Verse 43. "I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities" - To proclaim the kingdom of God was the Messiah's great work; healing the diseases of the people was only an emblematical and secondary work, a work that was to be the proof of his goodness, and the demonstration of his authority to preach the Gospel, and open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
SOME have found both a difficulty and a mystery in the shutting up of heaven in the time of the Prophet Elijah. It was, no doubt, emblematical of the hardened and impenitent state of the Israelites, and of the judgments of God in withholding those Divine influences which they had so often abused. As to the difficulty of the six months, which both our Lord here, and St. James, James v. 17, mention, and which are not mentioned in the book of Kings whence the account is taken, it may be easily understood thus. The rains, we have already seen, fell in Judea twice in the year, about April, and about October. At this latter period, when the rain was expected, the prophet prayed that it might not rain; the rain therefore of Marchesvan, or October, &c., was then restrained: this restraint continued for three full years; but six months had elapsed from Nisan, April, &c., when they had their last rain, add these six months to the three full years that the rain was restrained at the prayer of Elijah, and then we have the period of three years and six months, according to our Lord and Saint James. By this the justice of God was shown: but behold his mercy in that rain of grace which fell so abundantly by the preaching of Christ during the three years and six months of his public ministry! Thus the difficulty is solved, and the mystery explained. Reader, the most awful famine is a famine of the word of God: thou art not yet tried in this way: behold the goodness and severity of God! While thou hast the light, walk as a child of the light; and let it not be thy curse and condemnation, that while others, by reading and hearing the word of God, are plenteously watered, thy fleece alone should be found dry. How unutterable must the wo of those be, who live and die infidels under the preaching of the Gospel of Christ! Let him that readeth, understand.