Elijah and the Widow
Read 1 Kings 17:8-16
The word of the LORD came to Elijah. There were three things that God told Elijah to do:
* Arise – he had to get up. He could not keep sitting and accomplish anything.
* Get thee to Zarephath – he had to go somewhere. He had to go where God wanted him to go (to Zarephath). The word Zarephath means refinement. God was going to do some fine tuning on Elijah and the widow. He was going to refine (free from impurities) both of them. Zarephath was in Zidon. Zidon means catching fish. Elijah was going to do some fishing there (spiritual fishing). Through Elijah, God was bringing the widow to know Him.
* Dwell there – Elijah was to live where God sent him.
Before Elijah arrived, God had provided for his needs. He told Elijah that he had commanded the widow to feed him. God never sends us anywhere that He hasn’t already provided for us.
God had commanded the widow woman, who was a Gentile, to sustain Elijah. She was to feed, receive, and make provision for him. God had already told her to do this. He commanded her to do it. This was a Gentile woman. This was someone who did not know God, yet He commanded her to supply the needs of Elijah (a man of God).
Elijah obeyed God. He got up and went to Zarephath. When he got to the gate of the city, the woman was there gathering sticks. She was getting ready to make a fire to fix a meager dinner for her and her son. She thought this would be their last meal before they starved to death. After this meal was fixed and eaten, they would be out of food.
Did this woman have no faith? God had told Elijah that He had commanded her to sustain him. Had she waited so long on Elijah that she had gotten tired of waiting? Maybe she had doubts that God could provide for the job He had given her to do.
What this woman did not know is that God always provides what we need to do the job He gives us. He provides in His own time when we are ready to accept Him. He provides when we need it (not when we think we need it).
Elijah asked the widow to bring him some water. He was thirsty after his journey. He was also hungry so he asked her to bring him a morsel of bread. Elijah did not ask for a whole meal. He only asked for a small piece of bread. A bit. He also asked for it to be delivered to him in her hand.
What was her reply? Remember that God had already commanded her to feed Elijah (to sustain him).
“As the LORD your God lives, I don’t have a cake. Only a handful of meal in a barrel and a little oil. I’m gathering two sticks so I can go make it for me and my son. We will eat it and then die,” the widow replied.
This woman did not have faith. She did not have God! She did not know God even though He had apparently spoken to her. This poor widow thought this would be the last meal for her and her son. She must have forgotten (or never known) that God always provides. Maybe no one had ever taken the time to tell her this fact. Or maybe she doubted that it was God who had commanded her. What do you think?
In verses 13 and 14, Elijah said, “Don’t be afraid. Go ahead, do as you planned, but first make me a little cake first, bring it to me, then make for you and your son.”
Now, imagine this woman with no husband and a child to feed. Along comes this strange man, a Hebrew, telling her (a Gentile) to feed him before she feeds her son and herself. She had to be a little afraid and concerned for the well-being of her child, if not for herself.
“So says the LORD God of Israel,” Elijah continues. “The barrel of meal will not end and the oil will not fail until the LORD sends the rain upon the earth.”
The land was in famine at this time and there was no signs of it ending any time soon. Should she believe this stranger? Or, should she just go ahead and feed her son and herself as she intended?
“And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah; and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days,” it states in verse 15.
She did obey Elijah. Because she obeyed this man of God, and God Himself, they all three had plenty to eat for many days. God provided even though the barrel looked like it had enough for only one meal. Verse 16 states, “And the barrel of meal didn’t end and the oil didn’t fail, according to the word of the LORD, which He spoke by Elijah.”
What did the widow woman learn? She learned that God keeps His word. If God says it, it will happen. She learned to believe and obey. That is what God asks of all of us – to believe Him and obey Him.
They were all rewarded with the blessings of God. Elijah did what he was told to do. He obeyed and believed. The woman did what she was told. She believed and obeyed. They were all blessed because of their belief and obedience. God provided for their needs.
Does this mean they did not have trials? No, it does not mean that. If you read on you will see that there were hard trials. (But, that is a study for another time.)
This woman was a Gentile, yet God spoke to her. God used her and she came to know the grace and mercy of God.
What can we learn from this story? We can learn to always remember to listen to the voice of God. Remember, God always provides for the job He has given you. He does not send you without provision when you get there. Our job is to keep the faith – to believe and be obedient. Sometimes it seems that God delays, but these are times of preparing us for the job He has asked us to do. Keep listening to what God is telling you – and always remember to wait on the LORD!