The Lord told Elijah to go to Zarephath where he would find a widow who was going to supply him with food. He is with her now as we continue on from last week. Elijah has asked the widow to give him a piece of bread and some water.
I Kings 17:12 “’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 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.’”
“I don’t have any… only a little.” The Lord always seems to ask us to give the most when we believe we have the least. I can’t give. I can’t tithe. I don’t even have enough to pay my bills much less give some of it away. The widow needed to learn that we always have the most when the Lord gets His first.
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. ‘TEST ME IN THIS,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the flood-gates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have enough room for it.’” (Malachi 3”10)
I Kings 17:13 “Elijah said to her, ‘Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for your son and for yourself.’”
“First make a small cake of bread for me FROM WHAT YOU HAVE.” The Lord will never ask us to give something we don’t have, something He hasn’t already given us and He won’t accept anything from us that we can’t joyfully give Him. The Lord loves and blesses those who give cheerfully to Him.
I Kings 17:14-16 “For this is what the God of Israel says, ’This jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on this land..’ She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day and for the woman and her family. For the flour was not used up and the oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.”
“There was food every day for Elijah, for the woman and her family. The… flour was not used up and the… oil did not run dry.” Isn’t God good? Eating around the table with his new family is much better than eating alone by the brook with those birds, isn’t it? Elijah has again settled in to a new, predictable and safe routine. It took a little while to adjust to those changes, but life is good again.
1 Kings 17:17-18 Sometime later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. 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?’”
How quickly life can change without warning, an unexpected phone call, a shocking diagnosis. Elijah did not see this coming. The Lord had not prepared him for this in advance. Why does God let these surprises happen? Things change, things happen to keep us focused on the Lord instead of ourselves, to keep us dependent on and trusting in Him instead of ourselves, to keep us serving Him in the work He keeps giving us to do.
The widow had always depended on Elijah. She looked to him for answers and, up until now, Elijah always managed to come up with them. But this time, Elijah doesn’t have the answer. The answer is not in Elijah. The power is not in Elijah. Salvation does not come from Elijah. What they both need right now is only found in the Lord.
1 Kings 17:19-20 “‘Give me your son,’ Elijah replied.’ He took him from her arms and carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. Then he cried out to the Lord, ‘O Lord my God, have you brought tragedy upon this widow I’m staying with, by causing her son to die.?’”
Elijah did what all of us should do when we don’t know what else to do, when there is nothing else we can do, He poured his heart out to the Lord in prayer. Elijah prayed with great passion. He prayed with a great sense of urgency, desperation and complete helplessness. He knew what the Lord could do.
1 Kings 17:22 “Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried to the Lord, ‘O Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him!”
Every time I read this passage I wonder what I would have done. Do I know what it’s like to cry out to God like that? Would I have prayed like that? Would I have bothered to pray for a child who had stopped breathing? Is it too much to ask and expect? Would I have done it three times? How many times would Elijah have done it?
How long should we pray, how long will we pray for a situation that looks hopeless before we abandon our faith and accept our fate? Jesus told His disciples to keep on praying; keep on asking, seeking and knocking. Never get discouraged or quit.
1 Kings 17:22 “The Lord heard Elijah’s cry and the boy’s life returned to him and he lived.”
Thank God Elijah was not willing to believe that “no” was the answer. Praise the Lord for someone who was willing to pray as long as it took for that little boy to come back to life. That’s how to pray when someone needs prayer. I want someone like him praying for me when I need it. How long and how fervently are we willing to pray for someone who is dead in their sin? Are we prepared to pray as long as we have to for them to find new life in Christ?
1Kings 17:23-24 “Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He took him to his mother and said, ‘Look, your son is alive.’ Then the woman said to Elijah, ‘Now I know you are a man of God and the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.’”
The woman did not believe the Word of God simply because Elijah said so. The Apostle Paul said,
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on man’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)
We can only speak the words the Lord give us to say. We can only quote the scriptures. But we can’t expect people to believe us just because we say so. The Lord will confirm His Word, He will back up the words we speak with His power. We do the speaking but the Holy Spirit does the convincing and the convicting.
Lord willing, we’ll pick it up from here next Tuesday. Thanks for getting into God’s Word with Pastor Buj.