At Southern Calvert Baptist Church, we are continuing to study through the Gospel Project, a three year comprehensive study of the entire Bible. We have arrived at the book of I Kings.
At this point in the history of Israel, things are bad. There is a king named Ahab who is a very ungodly man. God has a faithful follower named Elijah. God had trained Elijah to act during this difficult time. Elijah stands before king Ahab and prays that the Lord will withhold the rain from His people. This prayer comes from the Word of God. In Deuteronomy, the Lord told His people that if they obeyed Him, He would send rain at the right time. He also said that if His people did not obey Him, then He would shut off the rain from heaven. Elijah prayed that the rain would stop, according to the Word of God. The Lord kept His Word and shut off the rain from heaven. How is God going to be glorified in the midst of all of this? Suffering is coming. The drought is going to lead to famine. What is the Lord doing? Is there a purpose in this? Yes, of course there is. Eventually, after three and a half years, the people are going to repent and return to the Lord. Also, the Lord is going to use this situation to draw a person who is seeking Him to Himself.
I. God prepared Elijah
Elijah’s parents taught him how to connect with God and have a personal relationship with God. The name Elijah is a combination of two Hebrew words. El and Jah. El is part of the name Elohim, the Creator God. Jah is a shortened version of Jehovah, the Self-Existing One. The name Elijah literally means, “My God is Jehovah“. From birth, Elijah began learning about the character and nature of God. These characteristics about God are found in the Word of God. Elijah’s parents taught him the Word of God. That is why he was familiar with the book of Deuteronomy. Elijah had a personal relationship with God.
2 The word of the LORD came to him, saying,
3 “Go away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. (I Kings 17)
God communicates with His people through His Word. We have access to that same Word today in the form of the Holy Bible. Do you seek to communicate with God? Do you search the Scriptures in order to learn about the character of God so that you know how to respond to every situation in life? Did you notice how specific the Word of God is? God communicates directly and specifically with His people through His Word. God tells Elijah where he needs to go, what he needs to do, and why he needs to do it. How is Elijah, a man who has a personal relationship with God, going to respond?
So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and lived by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. (I Kings 17:5)
Elijah responds to the Word of God in obedience. Obedience to the Word of God is vital in order to have a personal relationship with God. Do you see the connections between the Word of God, a personal relationship with God, and obedience to the Word of God? This is how God prepares us for action. This is why meditating on the Word of God daily is vital. Not only does the Lord make promises is His Word, He also affirms and confirms those promises.
4 “It shall be that you will drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there.”
5 So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and lived by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan.
6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook.
7 It happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land. (I Kings 17)
This process leads Elijah to trust the Word of God more and more. This is the way that the Lord builds up our faith. Are you walking through this process on a daily basis?
The next time that the Word of the Lord comes to Elijah, he is even more ready to believe It, no matter how strange the command is.
8 Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying,
9 “Arise, goto Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” (I Kings 17)
Usually, men take care of widows, not the other way around. In this case, God is going to use this widow to provide for Elijah. Once again, the Word of God is very specific. Elijah knows where he needs to go, what he needs to do, and why he needs to do it.
So he arose and went to Zarephath, and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks; and he called to her and said, “Please get me a little water in a jar, that I may drink.” (I Kings 17:10)
Again, we see that Elijah obeys the Word of the Lord. This is vital because now, Elijah, because of his obedience to the Word of God, is in a place where he is going to be able to share the Word of God with a pagan, widow woman who has lost all hope in life.
II. The Pagan, Widow
In verse 10, the verse that we read in the previous section, we learned that the woman is a widow who lives in a pagan place and is a pagan herself.
But she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may goin and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.” (I Kings 17:12)
We see that this widow knows ABOUT God because she calls Him Jehovah, Elohim. But, notice, she calls God YOUR God and not MY God. This widow does not have a personal relationship with the God of Israel. She needs someone to share about how to have a personal relationship with God and God has sent a missionary, Elijah, to her.
13 Then Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first and bring it out to me, and afterward you may make one for yourself and for your son.
14 “For thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘The bowl of flours hall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain on the face of the earth.’ ” (I Kings 17)
This widow is introduced to the power of the Word of God. Elijah has learned to trust the Word of the Lord. Now, he is going to share his experience with this widow. This widow knows about God but she does not trust the Lord yet.
So she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her house hold ate for many days. (I Kings 17:15)
This widow takes a small leap of faith. She trusts the Lord and shows that trust by sacrificing to serve the Lord by serving Elijah. This small leap of faith is going to lead to an even bigger leap of faith. But, before we get to the next leap of faith.
The bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke through Elijah. (I Kings 17:16)
God affirms His Word in order to prepare the widow to trust His Word even more.
The next leap of faith comes when the widow’s son falls ill and dies. She does not know what to do so she turns to Elijah for help. Elijah takes the boy before the Lord in prayer.
22 The LORD heard the voice of Elijah, and the life of the child returned to him and he revived.
23 Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper room into the house and gave him to his mother; and Elijah said, “See, your son is alive.” (I Kings 17)
The Lord hears Elijah’s prayer and gives life back to the boy. Once the widow sees this, her response is beautiful.
Then the woman said to Elijah, “NowI know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth.” (I Kings 17:24)
This pagan, widow has gone from a person who had heard about the Lord to a person who has a personal relationship with Him. Her life has been transformed and all it took was for a missionary to bring the Word of the Lord to her and live out the Word of the Lord before her. When Jesus preaches a message in His hometown synagogue, He uses this widow woman’s faith as an example of the living faith they the audience lacked. Jesus honors her for all time, just as God honored her for all time in I Kings 17.
My dear friend, are you living out the Word of the Lord? Are you sharing the Word of the Lord with others? Are you teaching others how to trust the Lord?
May the Lord bless you as you seek to serve Him by obeying His Word and sharing It with others.