Maintaining Circumspect Expectancy for the Spirit
in a Time of Drought
I Kings 18:41 Now Elijah said to Ahab, "Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of the roar of a heavy shower." 42 So … Elijah went up to the top of Carmel; and he crouched down on the earth and put his face between his knees. 43 He said to his servant, "Go up now, look toward the sea." So he went up and looked and said, "There is nothing." And he said, "Go back," seven times. 44 It came about at the seventh time, that he said, "Behold, a cloud as small as a man's hand is coming up from the sea." And he said, "Go up, say to Ahab, 'Prepare your chariot and go down, so that the heavy shower does not stop you.'"
James 5:7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. 8 You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. …10 As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 We count those blessed who endured. … 16 …The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. 18 Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.
We are at a very critical time in world history relative to God’s will for the age-ending outpouring of His Spirit. A few thoughts based in the story of Elijah are necessary for perspective on what we are looking for in this and the context in which it comes.
The emphasis in the above passages is on patience. Here, we are talking about prophetic patience. The spiritual rain that is to come to us associated with the coming of the Lord comes as part of a drawn out process that requires the outworking of certain events through repeated cycles of intercession. This outworking is typified in James by the patience of a farmer whom he ties to Elijah’s prayer for rain, yet in context of expectation for the Lord’s return. So let’s take a quick overview of the contextual events prophetically portrayed by Elijah to see what we can learn.
In the big overview, there are three events in the Elijah story that finally eventuate in the rainfall. First there is the drought, which Elijah himself prophesied. Then in the middle is the showdown at Carmel. And finally there is the rainfall after Carmel, also brought forth by Elijah’s intercession.
Embracing the Three Phases of the Elijah Spirit
The first thing we have to see is that Elijah is at the center of all three phases of this story. This has meaning for the Elijah spirit of our end times. Elijah prayed for the drought. Elijah presided at the falling of God’s fire and the killing of Baal’s prophets at Carmel. And Elijah prayed for the returning rainfall. This entire course was unforeseen yet was encapsulated in Elijah’s original declaration to Ahab, "As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word."
The Elijah spirit is indeed in the earth again in our times. And in that spirit armies of intercessors have been praying for revival, which we understand to be the outpouring of the Spirit. But in much of this praying there has been little understanding of the larger picture, specifically an understanding of the first two pieces of the prophetic story.
The first piece of the story has to do with why there is a drought in the first place. The reason there is a spiritual drought is because the Elijah spirit--in the form of wilderness prophets and apostles--has been declaring the judgment of God for decades on the land for its sins, and especially for the sins of the church itself. The Elijah that prays in the rain is the Elijah that first declares the drought.
We have talked oft before about the competing prophetic camps in the body of Christ. There have been John-the-Baptist types calling down judgment on America and the nations because of sin, with no view to rain ever coming. And there has been a mainstream prophetic interceding for revival and restoration with no view to the necessity of the judgment, in fact, ignorantly denying that judgment has already come.
The truth is that, though these camps have been opposed in understanding each other’s legitimacy, both are in fact legitimate expressions of the Elijah spirit in their season. God has indeed been calling down judgment on the nations eventuating in the spiritual drought producing the famine for hearing the word of God we have experienced so long. God has also been raising up intercessors to pray for rain. But the lack of understanding the complete scenario has to be outworked.
From here, let’s look at the middle piece of the story: the showdown at Mt. Carmel. Before the drought can end, there has to be a showdown between the Elijah spirit and the spirit of Jezebel with her prophets of Baal. Before Elijah ever prayed for rain, he had to first pray for fire. We are talking about a fire that not merely affirms the identity of the true God, but whose witness leads to the slaughter of the false prophets.
Jesus Himself reveals to us His seriousness about dealing with this in the church when He writes to Thyatira:
Rev. 2:20 'But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 'I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. 22 'Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. 23 'And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.
This is something that revivalist intercessors must come to grips with. There will be no outpouring of the Holy Spirit until the Baal worship in the church has been exposed for what it is and the false prophets have been executed out of the midst of the church. That’s something to think about. There is no use in praying for rain without first praying for God’s jealous fire to fall:
“A fire goes before Him, and burns up all His enemies…” (Ps. 97:3)
How many untold tens of thousands that have sung that song (“The Lord Reigns”) over the last 30 years have entered into the Elijah-class intercession that brings this fire about? Where is the vision for this anywhere?
