Orange sunset in Armidale, New South Wales, Australia

Background Text: 1 Kings 17-18

Devotional Text: James 5:17-18

“I will move heaven and earth” is a common phrase meaning that a person will use all his or her resources in trying their hardest to get a job done.

To look at this phrase literally, however, we have to recognize that reversing the laws of nature brings us to the only one who can actually move both the heavens and the earth, and that person is our God.

In showing God’s authority over earth and sky, today I’d like to begin with a couple of stories from the Old Testament found in 1 and 2 Kings, beginning with the story of King Hezekiah in 2 Kings 20:1-11.

Hezekiah was the 13th king after King David, and he ruled for 29 years. He began his rule at the age of 25, and his reign lasted from 716-697 BC.

We find these words concerning the kingship of Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18: “(He) did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father (ancestor) David had done.”

Hezekiah was a true believer in God, and Scripture tells us he was the best king to arise in a century of kingly reign.

As we come to chapter 20, we learn that Hezekiah has fallen ill. In this chapter, the prophet Isaiah proclaimed to Hezekiah there would be no healing. Facing death, Hezekiah prayed to God, weeping bitterly, reminding God of his righteousness before his Lord.

Hearing his prayer and seeing his tears, God touched Isaiah, having him return to the king’s chamber in order to reverse the news of death.

The prophet Isaiah told Hezekiah that God would not only heal him but would give him another 15 years to live.

This is the part where God will give the king a sign to seal his promise. Isaiah asked Hezekiah if he would like God to move the shadow from the stairway of Ahab forward 10 steps or backwards 10 steps.

Before continuing, it’s important to know about the place at the temple known as the stairway of Ahab. This stairway worked as a sundial, as the shadow of the sun would move down the steps as time progressed throughout the day.

In answer to Isaiah’s question, Hezekiah reasoned that to move the shadow forward 10 steps would not be as dramatic a sign as having the shadow retreat 10 steps. In essence, the sun would not be continuing its cyclical movement forward, but it would be moving back, higher into the sky.

Verse 11 tells us what happened when Isaiah addressed the Lord, “he called upon the Lord, and the Lord made the shadow go back the 10 steps it had already gone down on the stairway of Ahab.”

What a great God we have. His love for us goes even beyond natural laws. As God showed his love for Hezekiah, God still shows his love for us each day.

The question is, do we believe it?

In our next example, we turn to God’s changing the earthly laws of nature in 1 Kings during the reign of Ahab and the prophet Elijah. His purpose in this section of Scripture was to prove to the people that he was their one true God, their God who would answer them in times of need, their God who was always faithful, steadfast and true.

Prior to reading of how God changed the laws of nature, it’s helpful to know something about King Ahab, and what Elijah was up against. In 1 Kings 16:30, we read, “Ahab, son of Omri, did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him.”

Then there was Elijah, one of the most important prophets of the Old Testament.

It was Elijah who spoke these words from the Lord to King Ahab in 1 Kings 17:1, “As the Lord, God of Israel lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except by my word,” (see also James 5:17-18).

Later, Elijah received word from God in chapter 18, telling him that if he will meet with King Ahab, God will end the drought. As Elijah does so, we come upon more Scriptures that deal with God changing the laws of nature to prove that he is the one true God.

In this story, verses 22-39, Elijah has asked Ahab and his hundreds of false prophets, to meet him on Mount Carmel. It is here that Elijah gives the words from God to all the people. They must stop being deceitful, believing one way and then another. They must come to believe in the one true God or believe in the false god Baal.

In order to prove which one was truly God, two bulls are brought in for sacrifice. Elijah tells the false prophets that the test is this — whichever God would answer the prayers of the prophets to bring down fire to consume the sacrifice would be the true God.

This is the outcome. When the worshipers of the false god had prepared their bull for sacrifice, they proceeded to shout to their god all morning, til noon, then midday to evening, for their god to send fire to consume the bull. It never happened. No god. No fire. Nothing.

Then Elijah prepared his bull, but not only that, he also asked that four large jugs of water be poured over the sacrifice three times, drenching the whole area.

Then, Elijah called on the true God to send fire to consume the sacrifice. Not only did God do so immediately, but the fire burned the wood, the stones and the soil around the altar, including where the water had dripped down into trenches.

Seeing for themselves the act of the one true God, the people bowed down to the Lord, God of Israel, and that day made their decision to worship him and him only.

Finally, at the end of the chapter (44-45), we read that a heavy rain came, fulfilling the words spoken to Elijah by God that he would restore rain to the land.

Does our God have to prove himself to us? Or do we choose to believe?

Next week, we will go to the New Testament Gospels that show the authority over the heavens and earth as exemplified by Jesus.

The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh is the pastor of Schenevus United Methodist Church in Schenevus, New York.

The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh is the pastor of Schenevus United Methodist Church in Schenevus, New York.

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