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The example of Elijah’s prayer in James 5:17-18


James 5:17-18 “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 land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.”

Pleading against the idolatry the nation slipped into, Elijah prayed that it might not rain. It did not rain for three years and six months (1 Kings 17:1). We find this to also the length of the two witnesses testimony against Israel in the tribulation period.

Rev. 11:6: “These have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy; and they have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire.”

Some believe these two men are Moses and Elijah, it is more understandable to view it as two other men who are liken to Moses and Elijah in their miracles.

In Revelation 11:6 we see this same concept referenced where these two witnesses (who are not named) exercise power to shut heaven that it does not rain. Does this prove one of the witnesses is Elijah? No, not anymore than the other is Moses because water can turn to blood. The Bible mentions them both doing this, not each one doing this one thing. What it is showing is God is dealing with Israel and the world as He did before. At this time there is a world leader as Pharaoh and Israel is being oppressed. These prophets are there to bring repentance to a nation. In the end both will be slain and raised up in front the world as the last testimony to Christs resurrection.

We have this principle and promise in 2 Chron. 6:25-27 "then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of Your people Israel, and bring them back to the land which You gave to them and their fathers. "When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against You, when they pray toward this place and confess Your name, and turn from their sin because You afflict them, "then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your servants, Your people Israel, that You may teach them the good way in which they should walk; and send rain on Your land which You have given to Your people as an inheritance.”

In James 5:15 the context is praying in faith, that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

The point of James is that God answer a saints prayer, not just Elijahs who is a prophet; for we all have the same human nature. That God answered his prayer and took away rain and He also answered his prayer to restore the rain which blessed the crops; as long as the saint is praying in the will, purpose for God to answer (he gives the example of afflictions in the prophets as well as Job).

James 5:19 -20: “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”

He ends this with the example applied to those who (who are deceived), have left the faith, the gospel and forsook the fellowship as motivation for us to not neglect them or write them off. That by reaching this person he will not continue to be dead in his trespasses or physically judged (save a soul from death), and the sins he has done will be rectified by his repentance and a renewed walk. In other words this chapter is about patience as well as action, to continue doing good, to focus on the brethren that are among you as well as those who have left, which ends James letter speaking on faith translated into works.

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