So these are the first things on which we must have prophetic circumspection if we are engaged in praying for the Spirit’s outpouring. The mature Elijah spirit understands all three phases and elements of this divine pattern, is shy to none, and will vigorously intercede for all three in perspective.
Enduring Expectancy in the Face of Contrarian Experience
On understanding these three phases ahead of our prayer for God’s rain, we must also understand the role of patient endurance in our intercession for the Spirit’s outpouring in fulfilment of God’s word. The other day, the Lord spoke the words to my heart, “You must stay focused on My Word, not on your experience.”
What does this mean? Well, if we look at the story of Elijah’s intercession for rain, and at what James had to emphasize about that, then we have to understand that, no matter how long it takes, no matter what our experience is at the present, we must stay focused on the target of obtaining the rain.
This “agricultural endurance” as James paints it is specifically seen in Elijah’s intercession wherein a cycle of contrarian experiences is first encountered ahead of the actual appearance of the rain.
So here’s how it goes down:
Elijah starts to pray for however long. He then tells his servant to go check the western horizon for sign of the rain. (This is the expectancy.) The servant goes, however far away to see the horizon, only to return to report there is no rain. (This is the contrarian experience.) So then, the cycle repeats. Elijah prays further for however long. He then sends the servant to look, however far away, and the same report comes back. Nothing.
This original cycle has to be repeated seven times (for a total of eight times) before there is any evidence of the development of rain, which evidence starts out only as a small cloud.
Are we starting to get this, then? Intercession for the outpouring of God’s Spirit in these end times and otherwise for any situation requires patient endurance of a series of “eight” cycles involving expectancy and contrarian experience before that to which God’s word has spoken may begin evidencing its fulfilment. See and understand further that even the evidence must develop once it begins to form. It must gather strength before it comes forth in the promised and expected downpour!
The question is, can we maintain expectancy in the face of the cycles of non-return experience? Well, if we believe in the end time spirit of Elijah and that we have a part in that spirit, then we have no choice but to maintain expectancy! We must not focus on our initial contrarian experiences which evidence no rain, no answer, no deliverance, no change in our situation and in the church to come.
Stay the course! The rain will come. The answer will come. The word will be fulfilled. But we must understand it is not enough to just declare the word. We have to grasp the cycles of travailing intercession assigned to that word. Yes, Elijah said, “there will be no rain except at my word.” But see what had to accompany the word! He couldn’t just declare it. He had to pray it through its cycles into being. He had to “birth” it into being. That is how the word of God comes forth in the earth. It is by birth. It is by harvest.
Needed: An Elijah "Time Convergence"
From time to time, science fiction stories fascinated with time paint a scenario where a single character encounters a "time field distortion" in which he sees himself in two or three time dimensions just seconds apart. It is the same character, but appearing as two or three characters near simultaneously, and they have to figure out which one of them is in the "correct time" to seal the time field breach affecting the universe to where they too can merge back into the one character.
While this is fiction, there is some spiritual truth to it when it comes to the Elijah prophetic. For today's prophetic suffers from a similar sort of time field distortion which creates a divided Elijah power, preventing the Elijah spirit from manifesting as a single unified force in the earth ahead of the Lord's return.
Throughout this three-phase operation of declaration of drought, execution of the prophets of Jezebel, and the cyclical prayer for the restoration of rain, Elijah himself is undergoing testing and purging and perfecting. In the same way, the Lord is putting the bearers of the divided Elijah spirit to the grindstone of perfection, desirous to remove the competitive distortion of that spirit in the end times church and to bring forth a completed dynamic that will bring forth the rain for which we all long.
This article then presents a panorama of what the Father wants to accomplish in all who consider themselves as prophetic voices in the church ahead of the Lord's coming. May we find order and attunement of heart to all the phases of Elijah in their "correct time," and then be able to follow through in the cycles of enduring intercession necessary to bring forth the patiently awaited rain of Spirit that sets up the church for final birthing of a glorified Bridal people fully ready to meet the returning Groom.
"Lord, teach us how to declare drought, execute false prophets, give enduring birth to the clouds of Your restoring rain, and in this process how to integrate as one with all your true prophets, sealing the time field distortion among us."
New Meadow Neck, Rhode Island
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page created December 21, 2017