Often, we will take a job, an assignment, or other tasks if we know all the risks involved. God does not always give us the full picture but yearns for us to seek after Him so that we might depend on Him for all our needs. Do you depend on God for all your needs? Elijah was a man of God who demonstrated total obedience, no matter the unusual request.
Many of you may know the story of Elijah. He was a Prophet, no doubt spreading the message of condemnation to those disobeying God, which happens to be King Ahab. The Bible says, “Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him. 31 He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. 32 He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. 33 Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than all the kings of Israel before him.” You get the picture that Ahab was definitely on God’s shortlist.
Elijah drops in on the pages of the Bible much like Melchisedek, without any mention of his father, mother, or the beginning of his days, like a man, dropped out of the clouds and raised by God's special providence. Elijah’s first job was to tell King Ahab because he was disobeying God, there was going to be a drought until he spoke again. Of course, this did not go over well, so Elijah had to go into hiding. God told Elijah exactly what to do.
2 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: 3 “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. 4 You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”5 So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.
Elijah and the Widow at Zarephath
Then in verses 7-16, we read the water dries up, and God sends him on his way, where he meets a widow. She only has one jar of oil and a little wheat to make her and her son one last meal. Elijah tells her if she feeds him first, she will never lack food.
If someone told you to hide out, birds would bring you your food; you would think they were nuts. Then he tells him to go to the brook, also known as a wadi. Wadis are seasonal and eventually dry up without rainfall, so this was not a solid water source. It is also interesting that God used birds to minister to Elijah. By their nature, Ravens are mean and greedy birds. Ravens neglect their own young and do not feed them: yet when God commanded, they brought food twice a day to the prophet Elijah. So not only did God provide food, He did it extravagantly. The meat was normally only eaten on feast days, certainly not twice a day like Elijah was being fed.
Eventually, the water dried up, and the Lord commanded Elijah to move on to Zarephath, a Gentile city. Jezebel was Elijah's greatest enemy; yet, to show her how powerless her malice was, God would find a hiding place for Elijah in her own country. Elijah was now being tested from another perspective, taking charity from a Gentile woman. Jews and Gentiles were not exactly on the same page with their religious practices. This foreshadowed the calling of the Gentiles and the rejection of the Jews. Because Elijah was a man of God, he did exactly what God said. In verses 11-16, God sends him on his way, where he meets a widow. She only has one jar of oil and a little wheat to make her and her son one last meal. Elijah tells her if she feeds him, she will never lack food. The woman had a choice to make. In her mind, she knew she only had enough for one more meal for her family; yet this man claimed she would never go hungry if she obeyed the Lord. Can you imagine deciding between something you can see and something you hope will happen? The widow chose wisely and provides a cake for Elijah in her home. The Bible tells us the flour jar and the jug of oil did not run dry until the famine was over.
Elijah and the widow were living their lives fully relying on God. A gentile trusted God even before God grafted the Gentiles into the family. A prophet receives his food from birds, drinking from a brook for water, and being fed by a gentile woman. This story is a powerful example of waiting on God. God sent Elijah to the brook Cherith for protection, training, and provision. God provided for Elijah and sustained him, even when it looked like God’s plan might not work out. Imagine the thoughts that went through Elijah’s mind as he watched the brook slowly dry up each day. Notice how God waited until after the brook dried to give Elijah his next orders. Elijah was truly depending on God for his very life.
We can apply the principles in this story to just about any situation we are facing in life. Human nature usually does not wait on God but strives to fulfill its own needs. It is encouraged by the world’s idea that if we don’t look out for ourselves, nobody will. The truth is that if we surrender our lives to God, he will provide for us. This is also a story that reminds us that our prayers might not necessarily be answered the way we hope. We must be careful to be flexible in our expectations. What we envision as God’s provision may differ from what he gives us. Finally, the story reminds us no challenge is too big for God; He can use anybody and anything to fulfill His will.
May we find ourselves saying, “The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I hope in Him!" The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.”