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The theories of Man-Made Global Warming and Man-Made Climate Change have been in the forefront of news cycles for some time now thanks to worshipers of the environment and faux science. The so-called 'data' climate scientists have cited as proof of Global Warming and mankind as its cause have been shown by way of objective analysis to be entirely bogus. Since the Creation (and some would say the Flood), earth's climate has undergone cycles of warming and cooling. But there is no science that establishes causality between climate change and the activity of mankind.
There is, however, at least one biblical example of climate change that scripture attributes directly to a man. That man is the prophet Elijah. Our text is James 5:16b-18:
James 5 reveals how one righteous man's prayer life effected a drastic change in climate, so that the heavens 'on demand' withheld rain for three-and-one-half years and resumed giving rain 'upon request' by the same praying man. Our text is a sword that cuts two ways. First, it provides an INCITEMENT for us to follow the example of Elijah to obtain similar results. Secondly, it levels an INDICTMENT against us for the failure of our prayer lives to effect ANYTHING that approximates change of that magnitude...or ANY change for that matter.
The book of Acts reveals a church vibrant with prayer and Holy Ghost power. The preaching of Peter on the day of Pentecost resulted in 3,000 conversions, wherein those under conviction for their sin of crucifying the Lord of glory cried out for a solution. Stephen and Philip, both preachin' deacons, were likewise filled with faith and the Holy Ghost, exhibiting soul-winning prowess both with crowds and individual encounters. A prayer meeting for an imprisoned Peter dispatched heavenly resources and unlocked prison doors.
The typical church today bears scant resemblance to the early church. Deacons (elders, board members) do not win lost men to Christ. In many cases, neither do their pastors. Wednesday nights are no more than 'token' prayer meetings that involve no praying for an invasion of God's presence. Year after year they conduct business as usual. They are powerless to effect change of ANY kind, spiritual or otherwise. Nevertheless there remains a flashing marquee in James 5 to remind the church the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man can still effect supernatural change upon its spiritual environment. A powerless church need not remain powerless!
In our text, scripture uses two different Greek words to describe “prayer” that avails much. The first is δέησις (deēsis), “a petition born of need (indigence); a supplication.” In the context, the needs are (1) physically sick church members that need healing due to sin-related illnesses, and (2) a spiritually sick Israel, for whom three-and-a-half years of drought was brought to bear through prayer, to accentuate the need for an awakening. It's the second of these needs that provides the basis for this study in man-made climate change.
The verb form of the noun δέησις (prayer) is the verb δέομαι (to pray), whose root is δέω (to bind). The third person singular of δέω is δεῖ, signifying a necessity, a MUST (in the nature of the case). Therefore a spiritually dead man MUST [δεῖ] be born again (John 3:7), the Son of man MUST [δεῖ] be lifted up (3:14) and men MUST [δεῖ] worship God in spirit and in truth (4:24). Understanding the relatedness of these roots is critical to our understanding of prayer. You see, δέησις praying is MUST praying.
If you're in the market for a house and employ the services of a Realtor, he or she is going to sit down with you and ask for three lists: (1) a MUST-have list, (2) a NICE-to-have list, and (3) a BONUS list. Items missing from list #1 are deal-breakers. Items missing from lists #2 and #3 are not deal-breakers. If and when a believer enters into δέησις praying, he's saying; “Lord, I MUST have this for which I'm praying!” For the average church today, abundance of Spirit power and the salvation of sinners are list #3 items. For some, they might even make it to list #2. But with the early church, they were on list #1. In Acts 4:31, we read: “And when they had prayed [δέομαι], the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.” In the face of fierce opposition, boldness to speak the Word was what the apostles knew they MUST have in order to operate effectively. In response, the Lord granted boldness and shook the building in the process. It is perfectly fine to put the shaking of the building on list #3.
The phrase effectual fervent as a modifier of prayer is the predicate nominative form of ἐνεργέω (energeō), “to put forth energy, power, to be operative, at work.” It is present tense. The phrase availeth much is πολύς (polys), an adjective signifying “numerous, abundant, plenteous.” Expanded translation: “A 'must-have' kind of prayer that's continually operative and expending energy (as a pattern of life) yields tangible results and an abundance of them!” As our text reveals, the prophet Elijah is set forth as an example of a righteous man whose praying got things done, including a change in climate that impacted the planet. No matter what passions (human frailties) the believer in this age might experience, Elijah was subject to the same. He had no innate spiritual ability that made him unique as a prayer warrior or better equipped to pray than we are.
