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  • Writer's pictureLynn Holzinger

God's Prophet, Elijah, Predicts a Drought

Now Elijah, who was from Tishbe in Gilead...

1 Kings 17:1a

Meet Elijah! He is a prophet of God whose ministry took place during King Ahab and Queen Jezabel's reign. We hear nothing of this prophet until he strides into the king and queen's court one day and announces it will not rain again until he gives the word. Elijah is not timid, and He gets straight to the point: "As surely as the Lord, the God of Israel, lives--the God I serve--there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!" One sentence and he was done. But in Elijah's one sentence, he said a lot:

  • God lives--He is not dead, and He has not disappeared. He's not hiding or cowering in fear. He is very much alive, and He is active right now, right here!

  • He is the God I serve--and I will speak His words and carry out His directives. And you will soon find out that what I am saying is true.

  • There will be no dew or rain 'til I give the word--and you will know that Elohim is the one true God!

The Bible doesn't tell us how Ahab responded or if Jezebel, was with him. We don't know when God told Elijah to go to Ahab or if He did tell him. We aren't told beforehand why God was sending a drought or if Elijah gave any thought to what might happen to him for speaking so bluntly. We only know that Elijah did go and what he said to Ahab. I will attempt to answer some of the questions


Was Elijah tired of the wickedness he saw? Did he take matters into his own hands when he confronted Ahab? Sometimes Christians do that in their zeal for God. The Bible doesn't say God told Elijah to go to Ahab, but when you look at verse two, the Lord starts talking to him and you certainly get the idea that God is behind this pronouncement. At other times during Elijah's ministry, you see him praying to and depending solely on God for the miraculous things that happen. So there is no reason to think that Elijah acted independently, with an expectation that God would follow his lead. So why did Elijah go to Ahab and predict there would be no rain? It's safe to conclude he did it because God, at some point, told him to and gave him the authority to speak.

But what if Elijah had acted on his own? What if his zealousness for God's name led him to confront the king, or he believed his faith was all God needed? Should God send a drought because Elijah's motives were good? Or his faith was strong? When believers move ahead of God and act on their own, should they expect God to go along with what they are doing? Should God empower them and make them successful? After all, they are fighting against the corruption they see. But put yourself in Elijah's shoes. Does anyone think God should send a drought based on Elijah's idea of how to fight evil and prove that God is real? Yet, many Christians today operate in this way. They say it's faith that causes God to act. But over and over in Scripture, we see a sovereign God doing what He says He will do, not what others want Him to do based on their faith for what they're asking. Faith is important. Faith is what enabled Elijah to speak so boldly and declare that God was alive. Faith is why Elijah served the living God with confidence.


To answer this question, you must look back to what had become of the nation of Israel under the influence of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel. Before Ahab, the kings were also corrupt, but Ahab did even more evil than any of the other kings (1 Kings 16:30). God raised Elijah up at this time to confront the wickedness that had taken over and to reassert the supremacy of Himself as the true God.

When Ahab became king, he married Jezebel, daughter of King Ethbaal of Sidon (16:31). Jezebel brought Baal and Asherah worship to Israel, and it replaced the worship of the true God in Samaria (equivalent to Jerusalem in Judah). Many of the prophets of Baal and Asherah ate at Jezebel's table (18:19). And Ahab's evil behavior was attributed to his being "under the influence of his wife Jezebel" (21:25). In Revelation 2:20, we find another Jezebel who called herself a prophetess and seduced the Christians in Thyatira to commit sexual sins and eat things sacrificed to idols. Today, Jezebel's name is often used for an evil, plotting, perverse, immoral woman. Because that pretty much describes Queen Jezebel.

Baal was the Canaanite rain and fertility god, and Asherah was Baal's mother. Later in the story, it would be even more evident that Baal was impotent in his ability to make it rain when Elijah challenges the prophets of Baal. Baal and Asherah were false gods, and the true God, Elohim, would make Himself known. Only the One True God controls the rain.

Why would God send a drought at this time? Two reasons:

  1. God made it clear that famine could be one of the consequences of being unfaithful to Him by worshiping other gods (Ez 14:12-14); because He, the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God (Ex 34:14). But God is patient, not wanting any to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Pet 3:9). It would be God who decided when enough was enough, not Elijah. Ahab was the 7th evil king in the northern kingdom and each king was said to be more evil than any of the kings before them. But God waited, wanting Israel to repent. Only God knows the right time for giving a well-deserved consequence for disobedience and rebellion. God raised up Elijah for a purpose at a particular time to listen to Him and be obedient. We need to remember that God knows the right time for everything. Because of the drought, famine was inevitable, and in 1 Kings 18:2, we see the famine had become very severe in Samaria.

  2. Since Baal was the supposed god of rain, drought was a sure way for God to show His supremacy over the false gods. And as my NLT note says, "Elijah withheld the dew and rain as a direct affront to Baal."


You don't get the idea that Elijah was afraid. He comes across as bold, confident, and sure of the God he serves. If God says He is sending a drought, what better way for Elijah to tell the king than to march right in and tell him directly. If God says it will be at Elijah's word the rain will come again, then he will say it like it is, knowing His God is in control. I don't know if Elijah thought of the fact that his life would be in danger. But God did. After Elijah's pronouncement to Ahab, God sent Elijah to the Brook Cherith, east of the Jordan.


We are living in a time similar to what it was like in Elijah's day. And just like God was in control then, He is now, and He will decide when enough is enough. A day is coming when God will pour out His wrath on the earth because God cannot overlook sin, nor will He continue to let it go on forever. That's why He sent His Son to pay the price, "For God didn't appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through His Son, Jesus" (1 Thess 5:9). The book of Revelation tells us of the things that will happen to those who reject His Son. He is patient right now, wanting people to repent (2 Pet 3:9), but the Bible is as clear about what will happen to those who reject His Son just as Elijah was in what he said to Ahab.

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