain from them. And then when they had destroyed their false prophets as they did, that it was He who sent them the great blessing of rain at the end of three years and six months.
This was something like what Samuel had done in his days, when he wished to convince the people that God was angry at their asking for a king; he prayed to God, and God sent thunder and rain, although at harvest time when such a thing used not to happen naturally.
Such is an instance of the power of prayer, the power of "the fervent prayer of a righteous man.” What encouragement to ask what we will at the hands of the great God! How wonderful that He should listen to man's prayers about the weather! And even more than this, in Joshua's case we read, that “the Lord hearkened to the voice of man," and caused the sun to stand still, while the Israelites finished the work they were engaged in. We must bear in mind that Joshua, Samuel, and Elijah, who prayed such things, were “men of like passions as we are." They are not beyond us as examples, that is to say, we must pray in faith for
things which are desirable, although they seem as difficult to be done, as it was difficult to stop the course of the sun, or to stay the rain and dew from heaven for three years. “All things are possible to him that believeth." “Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believe that ye have it and ye shall
receive it.” All the things that we can want to ask God for, are surely but little things, compared with these great things for which Joshua and Elijah prayed! It is the same God who is rich unto all that call
upon Him. Oh! let us use this great privilege of our's more frequently. Why should there be with us difficulties unremoved ; wants unsupplied ; sins unsubdued ; holiness unattained ?
But trust and confidence in God are still further taught us in what next happened to Elijah. This also is referred to in the New Testament. “Many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; but unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.” (Luke iv. 25, 26.)
Our Lord said this to those unbelieving Jews who would not receive Him as the Great Prophet. He reminded them that even Elijah had not been received by the people of Israel in his days, and that one of the few to whom God sent him as ready to welcome him, was one who was a Gentile and not a Jew, this poor widow ; Zarephath, where she dwelt, being a city of Phoenicia, between Tyre and Sidon.
The reason of Elijah's visit to this
poor woman was, that the Lord sent him to be maintained by her. Elijah must have trusted that in all this time of drought and famine, God would support him. And he did not trust in vain. Directly after Elijah had told Ahab there would be no rain for three years, we read the word of the Lord came unto him: “Get thee hence and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith that is before Jordan, and it shall be that thou shalt drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there." And so it came to pass.
“ The ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning and bread and flesh in the evening, and he drank of the brook."
Then, this source failed, the brook dried up from lack of rain, he was to trust God for another.
So does God ever keep His people's faith in lively exercise. New wants arise that new modes of help may be sought and given. The brook drying up, the ravens are commanded to cease their daily supply, that Elijah may be sustained by another source. The means used in both cases were such as to give God the glory of this help. Who but God could make ravens thus readily