And Elijah said unto Ahab? Get thee up, eat and drink: for there is a sound of abundance of rain. So Ahab went up to eat and to 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? And said to his servant? Go up now, look toward the sea. And he went up, and looked, and said? There is nothing. And he said, Go again seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh timey that he said, Behold? there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea? like a man’s hand. And he said, Go up, say unto Ahab, Prepare thy chariot, and get thee downy that the min stop thee not. And it came to pass in the meanwhile, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain, etc. 1 Kings 18:41-46

Get thee up!

Omighty king of Israel, get thee up, eat and drink!

There is reason now no longer to be dejected and to fast, for the theodicy has come, and the people of Israel have acknowledged that Jehovah, and not Baal, is God.

And to this theodicy belong blessings from heaven upon them that fear the Lord and acknowledge His Godhead, and confess His name. The judgment of the drought is past, and Jehovah will reveal Himself to His people by sending rain upon the land.

Get thee up, Ahab, for the sound of the people’s shout that Jehovah is God is already followed by another sound, that of an abundance of rain!

Arise, eat and drink!

Participate in the rejoicing of this glorious day of judgment, O, sovereign of Israel!

Rejoice with thine own people, and join in with their shouts that Jehovah is God! Rejoice with them, as they take vengeance upon the powers of darkness and opposition to God’s covenant, and slay the prophets of Baal at the brook Kishon! If, O king, it be impossible for thee to take the lead in these matters, as thou shouldest, at least turn with thy subjects away from the service of the dumb idol to the worship of the living God. . . .

Even though Carmel’s victory is only apparent, even though the repentance and return of the people to Jehovah is merely external, yet, it belongs to the significance of this clay, that thou, too, O king! be inspired by the zeal of thy people to prophesy with them:

Jehovah, He is God! Jehovah, He is God!

But at all events, rejoice, for there is a sound of abundance of rain!

Get thee up, then!

Eat and drink!

Apparently Ahab repented.

Not, indeed, with true sorrow after God, but, nevertheless, with the sorrow of the world, which, in outward show often resembles, even surpasses genuine repentance.

Between the two there is, in reality, a profound difference.

For the sorrow after God is rooted in the love of God, the sorrow of the world is a weed that springs from the root of self-love. The former is a sorrow that is concerned about sin itself, the latter is anxious about the evil consequences of sin. Sorrow after God is hatred of sin, sorrow of the world merely dreads sin’s wages. He that is filled with the sorrow of true repentance cannot rest until he has received the assurance of forgiveness, and knows that he is once more the object of God’s favor and lovingkindness; but worldly sorrow only seeks to escape the punishment, knowing nothing, and caring not at all, about the sweetness of God’s grace. Godly sorrow becomes manifest in a turning away from the path of sin, and in an earnest desire and endeavor to keep all the commandments of God; but the sorrow of the world is still love of darkness, and would indulge in the pleasure of sin without limit, if only it could do so with impunity.

Yet, as the tares resemble the wheat in the same field, and as the obnoxious weed usually is like the plant near which it grows, so to the eye of man, true and counterfeit repentance may, for a time, appear the same.

To all appearances Ahab repented on Carmel.

Subsequent history shows but too clearly that, although the revelation on Carmel made a profound impression on the wicked king, it did not move him to true repentance. When God’s judgments are passed, Ahab returns to his evil ways. But how he could humble himself outwardly under the mighty hand of God! If he hoped that it might move the Lord to pity, and to turn His fierce wrath and judgments away from him, he did not hesitate to go in sackcloth and ashes! And the mighty revelation of Jehovah’s glory on Mount Carmel, and that, too, as the climax of the terrible judgment of the drought that had ravaged the land, might well strike fear and terror into the heart of the wicked sovereign.

What a day it had been!

A day of the Lord!

The mighty power of the living God had been manifested, and the utter defeat of B*aal and his representatives had been accomplished!

And the king had been witness of it all!

An attitude of humility he had assumed. It is true, the text does not inform us in so many words that he had repented, or even that he assumed an attitude of repentance. He had not taken an active part in the activities of the day. Rather does it appear that he kept himself aloof, taking the part, neither of the priests of Baal, nor of the lonely prophet of Jehovah, but silently awaiting the outcome of it all. When the fire had flashed from heaven upon the prayer of Elijah and had consumed the sacrifice completely, and the people had fallen on their faces shouting: “Jehovah, He is God!” the king had not been fired by their enthusiasm, nor joined in with their confession, but still retained the attitude of a silent witness.

And yet, both from his attitude, and from that of the prophet toward him, it would seem that the king humbled himself.

For, first of all, the words of the prophet addressed to the sovereign plainly suggest that the latter, as he witnessed the activities of the day, had sat upon the ground all day in an attitude of dejection and humility. What is more, it is evident from Elijah’s exhortation to eat and drink that he had fasted all the day long. And whatever may have been his own reason for the fast, certain it is that fasting was a form of humiliation and repentance. And so the prophet appears to interpret these signs. For he that had always been a messenger of wrath and judgment to the king, now assumes a kindly attitude toward him, invites him to arise, urges him to break his fast, and, what is more, brings him the message that the days of wrath and judgment are past, and that the Lord will send rain on the earth!

The wicked pride of the king appeared to be broken.

And tacitly he had confessed that Jehovah is God!

