Maybe you know people like this...they routinely say things like "God told me..." or "The Lord says...".
Sometimes it seems to fit. Other times it seems out of context. Especially when they say things about me, I want to be sure. I want to listen to the Spirit, but I don't believe that everyone who says they speak for God actually does speak for God. As the scripture says, we must "Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1)
One man who was apparently 'legit' in this was Elijah. The first time we hear of him in 1 Kings is in ch. 17, v. 1. He is introduced, and says "As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will neither be dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word." (1 Kings 17:1)
That's pretty bold! He's either going to be right, or wrong. There will not be any 'sort of' about that. This unambiguous language would not have been welcome to new king Ahab and hsi evil queen, Jezebel. These were evil people, who were systematically establishing the worship of a false god, Baal, in Israel, as well as promoting Asherah, a false religion.
God does not take kindly to rivals. He does not want us to be 'politically correct', if that means that we assume that all religions are the same. The bumper stickers I see with various symbols of various faiths that spell out the word "Coexist"...I don't believe God is quite as 'comfortable' with those as we are! In fact, if those stickers are meant to convey that 'all religions are equal', or 'all religions are the same', I believe that He would want us to be just as much against them as Elijah was against the prophets (and promoters) of Baal and Asherah worship!
It's one thing to be tolerant in a diverse society--I think that's good. But it should never confuse us to the point that we forget: The LORD--HE is God!
I find it interesting that, just before Elijah speaks this pronouncement, the Scripture doesn't follow the typical format saying "The Word of the Lord came to Elijah...". It does not tell us, specifically, that the Lord TOLD HIM to say that. Could He have, and it not be recorded? Yes, but that wouldn not be consistent with the pattern followed elsewhere in this book.
Is it POSSIBLE that Elijah pronounced the drought on his own? Is it possible that he saw so much of what Ahab and Jezebel were doing, and he was so close to, and passionate about God that he just 'had to' say something? Is it possible that his zeal for God compelled him to speak this kind of 'sentence' against Ahab and Jezebel, even though God had not told him to do so?
Yes, I believe it is. I believe the Holy Spirit was within Elijah, who apparently served the Lord already (v. 1), and moved him in this direction, even without 'telling him' to say it.
Here is the amazing thing: God backed it up!
God did not let it rain in the land for 3 years--just as Elijah said!
Apparenlty God was interested in backing up the message and mission of Elijah.
Does this mean that we can all go out and 'pronounce' things, assuming God will back us up? No!
To say something on behalf of God is a humbling experience. We want to be sure that we're not 'tossing God's name around' loosely (that is, by the way, the reason that false prophets--those who said something like 'Thus says the Lord...', and made a prediciton, only to have it not come true--were stoned to death.) It was a fearful thing to speak for God. You'd better make sure!
Yet, God DOES give the gift of prophecy to some people in the Church (Eph. 4), so we apparently can hear from God, and speak His words out in some cases.
I want God to speak to me; I want God to speak through me...but I do NOT want to take this lightly, or to throw God's name around flippantly.
If God moves me to say something, I will say it. If I am walking very closely to Him (as apparently Elijah was), I will hear His voice clearly. Then I will have the courage to speak it out and let Him take care of the rest.
May we all have the same closeness to God...and the same zeal...that Elijah did!
May we be so disturbed by evil--especially the worship of false gods--that we can't just accept the spirit of this world.
May we be God's servants, whatever personal cost necessary.