September 11, 2012
Until the LORD Sends Rain
1 Kings 17:9-16
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In response to a another question, today we will examine the continuous, daily, miraculous provision of food for a widow, her son, and a prophet named Elijah. God provided enough for each day, one day at a time. Centuries before, during the exodus from Egypt, the LORD had fed the people of Israel while they travelled through the wilderness. The manna fell sufficient for a day at a time, and the people gathered an extra day’s supply for the Sabbath (Exodus 16:4-5). In 1 Kings 17:9-16, Elijah had stood before King Ahab, who had done more to provoke the LORD God of Israel than all the kings before him (1 Kings 16:33). He was a very wicked and idolatrous king. Elijah the Tishbite, a prophet of God, prophesied that it would “neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word” (1 Kings 17:1). After delivering the prophecy of no rain to King Ahab, the LORD sent Elijah to the brook Cherith, where he stayed, being fed by the ravens bringing him bread and meat in the morning and evening, until the brook dried up one day (1 Kings 17:2-7).
Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, ‘Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.’
1 Kings 17:8-9
Commanded a Widow To Provide for You. In 1 Kings 17:8-9, we see another miracle, similar to the ravens feeding Elijah in the opening of verses of the chapter. Now God commanded a widow to provide food for Elijah. At each point, Elijah had to trust God with obedience. Living on food brought daily by ravens would certainly have stretched my faith. Now God moved Elijah to the Gentile region of Sidon. In this sense, Elijah was one of the first prophets to the Gentiles. Jesus also mentioned this matter in Luke 4:26. Jesus explained that God shut up the sky for three years and six months in the days of Elijah. During that time, there were many widows in Israel, but God sent Elijah to a widow in Sidon, outside of Israel, in the land of the Gentiles. Notice that God “commanded” (“צִוִּיתִי”) the widow to provide for Elijah. This command to a widow surprises me. Generally speaking, widows do not have much money or food, and in a famine, I would imagine they would struggle to survive. In this case, the widow was also a single mom. When God commanded the widow to provide for the prophet, the LORD blessed the widow, the child, and the prophet with food. The LORD had no problem being the LORD of the Gentiles and the Jews who loves everyone. When the LORD commands, He also provides the means for fulfilling His command.
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. As she was going to get it, he called to her and said, ‘Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.’
1 Kings 17:10-11
A Little Water and Piece of Bread. in 1 Kings 17:10-11, we read more about the miracle of feeding Elijah, a widow and her son. Just like Jesus reached out to the Samaritan woman at the well in the New Testament (John 4:1-45), so the LORD reached out to this widow by requesting food and water. Please remember the famine. Asking for food during a famine would be like asking for gold bars. Also, keep in mind that Elijah knew that God had commanded a widow to provide food for him. We should discern a powerful spiritual principle here. When God commands, we should keep our eyes and ears attuned to His command so that we may be blessed by the fulfillment of the command, just like Elijah was blessed by the command. Finally, notice the personal touch Elijah requested for the food: “in your hand.” Elijah intended for her to perform the entire task 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 go in and prepare for and my son, that we may eat and die.’ 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.’
1 Kings 17:12-13
We May Eat and Die. In 1 Kings 1:17, the widow expressed her deep concern and feelings of doom. She firmly believed she was going to die of famine with her son. She could not possibly spare any food for the prophet. Her fear of famine and death clearly gripped her. Yet, Elijah brought words of hope: “Do not fear.” God always provides those same words of hope to each of us. Do not fear. Our fear hinders our faith and makes us depart from God’s will. In this case, Elijah commanded the woman to feed him a little cake first, before the widow or her son ate. In fact, Elijah was very specific that she had to make and deliver his food first, before she even made a cake for herself or her son. The widow had to trust the word of Elijah and put his desires before her own and her son’s desire for food. I imagine they had been very hungry for days as they stretched out the last of their food. Now, right at the end, the prophet wanted the very last meal–their own life sustenance–for himself.
“For thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘The bowl of flour shall 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.'” So she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for many days.
1 Kings 17:14-15
Until the Day that the LORD Sends Rain. Having been commanded to bring out food and water, in the precise order set out by Elijah, God now promised the widow that the LORD God of Israel would provide for these Gentiles until He sent rain on the earth. We know the famine lasted a total of forty two months. This widow had to have faith in the Word of God to do as Elijah commanded her. From a human perspective, she took food out of her son’s mouth and her own to keep the command of God. She had faith that God would keep His promise to her. Her promise manifested itself by giving the last of her food to the prophet, as God had commanded her. She literally put her life into the hands of the prophet Elijah and relied upon the miraculous promise of God to feed her until the famine ended. The jar of oil would not run empty and the bowl of flour would not be exhausted as long as the need remained. God has made the same promises to feed us and keep us today (Matthew 6:25-34). God not only created the famine, but also knew the precise day it would end. As Jesus said, many widows suffered during that famine, but God chose the widow of Zarephath to be blessed with food. She had faith in the LORD keeping His promises.
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.
1 Kings 17:16
Not Exhausted or Empty. In 1 Kings 17:16, God kept His promises to the widow, the son and the prophet. The LORD miraculously kept refilling the jar of oil and the bowl of flour was exhausted. So often, we start to worry and freak out because our physical supplies may be exhausted. We tend to forget that God would always provide for us. Even if God were to allow us to die in a famine, we would still be with Him for eternity by faith in Christ. In the United States, September 11 has special significance. So many people remember the terrorists and how that single event changed America. On a spiritual level, God brings everyone to a point of decision. When the oil has run low, and the flour has been exhausted, where will you turn? Learn from the widow. Do just what God has said and obey Him first. Give the LORD your last bit of flour and your last drops of oil and rely upon the LORD to feed you and sustain you. Never trust in your own ability to provide. By faith I believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins. He offers me the gift of eternal life by faith. If I believe that Jesus died on the cross, was raised from the dead, and now will forgive me of all my sins by asking in faith for His forgiveness, He will forgive me right now. Why not ask Him right now and believe He will forgive you just as the LORD saved the widow from death.
So we learn more about the LORD providing for us every day.
● When you listen the commands of the LORD and obey Him, then He will take care of you always.
● When the LORD seeks all you have for His own use, then you can always count upon the LORD to give you enough for eternity.
● God takes care of my fears by bringing me to faith in His promises.
Application for Today
As I walk through life today, I want to listen to the LORD commanding me to follow Him today. I want to be ready to give Him everything today, so that I can count upon Him to provide me with everything I need for eternity. Will you be giving all you have to the LORD, and expecting Him to take care of you today?