So much, at least, may be said for the king in connection with the slaying of the priests of Baal at the brook Kishon. It is true that this had been accomplished at the command of the prophet, and through the zeal of the moment evinced by the multitude that had been witness of the power and glory of Jehovah. Even in this, the king had taken no active part. Yet, it had been done with the sovereign’s silent consent. This was but inevitable, unless he had interfered and protected the false prophets, Jezebel’s favorites, against the zeal of the prophet and the wrath of the people. His, and not the prophet’s, was the sword power. To remain silent when the prophet commanded the people to slay the priests of Baal, was to consent to their death. Moreover, the fact that he had brought them to the mount at the command of the prophet, made him doubly responsible for their lives. Nor may it be said that the king was helpless against the enthusiasm and anger of the people, and over against the predominating power of the prophet, for it is hardly conceivable that he had gone to Carmel without some representation of his mighty men of war.

He had consented to their death.

And by this consent he had confessed that they were false prophets, that led the people of Israel astray, and who, therefore, according to the law of Moses, were worthy of death.

Outwardly the king repented, and had taken sides with the cause of the Lord.

And so the prophet explains the king’s present attitude.

For not only does he speak kindly to him, and hold before him the promise of abundance of rain, but he prays that the anger of the Lord may be turned away, and that the heavens may be opened to bring rain upon the land.

He who, filled with the zeal for Jehovah’s name and covenant, and with holy indignation at the iniquity of the king, had earnestly beseeched the Lord, in the wilds of Gilead, three years and a half ago, that the Lord might withhold the rain, now prays for the return of God’s mercy upon the king and the people!

The victory of Carmel was, outwardly at least, complete!

The opposition was crushed!

The people had confessed that Jehovah is God alone! Arid the king appeared humbled!

Fervent prayer of the righteous!

“And Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees”. . . .

Beautiful, God extolling prayer of the righteous!

For, even though the words of this prayer of the prophet on the top of Carmel are not recorded, we know that it was motivated by the zeal for the glory of the Lord, and that it aimed at the magnification of Jehovah’s name before the king and all the people.

And what else is prayer?

What else can be its purpose than that the name of the Most High, Who is our Father for Christ’s sake, may be sanctified and receive all the glory?

O, if rain and prosperity had been the object in view of the prophet when he went to the top of the mountain, and assumed an attitude of fervent prayer, it might have been judged a vain show. For was it not already certain that the Lord would send rain, even before the prophet went up to pray? Had not the word of the Lord come to the prophet, when he was still with the widow of Zarephath: “Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth”? And had not even now the prophet assured the king of Israel that already there was a sound of abundance of rain? Why, then, should the prophet ascend to the top of the mountain to beseech the Lord for that which had been surely promised, and which was even now approaching?

But the name of Jehovah must be acknowledged by His servant.

Even now, it must become manifest that Elijah is only a servant, and that it is Jehovah, before whom he stands, that not only sent the drought, but who also opens the windows of heaven to send rain upon the earth.

Hence, before the eyes of the king and of all the people, the prophet humbles himself and prays for the promised blessing.

Fervent and righteous is this prayer of the prophet. Fervent it is, as is indicated by the very posture of the servant of Jehovah, as he sits on the ground with his face between his knees, not because he feels that he must persuade the Lord by much speaking and urgent pleading to grant him his petition, but because he is wholly motivated by the zeal of Jehovah’s name and cause, and is wholly absorbed, with all his heart and mind and soul, in the presence of the Most High. And righteous is his prayer, for, although it is, no doubt, a plea that the Lord may send abundance of rain upon the parched earth, it is not the rain, but the manifestation of the power and glory of the Lord that is the purpose of the prayer. And although we know not the words of this prayer, we may well surmise that the plea was based on God’s own Word and covenant, and that it brought into remembrance the people’s repentance and acknowledgement that Jehovah is God alone, as well as the fact that He had accepted their sacrifice by fire from heaven.

And Jehovah hears and answers!

Rain He sends for His own Name’s sake, in the way of His covenant, and for those that keep His commandments to do them!

For what else might be the meaning of the number seven in this connection? The prophet prays, and sends his servant to watch the heavens for the Lord’s answer, but there is nothing. ..Six times he prays and sends his servant, and still there is no sign of rain. But when he returns the seventh time, the servant reports a cloud as a man’s hand. And soon the heavens are black with clouds, and the rain descends in torrents.

In the way of His covenant Jehovah sends rain!

Blessing them indeed that fear His name!

And in answer to the prayer of the righteous that availeth much!

Beautiful prayer!

Marvelous sign!

In torrents of rain the prophet runs before the chariot of the king!

Through his servant the prophet had sent the message to. Ahab urging him to prepare his chariot and to hasten away to Jezreel.

Then the hand of the Lord is strong upon His servant, so that he is able to overtake the speeding horses of the king’s chariot, and run before them all the way to the gates of Jezreel, a distance of more than fourteen miles!

Nor is this a vain show.

For as it is in the strength of Jehovah that the prophet runs before the chariot of the king, it is the Lord Who here creates a sign, and through the sign delivers a last Word to the wicked sovereign.

Positively, it is a demonstration of the proper relation between the king of Israel and the prophet of Jehovah, between the throne and the law, between the scepter and the Word of Israel’s God. That prophet must take the lead, and the king must follow; that law he must heed, and according to it he must rule; that Word of the Lord he must hear, and in its way he must walk. And in this light there was still much to do for the king. The revelation of Carmel must be followed up, the service of Baal must be rooted out, Jezebel must be killed. . . .

But woe unto the king, if he fails and returns to his wicked way!

For even as that prophet, so the Word of Jehovah runs very swiftly!

Never will he escape its terrible judgment!

Mighty Word!