Life Over Death
Father, You created all things simply with Your words. One word from You and Your power is evident. I am amazed by You.
Read 1 KINGS 17:1-24
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Whether you are wealthy or poor, thank God for every good gift he has provided for you and pray for the gift of grateful generosity.
I sit with this story as if listening to a great piece of music, enjoying the paratactic, repetitive style (the word “and” comes 51 times in the RV, reduced in the NIV to 29 times) and noting the details: “neither dew nor rain” (1) means total drought; the laborious verbs and two sticks in verse 12; “me first” in verse 13; the roof chamber; the climax in verse 24 (he was a man of God–she had questioned it in v. 18). I imagine, with amusement, what an “Elijah” museum to draw the crowds today would contain. A stuffed raven? An elixir from Cherith? The jar and the jug? A diorama of the roof-chamber scene?
Elijah appears without warning in the narrative. No flourish announces his prophetic status: he is judged by his words and whether they come true or not. How did he get to Ahab? How did the widow know he was a prophet? Hudson Taylor (1832-1905), who founded the China Inland Mission 150 years ago, based one of his most famous sayings (in 1887) about God’s provision on this story: “There are plenty of ravens in China and the Lord could send them again with bread and flesh… Depend upon it, God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies.” If I know the story of the widow well, I ponder why it aroused homicidal anger when Jesus referred to it in Nazareth (Luke 4:24-29).
There is anger in this story too–the widow jumps to the conclusion that Elijah is “a holy man barging in, exposing my sins and killing my son” (18, The Message). Elijah is angry with God too: “Why have you done this evil thing (literally) to this widow whom I am staying with?” (20). Then the music draws to a ravishing close: I stand speechless in a quadrilateral of joy and peace.
Recall a time when the Lord provided for you in a time of crisis. Was it material resources? Healing? Strength to carry on? What lessons did you learn from the experience?
Merciful Lord, sometimes Your ways are not always clear to me. Waiting, when I want to be working. Confusing, when I need clarity. Help me to realize that Your clocks keep perfect time.
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