The second word used for prayer is προσεύχομαι (proseuchomai), “prayer directed toward God.” The words he prayed earnestly employ a redundancy for effect. The Greek is προσευχῇ προσηύξατο. Literally, scripture says: “with prayer, he prayed.” Elijah was PRAYING while he was praying! In his MUST-have prayer, he petitioned God first for an absence (withholding) of rain. The OT background narrative (1 Kings 17-18) makes clear to me what Elijah had in mind. In the Baal-infested government of Ahab and wife Jezebel, he was convinced Israel MUST have and desperately NEEDED a divine intervention to expose the INFERIORITY of Baal and the SUPERIORITY, yea, the SINGULARITY, of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. When God appeared to Solomon by night after he had filled the Temple with his manifested glory (2 Chronicles 7), the first discipline he listed for a backslidden Israel was: “If I SHUT UP HEAVEN that there be NO RAIN” (7:13). It was now about 150 years later. Elijah knew Israel had incurred enough liability for God to shut up the heavens. So he petitioned God earnestly for what he knew God was already inclined to do. Elijah prayed, and God stopped the rain! Man-made climate change became the order of the day...for the next three-and-a-half years!
Let's think for a moment about 'needs' by considering Revelation 3:17 and these words of Jesus to the church at Laodicea: “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have NEED of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Is it possible for a church to be more obtuse? The church at Loadicea was wallowing in spiritual ignorance, spiritual poverty, spiritual blindness and spiritual nakedness. The word wretched speaks of a callused, insensitive condition. The Lord Jesus is wisdom for our ignorance, riches for our poverty, light for our blindness, righteous clothing for our nakedness. The church at Laodicea had NONE of these things. Jesus, the possessor of these things, was at the door of the church knocking, seeking an entrance and offering these things to his church. Yet in their impoverished state, there was NO FELT NEED for Jesus. It's therefore clear there was no MUST-have prayer taking place in their midst.
We will conclude our study of man-made climate change by making two observations from the background text of 1 Kings 17-18. The first involves the 'barrels' mentioned with regard to both the widow woman (17:12,14,16) and those used to saturate the bullock and altar with water (18:33). The Hebrew word for barrel is the same used for the widow's “handful of meal in a barrel” (17:12) and the Baal prophets' “four barrels” of water (18:33) used to douse Elijah's sacrifice, which they did three times with four barrels for a total of twelve barrels (18:34). The message in the barrels is one of resources—scarce resources. The drought conditions would have made meal and water rare commodities. In the case of the widow, God sustained her meal as a result of obedience. In the case of the prophets of Baal, they were willing to go “all in” for Baal in expending twelve barrels of precious water just to prove the inability of Elijah's God to answer by fire. They were disappointed. The widow was rewarded. God can turn scarce resources into sufficient and often abundant resources when in obedient hands.
The second is the widow's son. James chose to cite Elijah's praying for the stoppage of rain and its resumption three-and-a-half years later as an example of effectual fervent prayer offered up by a righteous man. He could have just as easily cited an event that took place within those bookends. The widow's son fell sick and stopped breathing (18:17). All indications are he died. So Elijah took his body up into a loft where his bed was (18:19), and began to pour out his heart to God. In 18:21-22, we read:
Was this not effectual fervent prayer? The same righteous man whose prayers stopped and opened the heavens brought revival—the dead raised back to life—to the widow's son. The relevant question we must all ask ourselves is: “What lifeless entity in our lives needs reviving?” Are we willing, as Elijah was, to STRETCH OURSELVES over that lifeless thing as long as it takes for God to revive it? It might be a family member, a marriage, a church member or perhaps a pastor, whose lifeless sermonizing is killing your church. The average church in America today is in no better condition (in spiritual terms) that the lifeless body of the widow's son...or the Loadicean church for that matter. Make no mistake! If your church seldom if ever sees a sinner believe and find life in Christ, you belong to a Laodicean church. The key to revival remains the same. It's going to require righteous men and women willing to stretch themselves out in prayer over their church until God breathes life into it.
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. It made the prophet Elijah the poster child for man-made climate change. It challenges each of us to identify the spiritual climate we would like to see God change where we live. The church in America needs an abundance of spiritual rain and an infusion of spiritual life. To reaffirm an earlier point, these NEEDS should be on our MUST-have list. And only the effectual fervent prayers of righteous men can bring them to pass! Will you be among them?