And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” — 1 Kings 18:41
The Torah portion for this week is Pinchas, which means “Phinehas,” from Numbers 25:10–30:1, and the Haftorah is from 1 Kings 18:46–19:21.
Several years ago, Israel experienced one of the driest winters on record. It was significant because here in the Middle East, if the rain doesn’t come in the winter months, it won’t fall at all. Yet, just as winter had faded away, and with it all hopes of rain, the country was blessed with one final great rain. It was as if God were saying, “Never despair. Even when it looks like it may never rain again, I can still make it pour!”
In this week’s Haftorah reading, we learn about another time when there was a drought in the Holy Land. In fact, this story takes place in the third year of a severe drought. God had sent the drought because of the evil that Ahab, the king of Israel, had spread throughout the land. The people were heavily involved in idolatry and all kinds of ungodly activities. Finally, in the third year God said enough was enough. He told the prophet Elijah to announce that the rain was on its way.
As instructed, Elijah conveyed the news to Ahab and told him, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.”
Now, it wasn’t raining yet. The ground was just as parched as it had been and there was not a cloud in the sky. But Elijah knew that the rain was coming. He could hear the storm approaching even though it was still miles away.
I can imagine what Ahab must have been thinking: “That rain won’t come! It’s a dry sunny day!” Scripture tells us that Elijah sent out his servant six times to check the sea for signs of rain. Nothing. Then, finally on the seventh time, the servant reported that he had seen a tiny cloud, about the size of a man’s hand. That was all Elijah needed for confirmation that a downpour was imminent. He told Ahab, “Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you” (v. 44).
Again, I can imagine Ahab laughing at the thought of rain with just a whisper of a cloud in the sky. However, not long after, “the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling” (v. 45) and Ahab rode home in the pouring rain.
Friends, we need to remember this story when we are in a dry season of our own lives. Sometimes it may seem like the drought will go on forever – we’ll never get out of debt, we’ll never feel good again, never find the right mate, and so forth. However, God can create a downpour of blessings in our lives in a single instant. Don’t get depressed about how things may look right now; instead get ready for the blessings that are already on their way.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President