PREPARING THE PROPHET
Lord, give me the courage to stand up to my spiritual enemies.
Read 1 KINGS 17
Elijah Announces a Great Drought
17 Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe[a] in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”
Elijah Fed by Ravens
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
7 Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the Lord came to him: 9 “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” 10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”
12 “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”
13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”
15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.
17 Some time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. 18 She said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?”
19 “Give me your son,” Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. 20 Then he cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, have you brought tragedy even on this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” 21 Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the Lord, “Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!”
22 The Lord heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. 23 Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!”
24 Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.”
a 1 Kings 17:1 Or Tishbite, of the settlers
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Ponder anew / what the Almighty can do, / he who with love doth befriend thee” (Joachim Neander, 1650–1680).
Under the terms of the Mosaic covenant, obedience to the word of the Lord leads to blessing, and disobedience leads to hardship (Deut. 28). It’s hardly surprising, therefore, to ﬁnd Ahab and Israel in the middle of a drought (1). This state of affairs is entirely just, but that will not help God’s messenger. The Lord knows the danger facing Elijah and takes steps to protect him. The good Shepherd cares for his own (John 10:11–15,27). However, the Lord is doing more than simply protecting Elijah by sending him to the ravine and the widow; actually, he is also training his prophet for an even harder task ahead.
Elijah must undergo lessons in obedience, trust and prayer in order to prepare for the spiritual battle on Mount Carmel. The Lord administers to him three tests of increasing difficulty. None of them is transparently believable. Ravens will feed you? A poor foreign widow will feed you? A dead boy will live? At least his ﬁrst directive is to go home. The second command is harder, for Zarephath lies in Sidon, Jezebel’s homeland. Nonetheless, in stark contrast with Ahab’s disobedience, Elijah fully obeys the Lord’s instructions. This allows him to experience ﬁrsthand the power of God over creation and over all people, whether they acknowledge him or not.
The third test is hardest of all (17–24). Note the widow’s reaction to the death of her son: blame both God and God’s prophet (18). This is still a common response to tragedies today. Elijah has not been warned that the boy would die, but his instinctive response is to bring the problem to the Lord in prayer. In doing this he demonstrates both the power of prayer and the power of God over life and death.
Consider how the good Shepherd has tested and cared for you; thank him. Pray for Christians currently being tested and/or in need of the Lord’s special care.
Lord, grant to me the grace to carry out Your instructions to the letter, whether they make sense to me or not.