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3964
“Rain at Last!”
by Morning Meditation   
October 20th, 2008

We can, to a very inadequate degree, realize the horrors of an Eastern drought. And it would have been difficult in the parched land on which Elijah gazed from Carmel, to have recognized that garden of the Lord of which Moses said: "The LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it" (Deuteronomy 8:7,9).

But beside this exquisite delineation, Moses had been given a description of the certain calamities that would ensue if Israel went aside from any of the words which God commanded, to the right hand or to the left. And among other items of misery, it was expressly stated that the heaven overhead should be brass, and the earth underfoot iron, and the very rain should be transformed to powder and dust (Deuteronomy 28:23-24). This terrible prediction had now been literally fulfilled. And the anguish of the land was directly attributable to the apostasy of its people. All this was the result of sin. The iniquities of Israel had separated between them and their God. Elijah knew this, and it prompted him to act the part of executioner to the priests of Baal. They had been the ringleaders in the national revolt from God, but their bodies now lay in ghastly death on the banks of the Kishon, or were being hurried out to sea.

Ahab must have stood by Elijah in the Kishon gorge, an unwilling spectator of that fearful deed of vengeance, not daring to resist the outburst of popular indignation or attempt to shield the men whom he had himself encouraged and introduced. When the last priest had bitten the dust, Elijah turned to the king and said, "Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain" (1 Kings 18:41). It was as if he said, "Get thee up to where thy tents are pitched on yon broad upland sweep; the feast is spread in thy gilded pavilion; thy lackeys await thee; feast thee on thy dainties; but be quick! for now that the land is rid of these traitor priests, and God is once more enthroned in His rightful place, the showers of rain cannot be longer delayed. Can you not hear the sough of the western breeze, which shall soon become a hurricane? Be quick! or the rain may interrupt thy carouse."

What a contrast between these two men! "Ahab went up to eat and drink. And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees" (1 Kings 18:42). It is no more than we might have expected of the king. When his people were suffering the extremities of drought, he cared only to find grass enough to save his stud. Now, though his faithful priests had died by hundreds, he thought only of the banquet that awaited him in his pavilion. Cruel, cowardly, mean, and sensual are the least epithets we can apply to this worthless man, clad though he was with he royal robes of Israel. I think I can see Ahab and Elijah ascending those heights together: no sympathy, no common joy, no reciprocated {88} thanksgiving. The king turns straight off to his tents while the servant of God climbs to the highest part of the mountain and finds an oratory at the base of a yet higher spur from which a marvelous view could be obtained of the broad expanse of the Mediterranean, which slept under the growing stillness of the coming night.

Such contrasts still reveal themselves. Crises reveal the secrets of men's hearts and show of what stuff they are made. The children of this world will spend their days in feasting, and their nights in revelry, though a world is rushing down to ruin. If only they can eat and drink, they are regardless of the needs of the perishing and the judgments of God. Such feasted with Belshazzar when the foe was at the gates of Babylon. Such filled with the frivolities the royal apartments of Whitehall when William of Orange was landing at Tor Bay. And woe to the land when such men rule! The sequence between the sensual luxury of the rulers and the decadence of the nation was well pointed out by Isaiah when he said: "Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that tarry late into the night, till wine inflame them! And the harp and the lute, the tabret and the pipe, and wine, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the LORD, neither have they considered the operation of his hands. Therefore my people are gone into captivity" (Isaiah 5:11-13 RV). May our beloved country be preserved from having such leaders as these! And may our youth be found, not garlanded and scented for the Ahab feasts, but with Elijah on the bleak uplands; where there may be no dainty viands, but where the air is fresh, and life is free, and the spirit is braced to noble deeds. F. B. Meyer

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